A Glimpse of the Future: Abortion Museums

This excerpt was taken from an article in the UK Telegraph, in which a man considers future opinions of abortion, after getting an invitation to attend the opening of a slavery exhibition:

"I found myself wondering how abortion will be viewed by museum curators, teachers, historians and moralists 200 years from now.

As the slavery exhibition shows, something that one generation accepts readily enough is often seen as abhorrent by its descendants – so abhorrent, in fact, that people find it almost impossible to understand how it could have been countenanced in a supposedly civilised society.

How could people not see that Africans should not be bought and sold for the convenience of our trade or our domestic life? We reserve particular scorn for those who sought to justify slavery on moral grounds. We look at the moral blindness of the past, and tut-tut, rather complacently.

It is not hard to imagine how a future Museum of London exhibition about abortion could go. It could buy up a 20th-century hospital building as its space, and take visitors round, showing them how, in one ward, staff were trying to save the lives of premature babies while, in the next, they were killing them.

It could compare the procedure by which the corpse of a baby who had died after or during premature birth was presented by the hospital to the mother to assist with grieving, with the way a similar corpse, if aborted, was thrown away.

It could display the various instruments that were used to remove and kill the foetus, rather as the manacles and collars of slaves can be seen today.

It could make a telling show of the propaganda that was used to promote abortion – the language of choice, control of a woman over her own body – and compare it with less happy information about the infertility caused by abortion, or depression or about the link between breast cancer and having an abortion before the birth of the first child.

It could show how women, vulnerable and often alone, came under pressure from the medical authorities to have an abortion without being offered help with the alternative.

The museum could make a pretty devastating contrast between the huge growth of rights for the disabled, which began in the late-20th century, and the fact that the disability (or even mild deformity) of a child was always grounds for abortion.

Just as, today, we are invited to glare at the Georgian portraits of fat, bewigged English sugar planters or pro-slavery politicians, there could be a rogues' gallery of pro-abortionists.


"But the reason I throw this argument into the future is that, with the passage of time, abortion, especially late abortion, is slowly coming to be seen as a "solution" dating from an era that is passing. It will therefore be discredited.

Partly it is the effect of technology. My wife and I still have the video of the scan of our twins at about 18 weeks. You can see heads and limbs. That was in 1989. It bears the same relation to the technology today as do silent, black and white films to modern Hollywood hyper-realism.

Nowadays, it is even more visible and undeniable, as it was not to the first generation of people who had legal abortions, that what you are removing is human – human, though usually not in independent form, like you and I.

It is also visible that this human entity is alive, and therefore that, by removing it, you are taking life.

You may say that this physical image should not make a difference to the moral case, but in practice it does. The famous anti-slavery image was of a black man in chains, on his knees, saying, "Am I not a man and a brother?"

It was powerful because it used the physical to make a direct moral appeal: this person is essentially like you in body and soul, so why do you deny him the rights which you demand for yourself? To see a foetus in the womb is to experience the same appeal.

If you want to do people wrong, you must first undermine the idea that they are people. The Nazis called Jews rats. The Hutu in Rwanda called the Tutsis cockroaches. Pseudo-Darwinian views promoted ideas about racial purity or mental or physical health which allowed those who lacked these qualities to be seen as "inferior stock".

One of the good moral trends of our time has been to reject this way of looking at things. Instead, we insist, in the great debate about what it means to be human, that weakness is not a disqualification, but, by a famous Christian paradox, a strength.

Abortion runs against this trend, and so civilisation will eventually reject it, as once it rejected slavery."

Wanted to share this with you all, with such sadness in my heart.

If you've been to the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. , you know the kind of horror he's talking about: walking through a railroad car once used to haul Jews to concentration camps... seeing clothes worn by people who were murdered... seeing pictures, images, relics... it is indeed, not difficult to imagine the horror of our own great-grandchildren when they consider how many lives have been lost to this "choice", the holocaust of our generation.


Terry said...

I pray that history sees abortion as the tragedy it is. I have to be honest, though, given our society's obsession with personal freedoms and the need to do "what works for me" no matter what, it would take a drastic pendulum swing for that to become a reality. Still, I long to see the day when we view our children as precious gifts from a gracious Creator rather than a burdensome inconvenience.

Queen said...

I have often likened the debate on abortion to that of the abolitionists and those who supported slavery.

Labeling the baby a "fetus" or "clump of tissue" is akin to saying a black man is only 3/5ths a person.

Fighting for the woman's "right to choose" is akin to fighting for the slave owner's "property rights."

I agree with Terry that it seems almost impossible that our country will acknowledge the wrong we are doing/have done. Maybe the abolitionists felt the same in their day.

I'm ashamed to admit that I don't feel I'm doing my part in the fight for life. If you have any links pointing to how we can be more personally involved, I would love it if you would share them.

Lindsy said...

