Explaining Abortion to My Son

If you drive down Woodruff Road in Greenville, SC on most Saturday mornings, you might see an elderly couple holding baby dolls and signs protesting abortion.  A few months ago, as Elijah and I were out going to breakfast and running errands, I saw that we were coming up on this couple, and knew what it was about.  I thought about distracting him by pointing to something on the other side of the road (sort of like what I do when he and I walk past Victoria’s Secret in the mall), but I decided to just see what would happen.   Would he even notice?

(I’m not saying that my “let’s see what happens” thinking is the best parenting strategy.  I definitely can be on the more risky end of how I like to do things.  Pray for my kids, please, since their Dad is a little messed up in the head at times.)

And, yes, Elijah did notice.  Actually, he saw them and started laughing, saying, “That man is holding a baby doll!  Why is he doing that?”  

(I thought, “OK, God.  Here it goes.  Give me wisdom.”)  Here is how our conversation went as we drove down the road:

Me:  Do you see the signs they’re holding?  What are they trying to get you to think about?
Elijah:  Something called abortion.  What’s abortion?
Me:  Well, it’s something people do if they pregnant with a baby, and don’t want to be. 
Elijah:  What do they do?
Me:  They actually kill the baby while it’s still in the Mommy’s tummy.
Elijah:  (With deep sadness and shock in his voice) Why would they want to do that?
Me:  Why do you think?
Elijah:  Money.  Lots of people do stuff because they want money.
Me:  Well, that’s true.  But I think that people have abortions because they are either too selfish or scared to have a baby.  But most of all, it’s an issue on not trusting in God.  They forget that He loves them and that He is in control.
Elijah:  That’s really bad.
Me:  Well, we do the same thing, in a way.  Do you ever sin?
Elijah: Of course.
Me:  I do, too.  And when we sin, it’s basically telling God that we don’t trust Him.  We are trying to make our own lives work for ourselves.  But we need to remember that He made us, and that He sent His Son to die for us, so that we can live for Him and worship Him.

This post is not intended to start a rant or debate about the topic of abortion.  Maybe another post, but not here.  Mostly, I wanted to share how thankful I was that Elijah and I had this conversation.  

I was thankful that Elijah feels comfortable to have talks like this, and that God would give me wisdom to engage my son about this fallen world.   

I was thankful that I was the first one that got to talk about this with him; he gets to hear my thoughts first, and I want him to hear my thoughts more than anyone else’s.   

And I was thankful that this topic disturbed him emotionally, and that we got to connect it with the Gospel.  

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  1. What a great opportunity! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Good conversation. How old is your little boy?

  3. Do you realize that most of your sentences, if not all are either false, logical fallacies or arguably highly immoral to teach your kids?

  4. Sure, don't bother teaching him to empathise with other human beings, let's just judge them. Don't bother telling him about the real reasons people have abortions, let's just pretend early foetuses are just like children, who can magically suffer even though they aren't physically capable of feeling pain.

  5. Abortion isn't the equivalent of "killing babies". There is a distinct difference between an embryo and a fetus. You should google for the difference, and you may find out what is being taken into account when considering abortion. The intent behind naming an embryo, or even a fetus a baby in this way is very misleading, you're attributing characteristics to it that make abortion sound like murder. However, if you take this to the extreme, not allowing yourself to be raped would be murdering a baby as well. It's an extreme scenario, but that's what it leads to once you gradually expand the concept of abortion as an act of killing babies.

    Your second answer is an argument from ignorance, since there could be many other reasons, the rape argument comes to mind, you would deny a rape victim from abortion. Other than rape there are probably countless more sensible reasons why a person would want an abortion, that can not be summed up by the false dilemma you've raised.

    Other than that, it's highly immoral to tell your child that you judge these people as baby killers, think about it. You're not only against their right to have an abortion, you also condemn them by claiming they "kill babies". You don't know these people, you don't know why they're pro-abortion, and you know that they have committed no crime, why would you teach your child the hate or apathy you have towards another human? What good could come of it? If you want to teach him good moral, don't do it at the cost of others, and certainly don't teach them to hate others simply because they have a different point of view on subjects.

    Think about what kind of impact the term "baby killers" could have on a young mind, a term nobody who has an abortion deserves, they didn't commit murder, they actually kill a baby, would you want your child to believe these things without understanding it?

  6. *they didn't actually kill a baby.


