ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–“We have become so morally blind that we save baby whales at great cost and murder millions of unborn children,” observed author Alice von Hildebrand. If it is moral blindness to allow abortion on demand while protecting any number of non-human species from the slightest encroachment — and it is — what should selective abortion based on a pre-born baby’s sex be called?
Might I suggest “moral bankruptcy?”
Swedish health authorities recently ruled that gender-based abortion is not illegal in the Scandinavian country. In February it was discovered that at least one woman has twice had abortions after learning the sex of her unborn children. The unnamed woman from Eskilstuna in southern Sweden aborted the babies she was carrying when she learned they were females. It seems she already has two daughters and did not wish to have a third.
Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare has ruled that abortions up to the 18th week of pregnancy must be granted, even if the unborn baby’s gender is the reason for the abortion.
While abortion on demand, in and of itself, is a horrible crime against humanity, it is especially troubling when an unborn child’s life is snuffed out because the mother is not satisfied with the sex of the child. It is equally tragic when a preborn baby’s life is terminated because he or she is likely to have physical or mental difficulties, which occurs regularly in America (Nine out of 10 babies identified as having Down syndrome are aborted in the United States).
How does a nation come to the place where unborn children are deemed to only have value if they are the “right” sex or have the “correct” health? By analyzing the situation in Sweden, a couple of clues emerge as to how a culture comes to accept the killing of the most innocent members of society.
The first step toward a culture of death is legalizing abortion. Sweden was among the first nations in the world to legalize abortion in 1938. Initially, the law allowed an abortion for “medical, humanitarian or eugenical” purposes and a woman had to have permission from the government to terminate her unborn child. Under the Abortion Act of 1974, a woman can obtain an abortion for any reason up to the eighteenth week. After that time, permission must be granted and usually is.
Legalizing an activity legitimizes it and, at the very least, gives it tacit approval. Once abortion on demand is made legal, the state is saying that in some circumstances it is perfectly acceptable to kill innocent life. While the government may not outwardly encourage abortion on demand, it has nonetheless placed its stamp approval on the practice.
When a nation subsidizes an activity, the activity naturally flourishes. Sweden provides socialized health care, thus abortions are paid for, at least partially, by the government. So not only does the Swedish government allow abortion, it helps provide the funding for the practice.
A nation picks up speed as it moves toward becoming a culture of death when there is no voice opposing abortion on demand.
Since the onset of abortion, church life in Sweden has been, at best, liberal and, at worst, non-existent. According to a variety of reports, currently only 5 percent of Swedes regularly attend church. Additionally, the church in Sweden, such as it is, historically has been mute on anything deemed political.
“The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state,” declared Martin Luther King, Jr. “It must be the guide and the critic of the state…. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal,” the slain civil rights leader said, “it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”
With no conscience crying out on behalf of the unborn, the practice of abortion in Sweden has become more accepted with each successive generation. The result: Babies are now killed because they are not the “right” sex.
How does America compare to Sweden on the issue of abortion of demand?
In 1973 America joined Sweden on the slippery slope toward a culture of death when the Supreme Court made abortion on demand legal throughout the United States. In the 30-plus years since, the primary motivation for abortion has become convenience.
A main difference between America and Sweden is the presence of a prophetic voice. Since the Roe v. Wade decision, America has had the presence of a constant and tenacious pro-life voice. For three decades, conservative churches and pro-life organizations have relentlessly decried and denounced abortion on demand. And, it seems, the prophetic voice may be beginning to have an impact.
A new Gallup poll, conducted May 7-10, found 51 percent of Americans calling themselves “pro-life” on the issue of abortion and 42 percent “pro-choice.” A Gallup press release noted: “This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.”
While it seems America is on the brink of moral bankruptcy where innocent life is concerned, this recent poll does provide some glimmer of hope. Perhaps, spurred on by prophetic voices, our nation can claw its way back up the slippery slope to a place where innocent life is once again deemed priceless.
We certainly can pray to that end.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.