Today I had the opportunity to participate in a conversation about abortion via a FB thread. The original post was by someone who made the case that a fetus does not become a person until it has the ability to become “cognizant.” The post was long and I don’t have permission to publish it or quote excerpts here. Instead, a reproduce my response. It was meant to give a secular person a counter-argument that did not appeal to the Bible or God. Tell me how you think I did:

“I read your comments and respect your perspective. I can’t help but notice, though, that you start by “solving” the crux of the issue with a firm fiat pronouncement, “… to the point that it [the fetus] achieves cognizance.”

But that is really the point of the debate, isn’t it? If you start by “solving” that, then there is no more debate. We could all go home and watch reruns of “Seinfeld” and all would be well with the world. But you will understand this because you apparently know how to lay out an argument. In order for me to be absolutely sure I will do everything I can to protect the life of the unborn, I have to suspect the pronouncements of anyone who makes an arbitrary decision about when life begins. The baby in the womb is not going to send a message saying, “Hey, as of 3 pm today, I am cognizant,” with little pink hearts swimming in the amniotic soup.

So, who makes that determination? Well, luckily for you, you made it, “Scientifically, I consider a fetus a person at the point that it can begin thinking and expressing emotion.” “Scientifically,” then, you would have to come up with an undisputed formula that proves when someone starts to think. Tall order. How do we even prove that we can think? And as far as expressing emotion, is feeling pain an emotion? When does a fetus begin to feel pain? What about babies in the womb who because of congenital diseases will not ever be able to “achieve cognizance?”

These are questions for which clear cut, definitive answers are lacking, so I must be skeptical about your judgment, other so-called experts’ judgments, and even my own judgment.

But that doesn’t mean I make no judgment and sit on my hands. In my case, I choose to err on the side of doing all I can to give that little “clump of cells,” as you called it, as much of a chance to survive on the other side, as it is humanly possible, respecting the life of the mother, of course.

I can make that argument without appealing to morality or a higher authority, as I just did here. But the argument is still rather tepid, I must admit, because it lacks the force of the divine obligation to protect human life, which I believe is implanted in all of us.”

May God give us all the humility and grace to interact with others on this and other difficult topics, without driving them away from the beautiful Messiah we love so much.


Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA