This chilling testimony about the emotional effect of abortion comes an article in The Weekly Standard by David Daleiden and John Shields entitled “Mugged by Ultrasound”. It is a visceral quotation, I am warning you.
In general, abortion providers have censored their own emotional trauma out of concern to protect abortion rights. In 2008, however, abortionist Lisa Harris endeavored to begin “breaking the silence” in the pages of the journal Reproductive Health Matters. When she herself was 18 weeks pregnant, Dr. Harris performed a D&E abortion on an 18-week-old fetus. Harris felt her own child kick precisely at the moment that she ripped a fetal leg off with her forceps:
Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes—without me—meaning my conscious brain—even being aware of what was going on. I felt as if my response had come entirely from my body, bypassing my usual cognitive processing completely. A message seemed to travel from my hand and my uterus to my tear ducts. It was an overwhelming feeling—a brutally visceral response—heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my feminist pro-choice politics. It was one of the more raw moments in my life.
Reading this article coincided with some recent reflection on my part on abortion. If we conservative evangelicals think that we can avoid preaching on abortion, we’re kidding ourselves. The Bible is far from silent on this matter. When you’re covering Pharoah’s sacrifice of children in Exodus, or the sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter in Judges 11, or the effort of Herod to kill the Christ-child in Matthew 2, you are in direct contact with texts that speak to abortion and the killing of children. (Russ Moore has an article on this that I commend to you.)
When you consider that you are not preaching these texts in a culture that celebrates the life of the fetus, but seeks to extinguish it to the tune of millions of unborn children each year, then you have a real quandary on your hands. Even those who do only the most elementary application of the text to our age can’t help but see that there is a massive and bloody connection between the efforts to kill children in the Bible and those that continue in our own day.
We have been led by so many different commentators to think hard and well about ways to apply the Bible’s teaching to our own day. But we have to be very careful here. We shouldn’t pick and choose what cultural sins we call out and what sins we leave alone. Nobody protests when we preach against our lust for success; many will protest when, in the course of our preaching through the whole canon of Scripture, we preach on the necessity to defend the lives of unborn children.
If and when they do so, we should realize that this is not an aberration; this is the way of the cross. Yes, we should be wise as serpents, but we are also called to be salt and light. The examples of the apostles call us to preach boldly and courageously before the Lord with no regard for our lives. Perhaps many of us who desire to “engage the culture” should read old texts like Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, and soak up a little bit of the courage contained in it.
Of course, I am not advocating that we preach in favor of certain pro-life resolutions. I’m also not advocating that we preach single-issue messages on abortion. I’m also not suggesting that, if we’re preaching on Matthew 2 or some other text, that we devote the majority of our sermon to the issue of abortion. I’m merely saying that we are not being fanciful or political when we preach on abortion from texts that cry out for application of this subject to our present-day.
Sometimes we reformed practitioners of expository preaching tie ourselves up in knots on the question of preaching and politics. Of course we should not generally preach on certain laws and resolutions; of course we should not have a political pulpit. But just because an issue is debated in the political realm does not mean that when we are in a given text by the natural rhythm of our preaching calendar we avoid preaching on it. Though that action may proceed from a good motive (the desire to not politicize the pulpit), it may actually end up silencing the Scripture and its relevance for our contemporary age.
We will have to preach carefully and responsibly on abortion and other scriptural subjects, but this must not, it seems to me, muzzle our clear and courageous denunciation of a practice so wicked as abortion.