Pregnancy is beautiful, powerful, amazing. Where there was one, now there is two. God creates, and in His astonishing generosity, He grants women the opportunity to share in this new, generative, life-forming process.
A new life begins. A new body is formed.
But with this wonderful opportunity comes weighty responsibility, because beginning at conception, every pregnancy involves two or more bodies.
No matter how you spin it, women don’t have four arms and four legs when they’re pregnant. Those extra appendages belong to the tiny human being(s) living inside of them.
The slogan, “My Body, My Choice,” betrays a tragic misunderstanding of what is taking place inside the womb. At no point in pregnancy is the developing embryo or fetus simply a part of the mother’s body, as a number of clear biological facts and all sorts of legal precedents indicate.
It’s a hard truth for many to hear though. The body inside your body is not your body.
The slogan, “My Body, My Choice,” betrays a tragic misunderstanding of what is taking place inside the womb.
I Wrote a Book
Sometimes the best way to communicate hard truths is to tell a story. Aesop used fables. Jesus used parables. Even the nursery rhymes of “Mother Goose” contain deeper, sometimes darker meanings.
So, I wrote a book.
It wasn’t my first time. Having written the bestselling YA dystopian trilogy, Meritropolis, I was well aware of the process. I love to write. And yet…
I didn’t want to write this book. I fought it, but the idea kept growing inside of me, and it wouldn’t leave me alone. When I tried to sleep, it whispered to me. When I tried to write something else, it tugged on the peripheries of my consciousness, daring me to look it in the eye. If I were to do so, I knew what it would mean though. Career suicide, most likely. Too controversial. Too ambitious. Delusional, really.
I’m a middle-aged, white guy writing a book about abortion, set in the inner city, and told from the POV of a young girl—all in a dystopian, futuristic America that’s eerily similar to the world we find ourselves in today. Not to mention, the book tackles complicated issues of reproductive rights, teenage pregnancy, feminism, classism, assisted suicide. One could be forgiven for thinking I’m in way over my head.
And then there’s the hate mail. I like getting emails from my readers at 3 a.m., telling me they stayed up late reading my books, and then, in all caps, WHEN IS THE NEXT BOOK COMING OUT? Those emails are nice. The emails (and reviews) that are not so nice accuse me of being a lunatic, fundamentalist, backward, woman-hating, white-privileged, out-of-touch cis-male Christian. And those are just the words that I can print. The other adjectives are … even less nice.
The Body Inside Your Body Is Not Your Body
But the idea was still there, tempting me, taunting me to look it square in the eye and just describe it for what it was: a hard truth about a hard, broken world. I don’t claim to have all the answers, and what answers I might have are not easy. But we can do better; we must do better. I’m a Christian, so the words in the Bible mean something to me. I know what Jesus has done for me, given his very body for me—he has made the ultimate sacrifice for all other bodies—and I have the simple joy just to say he knows me. And yet, the truth of this idea seemed so fundamentally basic that we can all agree on it, whether believer or unbeliever, atheist, agnostic, searcher, dreamer or skeptic.
The hard truth is this: the body inside your body is not your body.
When coupled with the truth implicit in all civilized society—we don’t harm other bodies—then even the most atheistic naturalist among knows: there are two or more bodies in every pregnancy.
Each of us has to admit, when we look at the ultrasound—even a young child knows; we all know—there’s another body in there. Where there was one, now, there are two. So, to delude ourselves into thinking it’s just my body, my choice betrays a tragic misunderstanding of reality.
To intentionally harm either of the bodies, mother or child, is wrong. Point blank.
But what if the pregnancy might do harm to the mother’s body? Of course, when two lives are threatened and only one can be saved, doctors must always save that life. But, if it is merely an inconvenience and not life-threatening, then the right to not be killed supersedes the right to not be pregnant. Society can reasonably expect an adult to live with a temporary inconvenience if the only alternative is doing permanent and fatal harm to another innocent human body.
But what about rape, incest or disability? Since none of these circumstances are sufficient to justify harming another innocent human body after birth, they’re not sufficient to justify harming an innocent human body before birth.
The body inside your body is not your body. We don’t harm other bodies.
And, if being a feminist means believing that we are all equal—different but no less equal—then how can one claim to stand for women everywhere while refusing to stand for the little one inside of her?
And, if being pro-life means believing all life is important—in the womb and outside of the womb—then how might we cherish and protect both mother and child?
The grace of Jesus Christ is available to all. Mothers who have made a decision they regret and now deal with the echoing pain. Fathers who have shirked responsibility. A nation who has turned a blind eye to the ravages of a “convenience abortion” culture. A church who has abdicated care for the least to the state. And yet, there is always hope in Jesus Christ.
That’s the hard truth. I’ve sought to tell the truth. Have you?
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. – Psalm 139:14
A version of this article originally published here.