The Intrinsic Value of Life
The intrinsic value of life and even the question of when life starts have become some of the most disputed and confused questions in today’s society. Unborn babies cannot be heard, so it is up to everybody else to make sure that the leaders of the future aren’t killed before they’re even born. As with many other issues, the government and the Bible have two different things to say about the matter, but sadly they have very few similarities.
Although the Bible never directly addresses the issue of abortion, there are several examples of places where it demonstrates that life begins at conception. The most obvious place to start is at the beginning, when God created man. It says in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” This says very clearly that we are made in the image of God, and so we should never try to kill anyone that is a reflection of Him. Both the Bible and the laws agree that life should not be ended by people, but where they disagree is when life begins. One of the most definitive passages about this is Psalms 139:13-16, which says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” This passage has many different aspects about the intrinsic value of life and when life begins. The first verse says that God creates each life individually, which means that from the moment of conception, every baby has value, just because it was made by God. Later it says that God has a plan for a baby even before it is born, and by choosing abortion someone is basically saying that they know better than God and they won’t let his plans happen.
One of the best examples that show that unborn babies are just as valuable as other people is found in Luke 1:39-45. In this passage Mary was pregnant with Jesus and went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. It says, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ’Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.’” These verses demonstrate that even an unborn baby knew when he was in the presence of Jesus, and that even before he was born Jesus was the Son of God.
Unfortunately, the laws in Iowa don’t have all of the same values as the Bible when it comes to when life begins. Chapter 707.7 part 1 of the Iowa Law states, “Any person who intentionally terminates a human pregnancy, with the knowledge and voluntary consent of the pregnant person, after the end of the second trimester of the pregnancy where death of the fetus results commits feticide. Feticide is a class ‘C’ felony.” It is therefore allowed to have an abortion before the third trimester, and so it would seem that the law says that life begins to have value at the start of the third trimester. There is a loophole in the law, however. It says later in part 4 of Chapter 707.7 that if a licensed physician determines that it is necessary to perform an abortion in order to “preserve the life or health of the pregnant person,” then an abortion can be performed after the second trimester. The problem with this law is that it is unenforceable, because the term “health” is never defined. Iowa law punishes the killing of an unborn baby without permission from the pregnant mother almost equally as murdering anyone else, so it seems to contradict itself. The key here is the permission of the mother: it is not saying that killing an unborn baby should be counted as murder; it is simply saying that permission is required. Essentially, the Iowa laws say that life begins when a baby is born, and not any time before then.
It seems as if the Iowa law and the Bible are completely at odds, which is mostly true, but there is one point at which they agree. Iowa laws treat harming an unborn baby without the mother’s permission almost the same as harming anyone else, as do the Old Testament laws. It says in Exodus 21:22-25, “Take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” This is not exactly the way that the Iowa law handles it, of course, but this is the way any other harm was handled in the Bible, so they are basically the same. Other than this one similarity, however, there are no other significant similarities between the laws in Iowa and the Bible when it comes to the value of unborn life.
There are many more differences than there are similarities when someone carefully compares the laws of Iowa and the laws of God. To start out with, the Bible points clearly to the fact that life starts at conception, as the earlier verses pointed out. The law, on the other hand, seems to say that life does not begin at all until the third trimester. Based on the clause about preserving the mother’s health, though, life doesn’t even completely begin until birth. All of the other differences between the laws and the Bible are results of this confusion about when life begins.
The point at which life really begins is the point of much debate because it determines if abortion is right. One major problem with the current Iowa laws about abortion is that if they begin to allow people to kill unborn babies just because they are a “nuisance,” then pretty soon the Government will allow people to start getting rid of other “nuisances.” This would be terrible, because it quickly creates a country with no sense of right or wrong, just as Israel drifted away from God in the Old Testament.
So why are we still killing people made in God’s image? The question really comes down to the values that our society holds. We have begun to not care if anyone gets hurt just as long as life is easy for us, and it is easier to kill someone if they can’t be heard. All life has intrinsic value because God individually created all life in his image, not just life that can be seen and heard, so we must stand up and be a voice for the voiceless when the Government refuses to do so.