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The Global Cause for Life

Pro-life concerns in Asia and Europe

Chelsea Patterson Sobolik

Every year, approximately 70 million abortions occur globally, ending the lives of precious unborn babies.1https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-worldwide?gclid=Cj0KCQjw9_mDBhCGARIsAN3PaFMAiLKWFLDptZZNYpIFExgDd5DjMF-WaCBqg3PUK7k774RlWJmHvjUaAvqhEALw_wcB Around the world, an estimated 1 in 4 pregnancies end in an abortion every year.2https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-worldwide As Christians, we ought to be deeply grieved by this reality and should be propelled to prayer and action. 

Scripture tells us that every single life is precious to the Lord, and has innate dignity and worth. And throughout God’s Word, it is clear that God values the preborn. At the climax of Creation, God created man and woman and then declared them to be “very good.” In Psalm 139:13-16, we learn about God’s intimate care for life in the womb.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Therefore, Christians have a biblical mandate to care for life, following in God’s footsteps by protecting and defending all life. 

While there are many pro-life concerns within the United States, it’s also important to remember that the issue of abortion doesn’t cease at our border. Abortion is a multifaceted global issue and affects different parts of the world in unique ways.

Sex-selective abortion

Approximately 140 million girls are “missing” globally due to sex-selective abortions and intanticide. While sex-selective abortions occur around the world, they are most prevalent in countries with a son preference. These countries and cultures believe that sons will give the family more prestige and will be able to better care for aging parents than daughters.3https://www.unfpa.org/gender-biased-sex-selection

The two most populous nations on earth, India and China, eliminate more girls each year than the number of girls that are born in the United States.4https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/world/too-many-men/ According to the Invisible Girl Project, “while sex-selective abortion is technically illegal in India, the laws aren’t enforced as they should be, and an estimated 700,000 girls are aborted every year. On average, one girl is aborted in India every minute just because she is a girl.”5https://invisiblegirlproject.org/the-issue/feticide/

China is the country with the most notable population of girls missing because they are targeted in the womb. As a result, there is a gender imbalance, and Chinese men don’t have enough women to marry, resulting in bride trafficking and a sex trafficking industry.6https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3117253/how-chinas-missing-women-problem-has-fuelled-trafficking-and-forced The bride trafficking industry preys on the poor and vulnerable and reduces women to their ability to produce offspring. It’s dehumanizing and degrading. 

God has designed us as male and female, and choosing to end the life of girls in the womb is a vile and wicked practice.

Abortion because of disability

Several years ago, Iceland boasted that they had “basically eradicated” people with Down syndrome.7https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/whats-the-real-down-syndrome-problem-the-genocide/2018/03/14/3c4f8ab8-26ee-11e8-b79d-f3d931db7f68_story.html As prenatal screening tests became more readily available in Iceland, almost 100% of unborn babies who received a positive test for Down syndrome were aborted. Even though people with Down syndrome can live long, full lives, many of them aren’t given a chance at life. Sadly, this predatory practice isn’t limited to Iceland. Throughout Europe and the United States, discriminatory abortion practices target unborn babies who potentially have a disability. 

In Denmark, 98% of unborn babies with Down syndrome are aborted. In the United Kingdom, 90% of women with a Down syndrome diagnosis for their child chose abortion.8https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/whats-the-real-down-syndrome-problem-the-genocide/2018/03/14/3c4f8ab8-26ee-11e8-b79d-f3d931db7f68_story.html According to George Will, a columnist for The Washington Post, “In 2016, a French court ruled that it would be ‘inappropriate’ for French television to run a 2 ½-minute video (“Dear Future Mom”) released for World Down Syndrome Day, which seeks to assure women carrying Down syndrome babies that their babies can lead happy lives, a conclusion resoundingly confirmed in a 2011 study ‘Self-perceptions from people with Down syndrome.’”9https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/whats-the-real-down-syndrome-problem-the-genocide/2018/03/14

Forced abortions

Since 2017, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has waged a systemic campaign of oppression and persecution against Uyghur Muslims, a predominantly Turkic-speaking ethnic group.10https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/how-the-chinese-communist-party-is-persecuting-uyghur-muslims/ The CCP has used totalitarian tactics like pervasive surveillance, thought control, ideological reeducation, forced birth control, and compulsory labor. Uyghur women are subjected to forced pregnancy checks, medication that stops their menstrual period, forced abortions, and surgical sterilizations. One of the major reasons that these women are even sent to the internment camps is for having too many children.

