In recent years, a surge of academic inquiries has sought to dissect the contentious issue of abortion from various angles: moral, legal, scientific, and sociological. This has led to a broad range of opinions, some claiming the practice to be a woman’s right, while others condemn it as a moral catastrophe. Interestingly, the scholastic community has turned its attention to the notion of “fetal pain,” seeking to address whether a fetus can experience pain during an abortion. The authors of a comprehensive paper on the topic reluctantly conclude that, based on recent neuroscientific data, dismissing the possibility of fetal pain is untenable. They even propose that fetuses, from as early as 12 weeks, may very well experience a form of immediate and unreflective pain.
However, while it is certainly legitimate to consider and discuss scientific discoveries and academic musings, relying solely on these factors as the basis for a pro-life stance is inherently flawed. The mainstream “pro-life” movements have, unfortunately, leaned heavily on secular data and argumentation to make their case. While these arguments aren’t necessarily invalid and some of them can be compelling, the danger is in the lack of an objective standard of morality to which we must appeal, which can only be found in the Scriptures.
Relying on the ever-changing caprice of scientific consensus or public opinion is risky—today’s accepted “truth” may be tomorrow’s “debunked theory.” And to be frank, such an approach essentially submits the God-ordained principle of life’s sanctity to the whims of fallible human reasoning, more often than not leading to dangerous concessions. For example, if scientific data were to erroneously conclude that fetuses feel no pain, would that then make abortion morally acceptable? Of course not. The ultimate authority on this moral crisis lies within the Holy Scriptures, which unequivocally affirm the sanctity of life without regard to human reason or scientific discovery.
That being said, a 2020 paper on fetal pain that delves into the neuroscience behind it is enlightening and unsettling in equal measure. The authors argue that even though our understanding of the nature of fetal pain is not complete, the scientific evidence increasingly supports the possibility that a fetus does indeed feel excruciating pain during an abortion. This research joins a growing body of evidence that pushes the ethical consideration of abortion into ever darker territory.
By even conceding the idea that a fetus can experience pain, as the authors of this paper did, abortion becomes doubly reprehensible—not only snuffing out a life God Himself crafted, but also meting out needless agony upon a defenseless human. However, this exposes the foundational weakness of grounding pro-life arguments in secular thought. The paper’s authors sidestep this moral crisis by advocating for fetal analgesia during abortion, thereby dismantling mainstream pro-life reasoning that hinges on fetal pain perception. Yet, should we settle for such moral ambiguity? Absolutely not—not when the infallible Word of God gives such irrefutable and unambiguous clarity on the sanctity of life.
The Scriptures, God’s inerrant Word, are the final authority on all matters of ethics and morality, including the sanctity of life. The very first chapter of Genesis states that mankind is created in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:27). This concept forms the bedrock of our understanding of human dignity and worth. Jeremiah 1:5 further strengthens this point, with God Himself declaring, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” Clearly, the formation of life is not just a natural biological process but a Creative work of God.
Psalm 139 echoes this sentiment, revealing that God is intimately involved in the formation of a child in the womb. The psalmist exclaims, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” The portrayal of God as the ultimate craftsman, knitting together a human being in the womb, should be enough to shatter any ill-conceived arguments for the disposability of that life.
While the growing scientific acknowledgment of fetal pain is noteworthy, our opposition to abortion is not based on whether a fetus feels pain, has a heartbeat, or is “viable” outside of the womb, or not. Our unwavering opposition to abortion is rooted in the Biblical revelation that each life is a divine creation, fearfully and wonderfully made.
Ultimately, the only compelling reason we have to stand against abortion is that God, the Author of Life, formed that child in the womb, and when one commits an abortion, they aren’t merely ending a biological process but are committing an act of murder in direct rebellion against the Creator. It is not about infringing on a “woman’s choice,” but about infringing upon God’s choice to bring that life into being.
While science may add layers of complexity to the abortion debate, revealing unsettling truths such as the potential for fetal pain, it will never replace the ultimate truth laid out in Scripture. Even if no scientific evidence supported the claim that a fetus experiences pain or has a heartbeat, the fundamental argument against abortion remains unchanged. God formed that life, made it in His image, and we have no authority to end what He has so fearfully and wonderfully made.