The lead-up to the 2024 Presidential election is a perfect opportunity to educate the world about the truth that all people are made in the image of God and are therefore equally valuable, without qualification—born or preborn.
Abortion was a fiery issue in the first Republican Primary Debate. Democrats are talking about it too, especially after their true but very unpopular position of unfettered abortion-on-demand until birth was called out. They used it as a keystone issue in 2022 and plan to do so again to win back the House, turning the deep blue state of New York into a key battleground state—for the first time in decades.
Polls show a majority of Americans want at least 98% of abortions restricted. Quizzically, Republican candidates seem tbe running their campaign strategies on pro-abortion Democrat terms. Worst of all is Haley, giving tacit credibility to Democrat lies that Republicans wish to outlaw contraception, refuse miscarriage care, and send women to jail for getting an abortion. Yet, not one Republican or legislature has ever considered these things.
In fact, Haley’s 20-week gestational age ban on abortion would allow for 99.1% of all abortions in America to continue, making her about as pro-life as Genghis Kahn. The more ostensibly pro-life candidates have placed themselves on a gestational age limit spectrum again submitting to pro-abortion Democrat debate terms. Gestational age limit language refers to limiting a woman’s right to abortion after a certain point in her pregnancy. For Pence it is 15 weeks, permitting 95.1% of all abortions. For others like DeSantis, it is 6 weeks, permitting 45.3%. Some have moved away from arbitrary gestational age limits to arbitrary baby development characteristics such as when the heartbeat is observable, the point at which the baby can feel pain, or “viability,” the age at which the baby could survive outside the womb.
Presidential elections churn the social cream, raising important issues people are not accustomed to hearing or thinking about…abortion is one of them. The U.S. government is based on the rule of law, a constitution with enumerated rights emanating from God, transcending any one particular generation, or worse, any subset of a Nietzschean ruling elite re-engineering society by fabricating human rights. These newly created rights, as Justice Alito noted in the Dobbs decision, ultimately collide with the inalienable ones at which point the government must step in to arbitrate between the two competing rights. A perfect example of this is the government-fabricated right to abortion competing with the God-given right to life, or religious liberty, or freedom of speech.
America’s foundational documents, our rule of law, is the only provision for an impartial justice system. Not only does Scripture tell us all people are made in the image of God but the Declaration of Independence notes that all people are “endowed by their Creator [not their government] with certain unalienable rights.” And then there is the Constitution itself with amendments that forbid the denial of life, liberty, or property without due process of law (5th Amendment) or mandating equal protection under the law (14th Amendment). A Presidential election year is one of the most advantageous moments to communicate these critical truths in the public square.
Yet all these here-and-no-further lines in the sand ring morally hollow as they are all arbitrarily drawn. They do not create consensus nor engender confidence in the candidate. In reality, this tactic 1) gives implicit admission to the Democrat’s portrayal that Republicans are mean and seek to rob women of their reproductive rights and 2) makes it look like Republican candidates have an inflated sense of power. There can be no magical personification of preborn boys and girls by the opinion or decree of a man or ruling elite. Either all humans are equally valuable or equality is just a word used to manipulate the masses to curry votes and power. Determining when it is permissible to kill a preborn boy or girl based on arbitrary age or developmental characteristics is a barbaric Republican Hunger Games.
A true pro-life statesman will understand that while the Supreme Court through Dobbs gave the states the right to restrict the practice of abortion at their discretion, it also said that one cannot construe a right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution. And since it is not the role of government to decide which persons qualify for equal protection under the law, which category of human can be deprived of life without due process of law, then it stands to reason the default position must be to protect all, especially the most vulnerable voiceless. In fact, rights and laws exist to protect the weak from the oppressor. Otherwise, Darwin is the rule of the day, let the strong survive and the weak just die.
The problem is both theological and logical.
Theologically, we know two things: First, all people are created in the Image of God and are, therefore, equally inviolable (Gen. 1:27, 9:6). Second, the opposite of love isn’t hate, but partiality (Jas. 2:8-9). As soon as we begin defining who is worthy of protection and who is not, we stand in the same place as the lawyer who, seeking to justify his own poor behavior toward his fellow man, asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” (Lk. 10:29).
But even if one is pro-abortion or even refuses the Judeo-Christian understanding of the inherent and equal value of all people, logically, there is no way to sustain a civilized order if we justify the killing of a preborn boy or girl person based purely on his or her characteristics, stage of life, or location—even if still in the mother’s womb. It’s a slippery slope. If we let anyone—even Republican Presidents—decide the terms to disqualify a person or category of person from protection under the law, then we leave all people exposed to the raging whims of the rule-of-man. Whose head is up next for this voracious new Madame Guillotine? The disabled? The depressed? The politically disfavored?
What every Republican Presidential Candidate—as well as all elected Representatives—should understand is that arguing for abortion restrictions based on gestational age or developmental characteristics concedes the flawed, pro-abortion point that abortion is a right greater than a person’s right to life. This misses the golden opportunity to convey the truth of the inherent dignity, inviolability, and personhood of all people, born and preborn.
We must reset the abortion debate to be about protecting the personhood of a baby—a citizen, and fellow bearer of God’s Image—without partiality. Only then will we be standing upon the unshakable rock of truth, safeguarding the rule of law for the next generation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rev. James R. Harden, M.Div. is the CEO of CompassCare Pregnancy Services and lives outside of Rochester, NY with his wife and ten children. Jim pioneered the first measurable and repeatable medical model in the pregnancy center movement, helping over 650 centers nationwide become more effective at reaching more women and saving more babies from abortion. He has written extensively on medical ethics, executive leadership, and pro-life strategy.