This is the fourth part in a five part series that will address the primary assumptions within the Shout Your Abortion movement. If you missed our previous three articles (Should Women Shout Their Abortions?, Is Abortion Freedom?, and Is Abortion Normal?), I’d encourage you to stop now and read each of them first.
This week, I’ll be exploring the third assumption of Shout Your Abortion: Abortion is good, because I am a good person.
Abortion is Good, Because I am a Good Person
“Plenty of people still believe that, on some level—if you are a good woman—abortion is a choice that should be accompanied by some level of sadness, shame, or regret. But you know what? I have a good heart, and having an abortion made me happy in a totally unqualified way.”
This is an excerpt from the original Facebook post by Amelia Bonow where she shared about her abortion experience. This is the post that sparked the Shout Your Abortion movement.
Not long after her post went viral, Women’s Health Magazine published an article about the movement titled, “No, You’re Not a Bad Person if You’ve Had an Abortion.” The article describes how women from all over the world were coming forward to share their abortion stories, and summed up by stating, “These women aren’t bad—if anything, they’re good, thoughtful citizens.”
In another article, Bonow told the Washington Post, “Women should be the ones to define the experience of what abortion is, instead of colluding to this idea that it’s bad, and that we’re bad.”
These quotes are very interesting to me because, if you dig a little, you can see an underlying belief that fuels these words: people are basically good. And good people don’t do bad things. So if a woman has an abortion, that can’t be a bad thing, because she’s not a bad person; she probably had a good reason.
The overall tone of the Shout Your Abortion movement (and these articles) seems to support the idea that people are inherently good. And if scores of good people are choosing to do something that is legal (abortion), then abortion can’t really be all that bad. Right?
Is Humanity Good or Evil?
The question of whether or not humanity is good or evil has been debated throughout history. I have to say, though, that I don’t understand why it’s a debate. To me, it’s painfully obvious that humans are inclined to be “bad.”
Well, that’s because you’re a Christian, Mary, you might reason. Yes, I am a Christian, and yes, Christianity does teach that humanity is depraved and sinful from the beginning.
But honestly, Christianity aside, the rottenness of humans still seems blatantly obvious to me. Why? Spend 5-10 minutes with a toddler, and you’ll see what I mean.
I have two young children—two pictures of innocence and goodness, right? Wrong, wrong, WRONG. I’ve had to work hard (and am still working hard) to teach them to obey, share, and speak kindly. But I’ve never once had to teach my children to lie, throw tantrums, punch other kids in the face, steal my food, disobey me while smiling sinisterly, or manipulate me. They just do it. It comes naturally to them.
But let’s not be too hard on little ones. Because really, they are just mirror images of what lives hidden away in adults—we’re just (usually) better at filtering and controlling our natural impulses. Are humans capable of incredible goodness? Of course. Are humans also capable of incredible evil? Take a quick look around at our world, and the answer is obvious.
But while most of us might intellectually acknowledge that we’re inherently evil, if we take a look in the mirror, I think we’ll see that we tend to live as if we are inherently good. This becomes apparent when we say things like, “I would never (fill in the blank).” We don’t really believe that we’re capable of certain kinds of evil. The people who do bad things, well, they’re bad. And they do bad things for bad reasons.
The assertion is that, because I am inherently good, if I choose to do something, it’s probably for a good reason. And if I have a good reason, then it can’t be bad.
‘Remember Your Goodness’
But does it really matter which way we view ourselves when it comes to the issue of abortion? I believe it does, and to show you what I mean, consider this article on the Abortion Care Network’s website, written a few months ago, titled, “You are a Good Woman.” Below are a few excerpts (emphases mine):
You are a good woman. It may be hard for you to believe that right now, but deep in your heart you know you are making your decision out of a place of goodness. This pregnancy and whatever choice you make about it doesn’t change that….
When you hear something over and over, like “abortion is murder,” it can get into your head—like a commercial. But if you really believed that abortion was the same as murder you probably wouldn’t even be considering it….
If you have thought carefully and made the best, most responsible choice you can, then what’s all this judgment and criticism doing in your head? Don’t you deserve to feel peace and resolution? If you begin to doubt yourself, remember your goodness. You could take a deep breath and put your hand on your heart and say to yourself, “I am a good woman doing the best I can.”
Don’t miss the radical claim this article is making. Here is the author’s assertion: Sure, murder is bad, but abortion can’t really be murder, because if it were, you would never even consider it because you’re a good person. So the fact that you are considering it is proof positive that abortion is not bad, because you are not bad.
