By / Dec 8

You may have seen the video that’s making the rounds through the internet after the Dobbs arguments. A group of presumably pro-choice women, vehemently protesting on the steps of the Supreme Court, recently took part in a demonstration wherein they each swallowed what were purported to be “abortion pills.” 

Did we just witness the intentional killing of four pre-born babies?

In our pro-life circles, there were, and continue to be, plenty of commentators. Some called it a form of religious worship; others, a sort of sacramental ceremony. And they’re right — this demonstration was without question an act of worship. But instead of merely pointing our fingers and diagnosing the problem — quote-tweeting from a safe distance — isn’t there a better way for us to engage with the issue and the people involved in it?

As those on both sides of the debate grow further apart and the conversation grows more militant, a piercing question hangs in the air: how will this divide ever be mended? 

Many don’t believe it will be. Some don’t even believe it can. Others just aren’t willing to do the work involved in rebuilding what’s been broken, preferring instead to wag their collective fingers and comment from afar. But how should Christians approach and seek to answer this question?  It’s really not all that complex. And we don’t need to look any further than the ministry of Jesus for our marching orders.

Jesus, friend of sinners

In the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke, readers are introduced to a supposedly derogatory phrase used to describe Jesus. Speaking to the crowds around him, Jesus repeats to them the charge that’s been levied against him: he is a “friend . . . of sinners” (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34). While Jesus offers no immediate or explicit comment either for or against this accusation, Luke wants his reader to understand that this Pharisaic charge is true. But what the crowds and the Pharisees saw as evil, Jesus embraced as good (Gen. 50:20).

In the very next scene recorded by Luke, after being invited into one of the Pharisee’s homes, Jesus was approached by “a woman in the town who was a sinner” (Luke 7:37). While he was reclining at the table, presumably sharing a meal with “upright” and “clean” religious men, this woman — this sinner — descended on Jesus, fell before him, and spilled her tears and a jar of perfume on his feet. In response, the Pharisee who had invited him reiterated in his mind, with seeming disgust, that she was a sinner (Luke 7:39). Responding to this man’s thoughts, Jesus proceeded to tell a story, eventually commending this woman, declaring that her sins were forgiven, and charging her to “Go in peace” (Luke 7:50). 

While all the men around the table were clamoring for a spot in Jesus’s inner circle, it was the most unlikely character who left the table as his friend.

Christians, friends of sinners

In his book, Friend of Sinners: An Approach to Evangelism, Harvey Turner opens the first chapter with a powerful question: “Do you like sinners?” He goes on:

“I hear many Christians talking about personal holiness. They talk about being like Jesus, walking like Jesus, and following Jesus. But most Christians I know don’t love sinners like Jesus did. They don’t hang out with them, they don’t share the gospel with them, and they just plain don’t like them. But could it be that the process of becoming more holy includes hanging around those who are considered unholy?”

Jesus loved sinners, and still does. And not just that, but Jesus liked sinners, and still does. How else would we have been welcomed into the kingdom of God if Jesus hadn’t befriended us? 

So, what does all this have to do with the group of women standing on the steps in our nation’s capital, swallowing abortion-inducing pills for public viewing? After watching the video and surveying the large number of comments being offered by men and women who I greatly respect, and whose comments I mostly agree with, I couldn’t shake (and still can’t) this single question: what amount of progress might be made, in this conversation and others, if, instead of making an example of these women with our clever and incisive comments, we simply walked across the street and sought to befriend them?

Would the culture change overnight? Certainly not. But, little by little, as friendships are born “across enemy lines,” maybe the temperature of this heated debate would begin to lower, maybe pre-born babies lives would be saved from the prospect of abortion, and maybe, when confronted with the kindness of God’s people, “sinners” would be made disciples and be welcomed into eternal life with God. It is God’s kindness that leads men and women to repentance (Rom. 2:4). May God’s people go and do likewise.

“Our mission from Jesus,” Turner says, “is to make disciples of people who are not currently disciples (Matt. 28:18-20) . . . If we are not friends to sinners, we are not following him [Jesus].” 

Christians, befriended sinners

I suspect that part of the reason we find this so difficult is because we’ve forgotten some crucial things about our own pathway into God’s family, namely that Jesus has come and made friends with those of us who follow him (John 15:15). The “hound of heaven” chased us down, sinners though we were, and slathered us with lovingkindness.

