I recently read an article whereby two academics, writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, have argued that killing a new-born baby is no different to abortion. They claim that although a foetus and new-born are human beings, they are not a 'person' because they are not able to value their own existence. They argue that parents should have every right to killing the new-born for whatever reason necessary, just as they have the right to aborting an unborn child.
Read here and here for more on this.
My wife and I watch One Born Every Minute every week as we love the story and drama of birth. Each and every time a baby is born I am amazed. What strikes me more than anything though is how vulnerable they are.
I remember holding both my girls after they were born and recognising how vulnerable they were. I knew that I had a responsibility to care, nurture and look after them.
I rarely, if ever, hear churches talking about abortion and what our response should be. I understand this because it is a difficult topic to talk about and a topic that people are passionate about on both sides.
If we do talk about it the conversation is often framed in pro-life, pro-choice, baby's rights, woman's rights type ways. If it is framed in this way then there is nothing wrong with killing new-born babies, because the argument is no different to abortion. If babies are born severely disabled, ill, healthy, or whatever, but will, for whatever reason, cause massive strain, pain and burden upon a mother, then her 'right' as a human being is to have that baby killed. It is a logical outcome of such a line of argument.
We live in a horrific and crazy world of contradictions. I am sure there may be those who find the idea of killing babies horrendous, but see abortion as ok.
Walk down a hospital ward and I do not doubt that in one part of the hospital a foetus is being aborted by doctors and in another part of the ward a baby who is the same age and weight is being kept alive by doctors.
So 'rights' and 'choice' do not leave us anywhere helpful.
This is an issue for the Church and the Church should frame the conversation theologically.
God is a God of vulnerability. Within Himself as Father, Son and Spirit there is vulnerability as the Father, Son and Spirit mutually love and indwell each other. Therefore God is passionate about the vulnerable and the helpless. Throughout Scripture it is exactly those who are more vulnerable that God cares most passionately about. His anger flows towards those who abuse, manipulate, coerce and trample on the vulnerable. He calls Israel and then the Church to be passionate and compassionate towards the vulnerable.
God is a God of community, in an eternal relationship within Himself as Father, Son and Spirit. Therefore Israel are called as a people, together to serve and worship God and to be sent as a people into the world to lead others towards the living God. The Church is called to make God known and invite all people into a living relationship with Him. We are not isolated individuals who can do what we want, but are part of a community.
Christians do not have a right to their bodies because they are baptised into Christ and his Church. Their bodies belong to God and so how we use them is directly a worship issue. How we use them is directly a community issue too.
Christians are called to care for the vulnerable within the context of the Church community. Any pregnant woman and any unborn or born child is a vulnerable person. And so the Church is called to have compassion and care for these vulnerable people. We are called to be a people of compassion, love and grace. The Church is called to care for and raise children together, whatever situation that child is born into.
Jesus demanded his followers to care for children. As soon as we know a child is created we can have hope for them. This hope is awakened in us as soon as we know that life is growing. And out of this hope which comes entirely from God, we seek to care for and value these lives.
It is not about preservation of life because Christians are called to be willing to die for the sake of Jesus. It is about the call to value life and care for the vulnerable. One day we will all die, but while we live we must do all that we can as followers of Jesus to have compassion on our most vulnerable.
And we are called to be a people who leave violence behind in any form, physically, spiritually or emotionally. We are called by the Prince of Peace to be a people of peace, to forsake violence and walk in the Way of Jesus.