The CCP has waged a long and dreadful war against women, and more specifically, as mentioned above, against baby girls. Through the coercion of the one- and two-child policies, it created a gender imbalance as stark as 120 boys for every 100 girls. Families in China often had to seek the approval of local family-planning officials just to have a child, even if they hadn’t already reached the one-child cutoff.11https://www.refworld.org/pdfid/51f61ea04.pdf To meet quotas and restrict population growth, women were subject to forced abortions, and both men and women were forced to have sterilizations.12https://www.npr.org/2016/02/01/465124337/how-chinas-one-child-policy-led-to-forced-abortions-30-million-bachelors

Positive developments

The Trump administration’s Office of Global Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) led the U.S. in signing the Geneva Consensus Declaration, a “historic document that further strengthens an ongoing coalition to achieve better health for women, the preservation of human life, support for the family as foundational to a healthy society, and the protection of national sovereignty in global politics.”13https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/10/22/trump-administration-marks-signing-geneva-consensus-declaration.html It was co-sponsored by the United States, Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, and Uganda, and co-signed by 32 countries in total, representing more than 1.6 billion people. While the Biden administration has removed the U.S.from the Geneva Consensus Declaration, the important work will continue since it was a multilateral statement.14https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/28/memorandum-on-protecting-womens-health-at-home-and-abroad/

One of the key parts of the declaration is the reaffirmation “that there is no international right to abortion, nor any international obligation on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion, consistent with the long-standing international consensus that each nation has the sovereign right to implement programs and activities consistent with their laws and policies.” It should be encouraging for those in the pro-life movement to see countries band together to protect the unborn in their nation.15Ibid.

International ultrasound machine

The ERLC advocates for life domestically and abroad. One of the ways the ERLC is involved in the preservation of the unborn is through the Psalm 139 Project—an “initiative designed to make people aware of the life-saving potential of ultrasound technology in crisis pregnancy situations and to help pregnancy centers minister to abortion-vulnerable women by providing ultrasound equipment for them to use.”16https://psalm139project.org/

This work is vital because women are more likely to choose life for their babies after seeing an ultrasound photo of their unborn little one.17https://www.care-net.org/center-insights-blog/why-ultrasounds-matter-for-women-planning-abortion The ERLC’s Psalm 139 Project has pledged to fund its first international placement of an ultrasound machine in a Christian, pro-life ministry in Northern Ireland.

In 2019, Northern Ireland legalized abortion for the first time in its history. The ERLC will aid the cause of life there and help women choose life for their children. The partnering organizations will be Both Lives Matter, an organization that advocates for both the mother and preborn child, and Evangelical Alliance, a group that unites Christians from across the wider United Kingdom on issues important to believers.18https://bothlivesmatter.org/

Conclusion

Christians should boldly proclaim through word and deed that every single life has innate dignity and value. We should seek to be on the frontlines of protecting and defending life, both domestically and abroad. May we resolve to regularly pray for the lives of the unborn and their mothers around the world. May we ask the Lord to give government leaders the courage to pass pro-life laws and uphold the dignity of their unborn children. May we pray that women in vulnerable situations would have the support needed to give life to their children. And may we resolve never to remain silent about God’s care and compassion for every life.

Chelsea Patterson Sobolik serves as the Acting Director of Public Policy with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission in the Washington, D.C. office. Previously, she worked on Capitol Hill on pro-life policies, domestic and international religious freedom, adoption, and foster care issues. Chelsea has been published at the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Gospel Coalition, Chritianity Today, and others. She is the author of Longing for Motherhood – Holding onto Hope in the Midst of Childlessness, and a forthcoming book on women and work. She has a B.A. in International Relations from Liberty University, and lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband Michael.