Where were you when Jesus came and befriended you?

This should force us to ask a couple of questions. Are the steps of the Supreme Court off limits for Jesus to come and birth a new friendship? Are women with abortion drugs under their tongues too unclean for Jesus to welcome them, forgive them of their sins, and offer them the shalom of God? The answer to these questions is clearly no. So, why would we not follow in the way of Jesus and invite them into friendship with God by making friends with them ourselves? Can we expect to win them, and the persistent debate on life, any other way?

The people of God, regardless of where we find ourselves, have been given a new vocation: we are fishers of people, charged with going and making disciples of men and women, teaching them what it means to follow the one who says to them, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). We, imitating the God we worship, have been called to make friends with our enemies.

So, whether on the steps of the Supreme Court or the cubicle across the hall, may we, for the love of God and neighbor, have the courage to put down our commenting devices and go befriend someone into the kingdom of God. And, in the stead of our Savior, may we wear the label “friend of sinners” with joy.

By / Dec 3

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 3, 2021—The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, will host a special online event, Monday, Dec. 6 at 10:00 a.m. EST, to discuss yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court’s oral arguments on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case and how it could overturn the Roe v. Wade decision and affect the future of the prolife movement. 

Pro-life leaders who are scheduled to participate in the online event include:

  • Herbie Newell, president & executive director, Lifeline Children’s Services
  • Denise Harle, senior counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
  • Elizabeth Graham, vice president of life initiatives, ERLC
  • Chelsea Sobolik, director of public policy, ERLC

The ERLC and other pro-life organizations filed an amicus brief in the Dobbs case earlier this year requesting the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.

Throughout the event, panelists will discuss questions such as: 

  • How can churches prepare for a post-Roe world?
  • How could the justices rule on this case?
  • What do we know from oral arguments?
  • When can we expect a ruling?
  • How could this case change the future of the prolife movement? 

“The stakes are high, and we will continue to advocate for the protection of all human lives until abortion becomes illegal, unthinkable and unnecessary across the world,” said ERLC’s Elizabeth Graham.

Members of the press are invited to attend and can register for free at this link

Immediately following the event, you’re invited to join event speakers for a 10-minute “on-the-record” Q&A to ask follow up questions from the panel discussion pertaining to the Dobbs case. If you would like to join, please RSVP to Elizabeth Bristow at [email protected] to receive further information for this virtual press room

By / Nov 11

Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 11, 2021—The Psalm 139 Project, a pro-life ministry of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, has donated an ultrasound machine to Birth Choice in Jackson, Tenn., and Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tenn.) will be speaking at a dedication ceremony Friday, Nov. 12 from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. CST at the clinic’s location at 391 Wallace Rd, Jackson, TN, 38305. 

Earlier this year, Gov. Lee and Tennessee legislative leaders allocated $182,900 in the 2021-2022 budget for a partnership with the Psalm 139 Project to place life-saving ultrasound machines across the state of Tennessee. 

“I am thrilled to partner with our friends at Birth Choice in Jackson, Tenn., in dedicating this life-saving ultrasound machine and support them in their mission to share the hope of the gospel with West Tennessee,” said Elizabeth Graham, ERLC vice president of operations and life initiatives. “The center is doing remarkable work to serve vulnerable mothers and save preborn babies. I’m grateful for the generous partnership between our state leaders, including Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, and the Psalm 139 Project so we can gift centers like Birth Choice with these life-saving machines at no cost to them. We will continue this work until abortion becomes illegal, unthinkable and unnecessary across the world.”

Birth Choice has been in operation for more than 33 years and became a medical clinic 15 years ago. They have two brick-and-mortar locations in Jackson and Trenton, as well as two mobile units that serve five counties in West Tennessee: Fayette (Somerville), Hardeman (Bolivar), Hardin (Savannah), Haywood (Brownsville) and Henderson (Lexington). Birth Choice serves approximately 800 clients each year and provides services such as:

  • Pregnancy testing
  • Ultrasounds
  • Counseling
  • STD testing
  • Information on abortion procedures and risks
  • Parenting program
  • After-abortion healing program
  • Abstinence education for schools and youth groups

“Our new ultrasound machine enables us not only to minister to three counties that have high abortion rates with no pregnancy center available to them, it also makes it possible to send out mobile units to them twice a week,” said Birth Choice Executive Director Brent Lambert. “The ERLC has truly made these babies’ pictures worth a thousand words and enables these babies to live a thousand dreams in a life that is very unsure for many of them.”