I often wonder if abortion will someday be viewed that way as well. I hope so. The irony in the contradictions is dreadful, and speaks ominously of the deceit and wickedness of the human heart and its godless rationalizing. It is a chilling testament to human depravity, that man has not evolved morally so that he is no longer evil. We're no different than Pharaoh having the two year-olds slaughtered. And because of the wickedness of the human heart, I'm not as optimistic as the article author is about the end of all of this. May God have mercy and bring legal abortion to its end.

Jess, are you a one-issue voter (like Piper) when it comes to abortion? I mean, would you refuse to vote for anyone who is pro-abortion?

Nancy said...

This is so true. I hope one day abortion will be viewed this way.

Jess said...

I wrote about it just last month (September)... it's called "The Horror of Abortion and What We Can DO About it". It has a lot of links and ideas for how Christians can be involved in this issue. Hope this helps you find some ways to be involved!

I would have to say that for me, there is no way I could, in good conscience, make a choice that would take more babies' lives. This year, the U.S. will kill its 50 millionth baby in this genocide called abortion. It jars my heart to think that I could ever support anyone who would desire that number to grow. (Or even, tacitly spoken, which is how MOST pro-choice speak about abortion, that I could ever support anyone who would do things to "ALLOW" or "PERMIT" that number to grow.)

It breaks my heart that this is an issue of our times. Just like with slavery, because it has become such a "morality-free" issue in OUR culture, all wrapped in the language of rights and choices, it has spread around the world through American influence, and is now an ingrained part of almost every culture around the world. It ABSOLUTELY breaks my heart.

Ending it in America is not the only goal- but it is a good starting point for American Christians to undertake. And that definitely begins with the biggest "power" in government that we have in a democracy: VOTING.

Having carried six children (I lost two to miscarriage) and already having three, almost four children, I have internalized this issue of abortion. One of the hardest things for me right now is to read descriptions of abortions, or to see pictures. But I personally believe that we NEED to see how horrible it is.

NO ONE goes to one of these "museums" without spending HOURS staring at the horrible pictures of the mistreatment of slaves, or at the terrible conditions of the concentration camps.

Seeing the pictures and reading the descriptions of actual abortions, particularly while I'm pregnant, gives me a whole new level of disgust and horror that motivates me to do all I can. All that to say, WHEN I read those things and see those things, I can think of no greater issue of our time.

Immigration? Pales in comparison.

The environment? I care about it, but again, no comparison.

The war? Whether you see it as right or wrong, nowhere NEAR the amount of lives have been lost in the war as have been lost in the abortion houses. And no child has ever enlisted to join the children going into an abortion clinic.

So yes, I think for Christians, if we boil it down to one, most-important issue... it must be this one. To speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves... AND TO LIVE in such a way that children are values and desired. That's what I talk about in my article, "The Horror of Abortion and What We Can DO About it". We need to be a people who practices what we "preach".


Anonymous said...

Hey Jess...it seems like everytime I read your post, it relates to something going on in my life (at first I thought this was a little freaky...but I've realized it's just a blessing!)

I recently found out that a old friend of mine is pregnant....and she's thrilled! The confusing thing is that not three years ago, she got pregnant unexpectedly and "had it taken care of." How can you be terrified about being pregnant at one time and then the next time be so excited? Granted she is married now, and with her first pregnancy she wasn't...but that shouldn't matter. Psalm 139:13 says, "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb." God knows all of His children and I just don't see how people can "claim their right" and toss life away.

Sometimes it doesn't feel like abortion will ever be viewed as what it really is...murder. But I'm sure the people who were against slavery felt the same way in their time. Matthew 19:26 says, "With God all things are possible." So I guess we just pray and wait for God to work in people's hearts??

shannon said...

Powerful words of insight. Thank you for sharing.
My prayer is that pro-abortionists would change their concept of abortion sooner rather than later even before my great-grandchildren enter the world.

Brenda said...

I hope you are right. I can't imagine a time when people are properly horrified at abortion. And? Will history tell that there were MANY who stood opposed? Or will our descendants just think that "everyone thought it was OK back then."

Linda said...

A-M-E-N! ;)

That's all I can say!

Jess said...

Hey Britt-
Just wanted to let you know (I hope you read this)- I tried to leave several comments on your blog, and none of them work... it kept on saying that the page I was looking for could not be found.

I don't know if it's a problem on my end or your end, but I just wanted to let you know in case it's a kink that needs to be worked out.

You have a couple great posts that I'd love to link to also, but the post-links weren't working either. Again, I don't know if it's a problem on my end or yours, but just wanted you to know- you've got some interesting topics going right now. :)


Jess said...

I too have wondered if they'll just think "oh, that was the norm..." , "people didn't even think about it," etc.

I hope not. I pray that this tragic, horrible "choice" will be eliminated from all societies everywhere. And it could not be done soon enough for my liking.


Anonymous said...

Very good post, Jess. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Jess...I forwarded that info to my "webmaster hubby." He's working the kinks out now :)

Anna S said...

Jess, I often think of the link between abortion and the Holocaust. The same pattern: dehumanizing, rationalizing, then killing the weak.

You probably know that today, there's a lot of Holocaust revisionism, of people who try to deny the Holocaust entirely or claim the numbers of murdered Jews weren't acrually even close to 6 million.