  7. Rational and Anonymous --

    Actually the point of my conversation was about empathy, for the mother going through it, and for the baby. I didn't explain more fully, but the reason this conversation started was that I am not a favor of protesters like this. They distance themselves from the real people. I do want to teach my son empathy, and with a heart to help others trust God.

    And, it has been shown that fetuses do feel pain, even at just 4 or 5 months, I believe.

    I did not at all use the term "baby killers," though I stand by the fact that it is a baby. You think because I google "fetus" and "embryo" that solves the issue? How about the fact that the mother has to soon release hormones that keep her body from rejecting the embryo? Seems like that we are not just talking about "part of her body," as so many pro-abortion folks want to claim.

    And to say that I should talk about others actions even though not illegal is poor logic. That would be like me not talking about drunk people in an attempt to teach my son that he should never get drunk. Notice that in my conversation with him I am not talking about a specific person having an abortion. I am not condemning anyone at all. That is not my role.

  8. I apologize for interpreting it the wrong way, it came across to me as negative towards individuals who fight for their right to have an abortion.

    Personally, I don't think the suffering is in any way comparable to the possible suffering of someone who has to get their child aborted illegally, for example. Considering the pain an embryo or fetus might go through should be judged by the parents and their doctors, on a case to case basis. Not simply banning things out right because of your beliefs.

    We do not have good understanding of how the nervous system works, but the majority of abortions are done before the embryo has fully developed its nervous system, in great consideration for the suffering they might go through. It's not a question of whether it is human or a baby, but whether it has the ability to suffer.

    While you are entitled to name a group of cells, that have not yet developed any of the characteristics that make it into a human being, one who can think and feel emotion, and experience life consciously. Once you do, where do you draw the line? Sperm isn't very far off from this definition of a baby, would killing sperm then become murder as well?

    If you would google these terms and read about them, you might be able to find information that could convince you of what really happens during the prenatal development, and surely it would become very tricky to draw such clear cut lines about what is and what isn't murder.

    However, I did not intend to come here to debate with you in an unpleasant and perhaps obtrusive way about disagreements. I certainly did not intend to judge your methods of raising your child, I apologize if I came on as if I disapprove of your parenting.

    I never said you should talk about other actions, You have the freedom of speech and should be able to address any issue to your child. I was pointing out that you would refer to the pro-abortion protesters as pro-abortion, and ascribe negative properties to these people that are false. Explaining to your child that abortion is the same as murder is what I perceive as immoral.

  9. pro-abortion protesters as pro-murder*


  10. That's odd, it must've edited my last post with the correction.

    In any case, I apologized for interpreting it wrongfully, and I did not mean to come across as if I disapprove of your methods of parenthood.

    Then I went on to discuss the points you raised, however, I'll leave that for what it I would have to write it all over.

  11. Your original comment was caught in my spam. I found it and got it through the filter.

    I do appreciate your sensitivity, but I in no way took your comment as an attack on my parenting.

    You are right, there is much debate on what constitutes a "human" and when suffering starts. That is why I like discussing issues like this. But, as someone with a biochemistry degree, I would say that there is a big difference between a sperm (or egg) and a fully formed cell. A cell is typically thought of as the smallest unit of life.

  12. A sperm (or egg) IS a cell.

    Not the same anonymous ;)

  13. This is what is so sad about the entire abortion controversy: defining early abortion, which is nearly 99% of all those performed, as murder, is simply erroneous.

    Do you label all our U.S. soldiers as murderers if they have killed, as they plan to do? The U.S. has murdered thousands of innocent babies and civilians in the past 10 years and why are there called "baby-killers"? Where is the outcry compared to abortion?

    If abortion were ever to return to become an illegal surgery, we would see many more women die from botched attempts, while those performed now are in sterile, and under surgical conditions.

    BTW: Is it wrong for men to have vasectomies? Is it perfectly legal for men to be prescribed Viagra or condoms without questioning their marital status? Why do some want to deny the benefits of abortions as a very personal decision decided only between her doctor and her? Why the restrictive laws in some states to
    delay before surgery? It's plain and simple sex discrimination and restricting freedom for half the population when men are free to impregnate at will and not always consensually.

  14. if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

  15. As I wrote in the article, the purpose of this post was not to get into a debate about abortion, though of course anyone is free to comment on that.

    The main purpose is to give an example of how I'm trying to engage me kids in conversation about things that just aren't right in the world. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, all but the most staunch pro-abortion people know that abortion is not a great thing. Even Hilary Clinton said that abortion should be safe, legal, and RARE.