ERLC’s Acting President Brent Leatherwood will be present at the dedication service along with Baptist state and associational leaders.

The ERLC’s Psalm 139 Project focuses on aiding pregnancy resource centers by securing ultrasound machines and providing training for their use. The centers use the machines in their life-saving work to support women and families in crisis pregnancy situations, helping many to make the choice for life.

One hundred percent of financial contributions designated to the Psalm 139 Project go toward purchasing ultrasound machines and training. No Cooperative Program resources are used to purchase these machines or pay for the training. Tax-deductible gifts may be made online to The Psalm 139 Project, or via check to ERLC, 901 Commerce Street, Nashville, Tenn., 37203. Learn more at psalm139project.com

By / Sep 24

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill titled the “Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021.” This vote was largely along party lines, with every Republican and only one Democrat, Rep. Cuellar (D-TX), voting against the harmful bill. This piece of legislation is one of the most pro-abortion bills to have ever passed the House.

Speaker Pelosi brought this bill to the House floor as a direct response to the lifesaving Texas Heartbeat Act (SB8) that went into effect at the beginning of September.

What is the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021? 

The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 removes all restrictions and limits on abortion and allows for abortion up to the point of birth. Additionally, this bill removes all pro-life protections at the federal and state levels and eliminates a state’s ability to legislate on abortion. This bill also fails to protect the conscience of American taxpayers and would force taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions. Longstanding pro-life protections such as the Hyde Amendment and the Weldon Amendment would be removed.

Despite the bill’s name, vulnerable women and families will only be put more at risk if the Women’s Health Protection Act were to ever become law. Additionally, abortion is not healthcare. If human dignity is given to each person when created in the womb, then abortion is not only an assault on the image of God but also causes irreparable harm on a vulnerable life. We believe abortion denies precious human lives both personhood and protection, and therefore cannot be considered as healthcare.

The role of government should be to protect these vulnerable, preborn babies, not to exploit them by removing restrictions on abortion that put their lives in grave danger.

This bill is extraordinarily pro-abortion and ought to shock and grieve our consciences.

How is the ERLC involved?

The ERLC is strongly opposed to this bill and any effort to legalize abortion. We urge the Senate not to pass this destructive piece of legislation. It would put thousands of vulnerable, preborn lives at risk and steamroll over the the consciences of millions of Americans who do not wish to pay for or be compelled to provide abortions.

The ERLC will always advocate for life before Congress, the courts, and in the public square, and we’re are working toward a day when abortion is both unnecessary and unthinkable. We desire to see a culture where mothers are supported and provided with resources and where life is honored and valued. 

By / Jun 11

Close to 62 million babies are missing from our society today.1https://www.texasrighttolife.com/more-than-61-million-babies-killed-in-47-years-of-legal-abortion/ The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 set into motion a literal death sentence for these little girls and boys. We should mourn that tragic reality. But we must not stop there. And we haven’t. 

God has raised up a movement of Christians from all denominations and traditions, as well as other people committed to life, in order to become a voice in the public square for those robbed of their voice. We wanted to feature some of the brave individuals, families, and organizations who are boldly standing for the lives of our smallest neighbors. We hope you will be inspired by their testimonies and tireless efforts.

By / Apr 15

Editor’s note: Because we care about championing the dignity of every individual’s life, from womb to tomb, we wanted to highlight the beauty of adoption. As you read this testimony, we pray you are gripped with compassion for every baby, mother, father, family, and pregnancy resource volunteer involved in the journey of an unplanned pregnancy. This story was given to us from Lifeline Christian Services, who is doing amazing work in the adoption space. 

When I think about the job I get to do as a pregnancy counselor, the word that comes to mind is “sacred.” Walking with a woman through pregnancy, birth, and adoption is full of a range of emotions and challenges, but mostly it is a privilege. 

For the past six months, I have worked with a birth mother named Becca. She found herself in an unplanned pregnancy, and her world flipped upside down. In desperation, she considered abortion but knew that was not the Lord’s will for her baby’s life. She reached out to Lifeline Children’s Services in May and decided to make an adoption plan for her precious baby boy. 

