By Dave Sterrett | January 26, 2015
We all become aware of death at different ages, through different experiences. For many of us, our first encounter comes with the death of a great-grandparent at a ripe old age. The less fortunate may experience having a parent or a child torn away far too soon. But regardless of the nature of the introduction, death leaves an unmistakable mark. A couple of years ago in Dallas, I watched a nurse escort a young woman from a building to her car. From across the street, I could see that the patient’s cheeks were stained with tears. She looked barely out of her teens, but her face was tight with pain and shock. I had seen that look before: the mark that an encounter with death leaves on an innocent face.
The building I was watching wasn’t a hospital; it was an abortion facility. I was standing across the street praying for the women entering and leaving. As I drove home that day, I fought back tears and found myself only able to pray the words of Christ: “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”
Death is a natural part of life, but at times in history it has swelled to epidemic proportions, swallowing up all in its path. The Black Death of the mid-1300s claimed between a half and a third of Europe’s population, leaving almost no city untouched. An estimated 39 million souls have perished from AIDS since 1981.
But other epidemics have been completely man-made. An analysis of 20,000 mass graves in Cambodia’s infamous Killing Fields indicates that Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge executed and buried roughly 1.4 million innocents. More recently, around 800,000 Tutsis were slaughtered in Rwanda over a three-month period in 1994.
A German Christian during World War II recalled hearing the sound of the trains that were taking Jewish people to the Nazi death camps, where 6 million of them would die:
“Week after week the whistle would blow. We dreaded to hear the sound of those wheels because we knew that we would hear the cries of the Jews en route to a death camp. Their screams tormented us.”
As modern Americans, we cannot fathom such atrocities occurring in our midst. Our children attend schools with zero-tolerance policies for violence, which prohibit even playing with toy knives and guns. Our celebrities regularly take to the airwaves to discourage bullying. Not only do we arrest and publicly eviscerate anyone found to be involved in animal abuse such as dog fighting, but improperly handling the egg of a bald eagle is punishable with up to a $250,000 fine and six months in prison. Surely, a society so condemning of violence of any kind would be free from man-made epidemics of death.
Yet since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973—which, along with Doe v. Bolton, effectively made it illegal to restrict abortion at any stage of pregnancy— more than 56 million American babies have died from abortion. To this day, we continue to lose more than 1.2 million babies a year: our own killing fields, our own genocide, our own holocaust.
According to pro-abortion activists, these 56 million babies would have been born into horrible circumstances or prevented their mothers from realizing important life goals. Their lives, we are to believe, were not worth living. But have the deaths of these babies really improved the lives of their mothers, or have they left an unmistakable mark?
In fact, post-abortive women are at risk for anxiety disorders and depression, as well as alcohol and substance abuse. According to a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, “Women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems.” Women who have had an abortion are 154 percent more likely to commit suicide than women who give birth.
An overwhelming number of women who “choose” abortion have been bullied into the decision by boyfriends, husbands or parents. The 2004 study Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women found that at least 64 percent of post-abortive women studied felt pressured to end their pregnancies. Neither is abortion an equal opportunity killer: In America, black mothers are five times more likely to abort than whites.
Why did America, the wealthiest country in the world, become so quick to dispose of the babies we conceive? Mother Teresa noted the irony in her 1994 address to the National Prayer Breakfast: “Many people are concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. … But often these same people are not concerned with the millions being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is the greatest destroyer of peace today—abortion, which brings people to such blindness.”
One reason for America’s abortion epidemic lies in the Roe and Doe decisions themselves. Since 1973, America’s laws governing abortion have actually been far more brutal than those of our European counterparts. Because of “health of the mother” clauses (which can be interpreted to mean anything), our laws allow abortion literally up to the moment of birth. The only other countries with such a savage abortion policy are Canada, China and North Korea.
No one is more innocent than babies, and nothing is more natural than our desire to protect them. Charles Darwin himself famously observed that there was “something” innate about infants that prompted adults to want to care for them. Neuroscience has confirmed that nurturing babies is hardwired into our brains: A study at the University of Oxford identified the medial orbitofrontal cortex as the region of the brain that controls the protective instinct all normal adults feel toward babies, even unfamiliar ones.
So what happens when a society’s legal code rejects the personhood of unborn humans and defies the natural desire of parents to care for their children? It is not just unborn life that becomes devalued, it is all life. Peter Singer, a well-known ethicist at Princeton University, already openly advocates the killing of infants after birth. Once we no longer hold all life precious, the slippery slope to valuing only the strong and the beautiful is all too real.
Abortion has already exacted a heavy toll on other countries. After years of aborting baby girls, China now faces a scarcity of women to marry its surplus of single men. Russia has banned abortion advertising, as its shockingly high rates—which according to the BBC in 2003 were as high as 13 abortions per 10 live births—have decimated its population.
Is America headed down the same road, or do we still have time? I believe that it is never too late to humble ourselves and cry out for God’s forgiveness. Whether someone has had an abortion, been complicit with an abortion or simply turned a blind eye to the slaughter, we can all find redemption in Jesus Christ. Let us rejoice with the Apostle Paul, who proclaimed, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15). D 2014 DAVE STERRETT