This is the first in series of articles intended to prepare Christians to biblically defend a pro-life ethic against common pro-choice arguments for legalized elective abortion. This article addresses the “Back Alley” argument.
A Back Alley Argument typically is typically stated as follows:
Pro-life laws are anything but. Laws prohibiting abortion won’t eliminate abortions. Women will continue to procure abortions, only from dangerous “back alley” practitioners. Rather than risk the health of abortive mothers, it’s best to keep abortion legal and make sure it’s safe and rare.
A Christian Response
So-called “pro-life” laws are not just about preserving life but doing justice. As a matter of justice, the killing of an innocent human being should be against the law. It is true that laws which crimialize abortions won’t entirely eliminate abortions. Neither have laws against theft and manslaughter eliminated stealing and killing. Yet, laws against theft and manslaughter are on the books in every stable society and are entirely uncontroversial.
Those who break the law are criminals and the government rightly punishes them as a matter of justice. Consider the Apostle Paul’s teaching in Romans 13:1-8:
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
Criminals do what is evil and therefore seek to hide from the minister of justice. This is why crimes are committed in back alleys. That’s exactly where criminal abortions would take place. When abortions are committed in public clinics, by licensed doctors, murder is done out in the open. This is not justice, this is wickedness. The Lord demands justice. Consider Micah 6:8:
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?
God does not look favorably on abortion being kept legal so those who would otherwise be criminals, as a matter of safety, don’t have to murder innocent babies in back alleys. Furthermore no abortion be considered “safe” because the intent of an abortion is to kill an unborn baby. Pro-life legal regulation will ultimately save many lives but, more importantly, laws protecting innocent babies are just.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.