As I got to know Becca, I learned that her heart for the Lord was so evident in her life. She was walking through the darkest of valleys in many ways, but chose to trust the Lord and seek healing in every way she knew how. Becca faced shame, anger, abandonment, and grief, yet she could say, “I would rather walk through the pain with the Lord than make a decision not in my son’s best interest.” 

As her pregnancy counselor, I became a safe place for Becca to process her decision and feelings. I also learned a lot about God through Becca. Tears come to my eyes thinking about the way the Lord intertwined our lives and draws us to himself. Not only did Becca point me to the Lord, but she made me laugh uncontrollably and taught me more about the world.

Becca’s beautiful baby boy was born on a rainy day in late September, and in that moment, God brought an abundance of redemption into Becca’s life. Instead of feeling shame and anger, she felt a love and peace that she could not put into words. 

While at the hospital, we giggled and cried and dreamed for her son’s life. She chose to move forward with the adoption plan and, after her legal withdrawal time ended, she sent me a message saying, “Praise the Lord who has given me strength.” 

Every birth mother is incredible, but Becca has been someone special to me. Being her pregnancy counselor has been humbling, life-giving, and such an honor. I look forward to witnessing, in the years to come, how the Lord works in Becca’s life. 

Our Father proved faithful again, making what seemed hopeless, redeemed. What a privilege to be able to walk with her and allow the Lord to use me in her life and her in mine.

By / Dec 30

Argentina’s president, Alberto Fernández, has promised to sign a bill that will decriminalize abortion at up to 14 weeks of pregnancy for any reason. Like most of South America, the country of 45 million is largely Roman Catholic. The bill, which passed in congress on Dec. 11 and in the Senate on Dec. 29, makes Argentina the largest country in Latin America to legalize abortion. 

Abortion was criminalized in Argentina in the late 19th century, and currently the only legal abortions are in cases of rape or if the mother’s health is in danger. In a video posted to Twitter on Nov. 17, Fernández said women are forced to have unsafe backstreet abortions due to the laws making abortion illegal. According to Fernández, nearly 40,000 women in Argentina sought hospital care because of botched abortions in 2019, and these abortions have led to the deaths of 3,000 women since 1983. In the video, Fernández said, “It was always my commitment that the State accompany all pregnant people in their maternity and take care of the life and health of those who decide to interrupt their pregnancy. The State must not ignore any of these realities”

Fernández took office in December of 2019, replacing Mauricio Macri, who opposed legalized abortion. In 2018, the Senate rejected a similar bill that would legalize abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy by a vote of 38-31. The bill lacked government support, and the Catholic Church strongly opposed it. With Fernández introducing this bill, however, it passed by a surprisingly wide measure of 38-29, with one abstention. 

Taking to Twitter to celebrate the bill’s passage, Fernández acknowledged that he had kept his campaign promise to work for legalization of abortion. “Safe, legal and free abortion is the law,” he said. “Today we are a better society that expands rights to women and guarantees public health.”

In 2018, Pope Francis, a native of Buenos Aires, was quoted as saying about abortion, “Last century, the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves.” In his recent comments to the U.N., Francis decried the view many hold of abortion as a solution to society’s complex problems, saying, “It is troubling to see how simple and convenient it has become for some to deny the existence of a human life as a solution to problems that can and must be solved for both the mother and her unborn child.”

Pro-abortion sentiment has been on the rise in Argentina, increasing in 2019 partly due to public outrage over the case of an 11-year-old who received a Caesarean section after being raped by her grandmother’s 65-year-old partner. The girl and her mother sought an abortion, but questions about guardianship rights stalled the process until she delivered a baby by C-section at 23 weeks. 

According to a report released by Argentina’s Social Development Ministry, there were 2,787 births to mothers under the age of 15 in 2015. The country’s economic crisis has compounded problems of abuse and violence against women. In the second half of 2018, poverty increased from 27.3% to 32% of the population, according to Argentina’s National Institute of Statistics and Censuses. Homelessness is on the rise, and a lack of resources affects more and more women. 

Fernández said the bill would be followed by a second bill that would create a “Thousand Days Program” to “strengthen comprehensive care” for mothers and children during pregnancy and the first three years of life. The second bill is intended to support those who would otherwise resort to abortion due to poverty.

While we should applaud efforts to provide comprehensive care for mothers and young children in vulnerable situations, that care must extend to the most vulnerable, the unborn. There is nothing caring about telling a woman in a difficult situation that ending her child’s life is the way to ensure her survival and that of any other children she may have. We must seek to protect life at every stage.

