A group of Jamaican pastors and Christian leaders urged their country’s political leaders to legalize abortions this week, claiming they want to “hold out the compassion of Christ” to pregnant women in need.
The 19 “committed Christians” made their case for abortion in an open letter published in the Jamaica Observer Tuesday. They supported a parliamentary committee recommendation to legalize abortions up to 12 weeks. Abortions currently are illegal in Jamaica except in a few rare circumstances.
“We recognise that terminating a pregnancy is never an easy decision, but we hold out the compassion of Christ to all women faced with this decision,” the pastors wrote.
They argued that, prior to 12 weeks, the unborn child is not developed enough to deserve protection under the law.
“Science tells us that at six weeks the embryo is so tiny it can fit within our small finger nail; at eight weeks it weighs 1/30th of an ounce,” they wrote. “At 12 weeks, now called a foetus, it is four inches long and weighs one ounce. It has all its organs, but none are functioning.”
This is not true. Brain waves are detectable by nine weeks and an unborn baby’s heart begins beating by six weeks of pregnancy, though research by the University of Oxford suggests it may begin as early as 16 days after conception. If those are not organ functions, what are?
They continued: “Aborting an embryo up to 12 weeks is not murdering a baby. There are pictures being circulated to promote this idea that an embryo of 12 weeks or less is an almost fully grown foetus (at 23 or more weeks when it is viable). This is, unfortunately, highly deceptive. In today’s jargon they are fake news!”
Evidence contradicting their claims is abundant. From photos of miscarried babies to ultrasound images to biology textbooks to the countless pregnancy websites, these resources show that babies at 12 weeks look like tiny human beings with all their major organs in place, fingers, toes and even movements like a newborn.
But even more importantly, the pastors are wrong to believe that a human being’s level of development should determine their worth. Just as a toddler is no less valuable than a teenager, an unborn baby at eight weeks is no less valuable than one at 13 weeks.
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The pastors argued for killing underdeveloped unborn babies anyway, writing, “Women must be free to reject an undeveloped embryo or foetus in order to better preserve their lives and the lives of their present or future children.”
Later, they claimed that because God is “goodness and love,” Christians must support the killing of unborn babies.
“We conclude that there is nothing that suggests that women are to be seen as mass producers of as many children as they can bear. Instead children, women, men and life in general are to be treated with respect and care,” they wrote. “If we follow Christ, we bring compassion, humility, and love to all.”
But “all” does not include unborn children in their minds. Their position is not just inconsistent, it also is unbiblical.
Though the Bible may not mention the word “abortion,” it does condemn what an abortion does – kill an innocent, vulnerable unborn child who is made in the image of God. Jesus placed great value on children when others in society did not in Matthew 19:14, and Proverbs 6:16-17 states that one of the things God hates most is the shedding of innocent blood. One of the ten commandments forbids murder.
Many Christian churches, including the Catholic Church, teach that every human life is valuable from conception to natural death, and the Bible recognizes that babies in the womb are valuable. The story of Jesus’ own birth includes references to unborn babies and their value.
But opposing abortion is not just a Christian view. People who practice other religions or no religion at all also believe it is wrong to kill an innocent human being, no matter how small they are.
Those signing the letter included Dr Anna Kasafa Perkins, coordinator of the Caribbean Women Theologians for Transformation; Rev Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth, chief executive officer of the Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation; Rev Dr Sonia Hinds of the Anglican Diocese of the Windward Islands; and Patricia Donald Phillips of Women’s Media Watch Jamaica. Many of the signees appeared to be associated with the University of the West Indies.