In a way, I can understand it. I, too, would have preferred to think it never happened, or that it wasn't as horrible as I know it was. The horror is just too much to take.

I wonder if the same will happen when people think of abortions 200 years from now.

Shamgar said...

I have often likened the debate on abortion to that of the abolitionists and those who supported slavery.

How far do you take that? Abolitionists regularly endorsed lawless behavior to accomplish their ends, including riots, slaves murdering their masters, etc - not to mention the behavior the abolitionists themselves engaged in.

Of course, we do have that sort of thing, with some people blowing up abortion clinics. I presume you don't endorse any of this.

Labeling the baby a "fetus" or "clump of tissue" is akin to saying a black man is only 3/5ths a person.

Not really - the first is an attempt to make it more palatable to the squeamish and use the defining of terms to whitewash what is really happening. Defining those who are not free as 3/5s a person in terms of congressional seats was an attempt to balance congressional power. It was actually an effort by the north (including abolitionists) not slaveowners.

Fighting for the woman's "right to choose" is akin to fighting for the slave owner's "property rights."

No, not really. This is all just inflammatory rhetoric. Slave owners had a vested financial interest - whether you agree with slavery or not. Further, abortion is clearly an evil in Scripture, and slavery is not. Thankfully, we have seen progress towards an end to the practice in most nations - as it is not an ideal regardless. However, it is certainly not equivalent.

Shamgar said...

On the topic of single issue voting, I think we have to be careful. The problem is not so much that we are unwilling to compromise on the issue as it is that Christians are so gullible. In an effort to get what they want, they will believe a whale of a lie, as long as that lie is that a given candidate will be pro-life. It doesn't matter what his record is, and if he can win it doesn't even matter how recent that record is. (See - Mitt Romney)

All that matters is that they make noises in support of their position and they'll buy it, hook line and sinker.

Further, we have tunnel vision about how to solve this problem. We've been wrestling this for nearly 40 years now at the federal level with not one gain. Not one. We win at the state level again and again only to be shot down by the state supreme court.

As Jess noted, the ballot is our first of four "boxes" in defense of life and liberty. But where do we really have power? In washington? No, not really. We have some influence there, and if the issue is not culturally charged and politically dangerous like abortion then we can make some headway there. But when it comes to issues like abortion all we're ever going to get is pandering in terms of a national change.

If we even WANT a national change. Lets say we win - do we really think that's going to be the end of this? Do we think the pro-choice crowd is going to give up and go home? Or are they going to be motivated like never before, and seek to overturn things back the way they want, with their own constitutional amendments? How long will it take before they win? And then how many more will die? Washington is the center of power anymore, and in large part it consumes the best of people we send there - including the national right-to-life group, who are now largely useless figureheads.

No, the solution to this is a state solution. The solution is in a return to a real recognition of the role of the federal government, and of the primacy of the state, and the individual over it. The answer to this is HR300. Limit the jurisdiction of the SCOTUS. Return it to having no authority over state laws, which should have the state supreme courts as their highest oversight.

Then you can make real progress. Will there be liberal states where abortion is an ongoing battle? Yes. Yet no solution will ever completely end abortion. There will always be options for those who wish to engage in this behavior. The fight will never end - people have been doing this since well before Abraham, it's not going to stop because of any sort of law getting passed. Only the Gospel can change that.

But we can save some. Why do we keep throwing ourselves against a wall, allowing millions to die who could be saved, because we are too prideful to evaluate our own failures and learn from them.

Shamgar said...

One last thing, Jess, you said:
The war? Whether you see it as right or wrong, nowhere NEAR the amount of lives have been lost in the war as have been lost in the abortion houses. And no child has ever enlisted to join the children going into an abortion clinic.

I would caution us on this too. Children, unborn and otherwise, are being killed by this war. Life is being extinguished. I don't think this is necessarily what you are trying to say - but we need to be careful not to turn a blind eye to the death and suffering just because there's less of it here. It's not the quantity that matters. If there were fewer abortions than deaths in the war would you seriously take the reverse attitude?

twill said...


That article just breaks my heart. I am a mother of one and I'll never forget getting my 1st ultrasound at 8 weeks. He was only 2 cells with a heartbeat!! After that, even more than before, no one can ever tell me that a fetus is not a baby! I often talk about this ultrasound, because I know many people that are pro-choice, and I am hopeful this will change their selfish hearts.

LisaM said...

This article may be a little off, but knowing the thing you are interested in by what you post about, I thought you might find this article interesting as well. It's called: "Children of the Reformation: A Short & Surprising History of Protestantism & Contraception"


Jess said...

Thanks for that article link.

You pegged it~ it was indeed a VERY interesting article... quite in line with what I like to read about. It's insightful to look at the link between clergy practice and doctrinal beliefs, as well as the reactions of some Evangelicals to Roe v. Wade. I had no idea that Criswell had welcomed the decision.

Thank you for sharing that article. I may have to feature it in a show and tell sometime.