By / Dec 23

Free, downloadable bulletin insert for use by your church on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

To see additional SBC event dates, visit sbc.net/calendar.

By / Dec 2

With our new United States Supreme Court Justice confirmed, many hope we are getting closer to the possibility of abortion becoming illegal in our future. So we all need to ask ourselves, are we ready?

There are many reasons why a woman feels the need to choose abortion. Whatever the reasons a woman might have for seeking an abortion, all of them are rooted in fear. So, what would we do if there were women who were pregnant and scared, even angry, that they must carry an unplanned baby to term? It wouldn’t be right for us to look away and say, “Good luck!” We would have to be available to assist spiritually, emotionally, and physically. It’s time for the church to get ready. We can’t ignore these precious women. 

We can’t just vote a certain way or talk about what needs to change, we are the change. And it will take all of us to create change. Miracles won’t happen if we are content to pass by on the other side of the road when we see people who are hurting, bruised, and afraid. It is time to activate our beliefs by being “good Samaritans,” bandaging the wounds of the broken and introducing them to the healer of hearts.  

How you can get involved in pro-life work

Many of you may ask, “Okay, we need to love. But how? What does it look like in practical terms? How do I know where to start? Where do I find a place to serve or get involved? I don’t even know what’s out there or what I might have to offer.” 

The pro-life movement is filled with love and opportunity. The possibilities are endless. Whether you partner with an organization that is already doing great things or start something new on your own, there is a place for you to help and serve. God has put certain strengths, gifts, talents, and passions within you so you can use them for his glory and your neighbor’s good. 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you pray about where to get involved: 

  1. What are you passionate about? What is your favorite hobby or thing to do in your spare time? Can it somehow connect to the pro-life movement? For example, if you love numbers and accounting, you might help a single mom create a budget. If you’re familiar with human resources or love career coaching, you might help a single mom create her resume and find a good job. If you love children, you could offer to babysit. If you have a knack for fixing cars, you could help repair a single mom’s car. 
  2. What makes you pound your fist on the table and say, “Someone needs to do something about this”?  That someone might be you. There’s a reason why you get fired up about a certain injustice or cause. 
  3. What is your story? A lot of times, our purpose is tied to our story. Have you experienced an abortion and want to help others experience God’s healing the way you have? Did an unplanned pregnancy leave you feeling completely alone? Perhaps you can be the person you wish had been there for you. God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad for our greatest calling. 

Look out into the world and see what breaks your heart. Run toward your heartbreak, not away from it. Dig in and ask God if your heart is broken because his is too. When your heartbreak becomes a map to find a place to serve, it will set your soul on fire. If all of us work together, we can empower women to be brave. We would be blessing future generations, because brave moms raise brave kids. 

The pro-life movement is filled with love and opportunity. The possibilities are endless. Whether you partner with an organization that is already doing great things or start something new on your own, there is a place for you to help and serve.

Have an open heart, and just start. Take a step and see where the pro-love path leads; God may show you an opportunity you never knew to look for. There might be a new mother out there who needs you. And while you can’t fix all of her problems, you can point her to the one who can. 

The church isn’t a building. People are the church. We are the church wherever we go, and we represent Jesus wherever we are. And we, as the church, can play a powerful role in saving lives. We can help prevent unplanned pregnancies by affirming identity and the value of individuals as daughters and sons of a King and by talking about hard topics like sex and abstinence. The church can be one of the first places a girl runs to when she finds out she has an unplanned pregnancy; it should never be the place she avoids because of shame and guilt. 

We can help women be brave and choose life. We can reach out and invite these women and men into a spiritual family. We can help heal past hurts and wounds because free people free people, pointing to the good news of forgiveness in Christ. And we can help practically by giving single or struggling moms support so they don’t just survive, they thrive. If we join together, using all the strengths and gifts God put inside each of us, we can push the tipping point back toward life. And back toward love.

By / Dec 1

I had the dubious distinction of graduating from high school in 1973, the year Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton where handed down by the Supreme Court, giving the U.S. the most permissive abortion policy in the Western world. I remember well the question everyone was asking at that time: “When does human life begin?” 

Justice Harry Blackmun famously wrote in the court’s majority opinion, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer” (p 159). For decades, the abortion debated hinged on the answer to that question. 

