The beginning of human life.
Conservative and critical Christians have a corresponding view of man, that human life starts with procreation.
In many ways, the Bible shows human life as a unit, from its divine origin to the continued life through the generations, including the various stages of development of the individual. The Bible does not speak of "a life without value or without human dignity", no matter if unborn, old or ill people are concerned.
In the "Handbuch der christlichen Ethik" (a German handbook of Christian ethics) Professor Böckle names some theologians who assumed that instead of the procreation, the "nidation" a short time later to be the start.
Modern science usually wants to be free of values, but its findings only show "flowing transitions" like the state of a fertilized egg cell and a grown-up person. Whatever the particular theories about the starting point of human life are, they are purely arbitrary. For instance, the embryologist Erich Blechschmidt: the former "biogenetic law" assumed by Haeckel - that the embryo is repeating animal states of evolution - is obsolete. Each organ unfolds according to a plan of its purpose in man. Today, the reactions of an embryo can be filmed by ultrasound cameras. The human geneticist Professor L. Lejeune also stated that the genes in the fertilized egg cell already contain a plan of the grown up organism of man. We could say they are the physical counterpart of that plan. Brain research, neurology of developmentand psychology deliver similar insights. Holistic and unprejudiced research can find consciousness and memory in earlier and earlier stages.
So these values are also significant beyond the boundaries of religious groups.
However, another question is how to deal with such views.
In the time of the Old Testament the commandment "You shall not kill" - Exodus 20 – meant, in a narrower sense, "You shall not murder"; later the opinions changed concerning what murder and homicide are. In a wider sense, the standard of the commandment is applied to all human life and vegetarians even apply it to animals. The modern approach of the inter-religious "World Ethos" ** contains the model of a "culture of respect of all life".
However, honest maternity centres - in spite of helping to have a child - must take the life of those concerned seriously with their difficulties, fears, inner conflicts and so on - instead of condemning all those who think about having an abortion. Women don't usually make the decision to abort a child "easily". The joint responsibility of men and women should also be considered, instead of ascribing the problem to the woman alone.
If the purpose is to minimize the number of abortions then it is also necessary, as a society, to facilitate life with children in the society. This means addressing social problems instead of producing more burdens for the poor, which is the cause of a lot of the abortions today.
The legal questions *.
Jesus Christ promoted ethical behaviour based on conscious decisions, instead of being effective only by the pressure of an external law or custom, as it was in the era of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, standards of law can support ethical questions, as humanity has tried in many fields of life.
Compared internationally, criminal law, strict or liberal, seems to have only a little effect on the amount of abortions. Therefore, as mentioned, other endeavours are necessary.
Abortion in the context of genetic engineering and medicine of reproduction.
Scientific research and artificial insemination "consume" embryos too. In some countries this is restricted by law. Recently the pre-implantation diagnosis has become a new temptation to produce additional causes for abortions.
Consequences for other areas of life.
Where protection of life is intended, one should also mention the dangers for born or grown up persons - especially risks, which are dangerous for born and unborn life at he same time. Environmental problems have bad influences on both mothers and embryos, which are more sensitive than grown-up persons. Movements for the protection of unborn life did not usually speak about these issues. In the same way, environmentalists usually skipped the problem of abortion. For example, the German television journalist Franz Alt was already concerned about this situation in 1985.
*) "Ways of Christ" is not a political Website. We
are not against anybody and don't raise political demands. On this page we
simply inform you about general standards.
**) See also our extra page "Basics of ethical values"
topics and main text.