    No matter what leads someone down the road to abortion (whether rape, a rocky or non-existent relationship, medical need, etc), we can probably all agree that there is pain involved -- physical and/or emotional.

    One day, there will be no more tears and pain. But until then, Jesus has called His disciples to reach out to and comfort those who are in pain. That pain, and need for comfort, is what I want my kids to understand.

  16. Well, I have a lot to say about this topic. I am a volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center and I see women who are seeking counsel before their decisions as well as women who have had abortions. I also work with a post abortion ministry helping women overcome the horrible after math of abortion. Besides what God has to say about abortion (which is a lot) there are emotional scars and pain as well as MANY other things that post abortive women (and men) deal with. You have no idea unless you see it first hand. There is forgiveness and comfort for anyone seeking it after an abortion but it IS murder and just like an alcoholic has to admit he is an alcoholic in a twelve step program before he can heal, the post abortive woman has to admit she took a life and then the healing begins. Comparing vasectomies,or condoms or anything else is not even close.. This absolutely is about a personal choice and one that will probably never go away but that choice is one that is forever life changing. That is a fact. I used to be "pro choice" myself before I knew the Lord. What I had to do was put that aside and believe what God says. You either believe the Bible or you don't . God says it is wrong, period. Besides all that, what the post abortive woman (and men) suffer is beyond anything you can imagine.. I have a heart for hurting women and I know there is forgiveness once repentance takes place, just like any other sin.. Scripture is very clear on this topic. If one doesn't believe what Gods says that is another whole subject.

    1. Thanks for posting this. I'm so glad for people like you who are the front lines -- supporting, loving, and guiding women in this situation.

      As a scientist, though, I could add a little to your last sentence. I think I could make a pretty solid case that the fetus is NOT just part of a woman's body (as many in the pro-choice world want to say). In fact, I just read this article today, where scientists are unraveling the mystery of why the mother's body doesn't reject the fetus. If it was just a part of the body, there would be no reason for her body to reject the fetus.


  17. For the record, I don't agree with the people parading the streets with their message. There is a better way..

  18. I am glad that you have had the chance to introduce Elijah to the topic of abortion. It is a hard subject, but ignorance doesn't produce bliss. I grew up being pro life/ against abortion and can remember feeling passionate about it as early as age 8. (In second grade during the month of January, my teacher had encouraged our class to write our own "I have a dream" speeches. One paragraph that I had included originally simply said that it was my dream that one day there would be an end to all abortion. However, I was told by my teacher that I should not include that because it was "too controversial". I regret this now, but because of what my teacher told me I cut that passage out of my speech. Looking back, I don't think I should have and I know I didn't want to then, but I felt my teacher was giving a mandate, not a suggestion, and I was afraid of not complying.)

    I think that until I became a mother, it was hard for me to have compassion for those who would argue in favor of abortion- especially those who viewed abortion more as a right, the unborn human as an impersonal collection of tissues, and pro lifers as ignorant adversaries callously seeking to bring into bondage all women who were pregnant when they didn't want to be. It's amazing how a simple change in circumstances can totally change one's perspective!

    I have never ceased to detest abortion. I still think it is horrific- a modern Holocaust. However, because of my experiences I have a great deal more compassion for abortion advocates and I realize that the women who seek abortions are victims also- though not necessarily devoid of culpability.

    What I've realized is something that cannot be argued/ understood well by someone who does not have faith in G-d. This is that abortion is a tragic consequence of a lack of faith in G-d. Even the most humanitarian support of abortion (to save the life of the mother, to treat the trauma of an impregnated rape victim, to spare the families involved of the burden and agony of a severely disabled/ critically ill child, etc.,) fails to observe the answer the rhetorical question posed by G-d in Genesis, "Is anything too hard for the L-rd?" I am grateful that there is a growing outreach to minister to both the child and the mother in those circumstances where women find themselves pregnant reluctantly because of the good they (crisis pregnancy centers) are able to do. I think that there is a growing awareness now even among "abortion rights" advocates that abortion has never been an ideal solution, maybe more of a necessary evil, but when the world has a chance to see love in action like that (crisis pregnancy centers and such), I think more people are drawn to trust G-d and see what He can do in seemingly impossible situations.

    1. I think your thinking is great. You are right that the core issue isn't abortion, but trust in God. We can stop all the abortions we can, but if we don't do our best to engage the mom (and others), we are missing something.

      Thanks for your insightful comments!