Despite Bill Clinton’s famous statement that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare,” today only one of those three adjectives is actually descriptive of abortion in America. Abortion remains legal in all 50 states. However, abortion never has been safe for the child involved, and with more than 3,000 abortions being performed every day in America, abortion is far from rare.
Some abortion activists have argued that making abortion rare should never have been a stated goal of pro-choice politicians. In keeping with this, the word rare was dropped from the Democratic platform in 2008, and today the Democratic platform simply calls for abortion to be “safe and legal.” Other abortion activists point to such large numbers and (with varying degrees of civility) ask those who oppose abortion: “What are you going to do, adopt all of those unwanted babies?”
If abortion kills a human being, such a question largely misses the point. However, I say largely misses for a reason. We who believe that abortion should be illegal do need to wrestle with the inevitable outcome of getting what we wish for. If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned and laws were to be passed outlawing induced abortion across our nation, more than a million children a year would be born into situations where the mother would apparently have preferred to abort her child.
As Christians we could choose to respond to the “Are you going to adopt them all?” question by pointing out that one couple’s choice does not necessarily obligate others to deal with the results of that choice. We could similarly try to argue that actions have consequences and that people need to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. But when those “consequences” are a child, and when in many cases the couple (or single mother) is completely unable to care for the child, things are significantly more complicated. Every day in America young women discover that they are expecting a child they weren’t really anticipating. Often the biological father responds to the news by promptly disappearing. Sometimes the young woman has a great family support structure that could help her raise the child, but in many cases, the young mother herself is a fatherless teenager with no skills or resources to speak of. As believers, while we should firmly oppose the practice of abortion, we must also try to understand the plight of the many young women who find themselves in such situations during any given week. Apart from Christ, is it any wonder that many feel they have no alternative to abortion?
Not every Christian couple (or individual) is obligated, or even able, to step into such situations and welcome a new child into their home by means of adoption. But if passages such as James 1:27 are representative of the Christian’s attitude toward those in need, then we should be continually asking ourselves what we can do to be part of the solution to the problem of abortion and the reality of abandoned children.
The world looks at unplanned pregnancies and sees abortion as the obvious answer. As believers we should look at these children and see adoption as a better response and a wonderful opportunity to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Many Christians are not able to adopt for one reason or another. But nearly all believers can play a part in supporting, understanding, and encouraging those who choose to pursue adoption. As believers we should vote for life whenever we have the opportunity to do so, but a biblical view of human life should also affect the way we think and live outside the voting booth.
Cruver, Dan, ed. Reclaiming Adoption. Adelphi, MD: Cruciform Press, 2011.
Elliot, Diane Lynn. The Global Orphan Crisis. Chicago: Moody Press, 2012.
Merida, Tony and Rick Morton. Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care. Birmingham, AL: New Hope Publishers, 2011.
Moore, Russell. Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009.