Why The Ireland Referendum on Abortion Is Not A Step Forward

Last week, a landslide referendum in Ireland legalized abortion in that country in the first twelve weeks of a pregnancy. This referendum, being hailed as a step forward in the progress of that country, is anything but.

Before I proceed, I want to acknowledge that this is a painful and personal subject for many. I have walked with women in my church through the emotions that come both before and after an abortion. My aim here is not to pile on guilt, but to help people understand why this is not a step forward, but a step backward.

A Step Backward in Human Life

Why is it that Christians are so tenaciously anti-abortion? Because Christians are tenaciously pro-life. The Bible teaches that humans are made in the image of God. That means there is something about our essence that separates us from the rest of the created order. But, what is that thing? Is it our intellegence, our ability to reason or our self-awareness? I think it includes those things, but the image goes deeper. The image is the thing in us that makes God love us and enables us to love.

Human life is special because human life is different. Every person has, in some way, the image of God in them and that makes their life worth fighting for. This is why Christians opposed slavery, why Christians started hospitals and orphanages and why Christians oppose abortion.

A Step Backward in Human Logic

When we depart from the design, we lose our foothold in logic. Want an example? Fetal homicide laws. In 38 states the mother has the right to kill the baby inside her, but if the mother is hit by a drunk driver and the baby dies as a result, it’s murder. In one case the baby is a life with value, in the other case it is not. So, what determines if life has value? Certainly not logic.

What about the argument that a woman can do what she wants with her body? Here we have two logical problems. First, no, a woman can’t do whatever she wants with her body. We have laws against prostitution and organ sale. Problem two, it’s not a woman’s body that we are dealing with, it’s a baby’s body inside the mother.

A Step Backward in Human Compassion

Humanness’ is being decided by the strong while the weak suffer. The strong in the United States 200 years ago decided that humanness meant white and African-Americans were enslaved. Nazi Germany decided that humanness meant ethnic Germans and Jews were slaughtered by the millions. Iceland has decided that to qualify as a human, you can’t have Down syndrome. This madness is spreading and this year alone more than 40,000,000 babies will be killed globally.

Nowhere is the image of God more clearly seen in humans than our willingness to fight for the rights of the weak and who could be weaker than a baby?

A Step Backward in Human Redemption

If my argument is sound and we are set apart by this image in us, why, then, are we capable of so much horror? Because the image has been marred. At the core of the Christian message lies the reality that we are a fallen race in need of redemption. If we deny the image we bear, we deny humanity’s highest virtue, greatest problem and only hope.

To the reader who has been through the difficult and emotional decision to have an abortion. Where does that leave you? It leaves you with me and the rest of humanity: a fallen human who needs redemption. Jesus came to restore the image in us. He died to enable the image bearers to accurately represent the Image. He died to pay the just penalty we deserve and to give us everything He earned with his perfect life. Through faith we trade places with Him and He begins a process of conforming us into His image. An image that will be fully and eternally complete at the end of time.


A person’s value is not attached to a skin color, ethnicity, genetic code or age. All humans have value because we are made in the image of God. One day we will look back on abortion in the same way we now look back on slavery and the holocust. A time when the worst of humanity was unleashed on the most vulnerable. Ireland has made no step forward this week, but one giant step backward.


3 thoughts on “Why The Ireland Referendum on Abortion Is Not A Step Forward

  1. Yes, I agree with what’s here; but I saw nothing specific to Ireland. My disappointment rises from getting no idea what changed in Ireland that defeated the Church in this topic. Did something change there in recent decades? Were the votes decided by geography? (Ireland is a reverse “Bible Belt.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. Yes, I couldn’t do that in less than 1000 words which is usually my goal. There are two main contributing factors. First (and likely largest), is the collapse of the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in that country. Second, a major economic increase. Neither of these things is necessarily bad, but they are the main contributors to the 180 degree shift in that country in such a small time.


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