Today, no matter what their view on the legality of abortion, every informed and honest person agrees that an individual human life begins at conception. The science is settled. When half the chromosomes from a woman’s egg line fuse with the other half from a man’s sperm, a new, genetically unique human being comes into existence. To be exact, at least one genetically unique human being comes into existence, because twinning is still possible at that point.  So, human life begins at conception.

We’ve known the science for a long time, but the implications have become clearer over time. For instance, the debates in the early 2000s over human embryonic stem cells actually helped to clarify the debate about abortion. For a long time, the debate about abortion was ostensibly as much about a woman’s body as about the destruction of an embryo or fetus. Abortion was justified, and still is by many, on the basis of a woman’s right to control what happens in her body. The fetus is in her body, so the woman has a right to have it removed, even if doing so results in the death of the fetus—or so the argument goes. 

With the human embryonic stem cell debate, the woman’s body was removed from the equation. The light was shown like a laser on the living human embryo. Human eggs and sperm were retrieved from donors, fertilized in a petri dish, and coaxed to develop in vitro (literally, in glass). The debate about human embryonic stem cell research was never about “when human life begins.” Everyone knew that the eggs were from a human female, the sperm from a human male, and the result was living human embryos. Dead embryos would not work for research purposes. And the scientist doing the research did not want dog embryos, cat embryos, or even mouse embryos. They wanted human embryos, and that’s what they got. Living. Human. Embryos.

The question of personhood

How, then, can someone who believes that human life begins at conception justify abortion or even human embryonic stem cell research? Because the question has been reframed. Of course the embryos are clearly human, and of course these tiny humans are clearly alive, but they are not persons. The argument shifts then. Yes, persons have a right to life—a right not to be unnecessarily harmed—but, the argument goes, human embryos are not yet persons. Only persons have a right to life. 

When does personhood begin?  That is the question now. Or to put it another way, are embryos persons? Are fetuses persons? For that matter, are newborns persons?  

In a seminal essay on abortion, reprinted in nearly every introductory anthology on ethics, philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson posed a hypothetical. Suppose, she said, you awakened one morning to find that someone had surgically connected your kidneys to a world-class concert violinist in order to preserve the ailing violinist’s life. This will mean that you might be confined to a bed for nine days, nine months, or nine years, depending on how long he lives. Thomson asked, “Are you morally obligated to maintain the connection?” 

She then embarks on a very interesting, if convoluted, journey to try to demonstrate that you only have a very minimal obligation to sustain the life of the violinist if doing so does not cause great inconvenience to you. Even though she is willing to grant for the sake of the argument that a fetus is a person, at the end of the essay she reveals her own view of the moral status of the unborn human being. “At this place, however, it should be remembered that we have only been pretending throughout that the fetus is a human being from the moment of conception. A very early abortion is surely not the killing of a person, and so is not dealt with by anything I have said here.” Case closed. Fetuses are not persons, according to Thomson. So, is no harm done in killing “it”? No, to be accurate, the fetus is a him or her. Even our language signals that fetuses are gendered persons. 

What is personhood? Or, better, who is a human person? Human persons (in contrast to divine and angelic persons) are individual members of the species Homo sapiens. Rocks are not persons, plants are not persons, and animals are not persons, despite efforts to grant great apes, dolphins, and other animals personhood status. In theological terms, a human is someone made in God’s image and likeness (Gen. 1:27). 

In Genesis 9:1-7, God makes a distinction between animals and humans, giving Noah and his family permission to kill the animals for food, but prohibiting the unjust killing of another human being because humans alone are made in God’s own image. The image of God, the imago Dei, is the basis of human exceptionalism. Although there are various theories about just what constitutes the image of God in humanity, it’s clear from Scripture that human beings alone are made in God’s image.

Human beings—imagers of God—are persons from conception. This is clear in passages like Psalm 139:13-16 (HCSB):

For it was You who created my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You
because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
and I know this very well.
My bones were not hidden from You
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in Your book and planned
before a single one of them began.

David, the psalmist, acknowledges God’s intricate handiwork in the womb. He also realizes that God knew him as a person before he was born. The real questions today, then, are who counts as persons, and what are our obligations to persons? If every member of the species Homo sapiens is a person, then we have certain obligations not to unnecessarily harm other human beings. The unjust taking of the life of an unborn human being is a harm. Therefore, abortion is wrong because it is the destruction of a human person.