We who defend the sanctity of life sometimes face questions similar to this: “Why do you say abortion is wrong, if babies go to heaven when they die?” That question often has a follow-up: “Aborted children never have a chance to grow up and reject Jesus; thus, by your own reasoning, abortion fills heaven and keeps people out of hell. Isn’t that a good thing?”
Considering abortion as mercifully sending babies to heaven is an invalid option for Christians for several reasons. First, if we believe that heaven and hell are real, then we have to believe that there is a God. And, if there’s a God, we need to care what He’s said on the subject of abortion. By that measure alone, we cannot justify killing the unborn, an action that God expressly forbids (Leviticus 20:1–5; 2 Kings 24:2–4). God commands us not to commit murder (Exodus 20:13), He knows the child before birth (Jeremiah 1:5), and, in the Mosaic Law, He prescribed punishment for killing an unborn child (Exodus 21:22–25). Abortion is never an act of mercy; it is always an act of shedding innocent blood (see Proverbs 6:16–17).
So, the first reason that we reject the idea of a mercy-motivated abortion is fairly simple: because God said not to kill. Regardless of what else we may think, God told us that killing the innocent is wrong. Period. Just as with a parent-child relationship, the only thing we ultimately need to know is that the Father has said, “No.”
The second reason that abortion cannot be justified as a merciful act is that we are not absolutely sure what happens to those who die before they are born. We have many good reasons to think they’ll be in heaven, but we don’t have explicit biblical proof. So we can’t definitively say that aborting a soul will rescue it from hell. We dare not take such an awful risk with the souls of other people.
With both of those reasons in mind, we can pose a useful statement: “God didn’t just kill Cain before he sinned.” That fact doesn’t tell us exactly why we should not abort a child for mercy’s sake, but it does tell us that God does not see killing to prevent sin as a viable option.
A third reason that we cannot justify abortion on the basis that it sends babies to heaven involves eternal rewards. An aborted child has been denied the chance to serve God in this life and gain rewards for heaven. A child killed in the womb is being denied the chance to honor God in this world and earn rewards in the world to come. The chance to serve God is one of the things abortion steals from a human being.
Logically, the attitude that abortion is merciful in that it sends babies straight to heaven would lead us to kill all children, unborn or not. After all, if it really is “better” for them to be dead, then we should do them the favor of killing them and sending them to a better place. Anyone who takes seriously the idea that babies in the womb should be killed to send them to heaven would logically have to favor the killing of every single child who is—in his opinion—under the age of accountability. Following the same rationale, he’d also be inclined to kill other believers to prevent them from sinning any more before they get to heaven.
Given that God is a God of logic, and given that He specifically tells us to protect the weak and innocent (Proverbs 31:8–9), to have children (Genesis 1:28), and to see them as a blessing (Psalm 127:4–5), we can’t justify abortion on any moral grounds whatsoever. Abortion is the murder of the unborn, and we can’t mitigate the heinous nature of the act by injecting some perverse sense of human “mercy” into the equation.
Part 1: Do the souls of aborted babies go to heaven?