If I were to apply this reasoning to every aspect of my life, I could essentially justify doing whatever I want as long as I cite my own goodness.
And if you think I’m exaggerating, consider this story from a couple years ago where a woman was caught on tape hiring a hitman (who was actually an undercover cop) to kill her husband. Her reasons for trying to have him murdered are caught on video, and are jaw-dropping.
“’When I first decided to do this…it’s not that we weren’t getting along,’ she says on the video. ‘But…terrible as it sounds, it was easier than divorcing him.
‘You know, I didn’t have to worry about the judgment of my family, I didn’t have to worry about breaking his heart, all that stuff like this. It’s, like, how I got a clean getaway.’”
Her justification? The impact of a divorce would be too difficult for her husband and family; ending his life would be the best way to avoid hurting anyone long-term.
In her mind, her desire for something good (not wanting to break her husband’s heart, avoiding divorce) was an acceptable reason to commit murder.
Masters of Justification
In my last two articles (Is Abortion Normal? and Is Abortion Freedom?), I took some time to establish both the humanity of the unborn and the reality that abortion intentionally ends the life of unborn humans, rendering abortion an undeniable act of murder. Today, I am arguing that self-proclaimed goodness is another feeble attempt to justify a decision to do something that we all, deep down, know to be wrong.
One of the most difficult lessons I’ve learned in life is this: there is nothing that I’m not capable of. And every time I am arrogant enough to start a sentence with, “I would never,” I almost always end up eating my own words.
So let’s call abortion what it is. Abortion is not good. Abortion is murder. And no matter how kind, selfless, compassionate, friendly, or generous we believe ourselves to be, abortion will always be murder.
And no amount of “good people” or “good reasons” will change that.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”No matter how kind, selfless, compassionate, friendly, or generous we believe ourselves to be, abortion will always be murder. And no amount of “good people” or “good reasons” will change that.” quote=”No matter how kind, selfless, compassionate, friendly, or generous we believe ourselves to be, abortion will always be murder. And no amount of “good people” or “good reasons” will change that.”]
Admitting Who We Truly Are
Christianity does affirm the depravity and hopelessness of humanity. According to the Bible, there is no one who is good (Romans 3:10-12). But Christianity also offers hope in the face of that depravity. In fact, because of Jesus, Christianity makes a staggering claim:
“For God made Jesus, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin so that we could be made right with God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NLT)
The Bible says that we are hopelessly “bad.” But because of Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection, we are counted as righteous—as good—when we believe in Jesus and receive his free gift of salvation.
Because of Jesus, we don’t have to rely on our own fabricated sense of goodness. We can admit that we—that all people—are capable of terrible things; but, because of Jesus, we can be forgiven and freed from those terrible things we have done.
That’s the Christian concept of grace. And because of this grace, we can now make the hard, right decisions in life because we know that Christ is better and he empowers us to do so.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Because of Jesus, we don’t have to rely on our own fabricated sense of goodness.” quote=”Because of Jesus, we don’t have to rely on our own fabricated sense of goodness.”]
A Better Way
If abortion is part of your story, these truths apply to you, too. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). You don’t have to be weighed down by guilt and shame when you put your trust in Jesus to make you right with God.
But knowing Jesus also means we don’t run headlong into things we know are bad.
One day, Jesus was teaching at the temple in Jerusalem to a crowd of people. The religious leaders brought a woman caught in the act of adultery before him and asked him what should be done with her. They were trying to test Jesus; they wanted to manipulate him into going against the Jewish Law that called for someone caught in adultery to be stoned to death.
But Jesus told them that the person who has never sinned should throw the first stone. Of course, all the religious leaders walked away one by one, recognizing that none of them were without sin.
Jesus indicated that he was the only person worthy to throw a stone at the woman because he’d never sinned, but chose to show her grace, instead. He asked, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” She quietly replied, “No, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more” (John 8:1-11).
Jesus’ grace in our lives causes us to want to “go and sin no more.”
If you’ve chose abortion in your past, don’t listen to the absurd claim that what you did wasn’t bad. It was. You took the life of your child.
But now, remember that even though you took your child’s life, Jesus gave up his own life for you. Because of his great love, Jesus is calling you to go and sin no more.
So don’t try to look to your goodness to save you from guilt and shame.
Instead, look to Jesus. He is better.
Jesus will always be better.
Mary Holloman is the Communications Assistant at GPCC. You can follow more of her work at maryholloman.com.
Carter Mundy is the Associate Executive Director at GPCC.