The question from a TV interviewer veered off-script and bolted at me from the blue: “Why do you think the Russians are committing atrocities in the Ukraine? “Abortion,” I answered so quickly it surprised even me.
The mindless massacre of the innocent during the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been stunning. It seems that in the eyes of the killers, human life has no intrinsic value, whether a babushka — a grandmother — struggling to flee, or a child clinging to its parents as they run through fiery streets in search of shelter.
What kind of people commit mindless massacre? What sort of culture produced them?
The United States is not guiltless. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade legitimized abortion at a new level. Human beings objectified one another, often resulting in the devaluation of life to mere utility and convenience.
When a nation’s highest court sanctions a belief or behavior, it has spoken for the nation itself. In 1973, the Supreme Court stated, in the language of its ruling in Roe: “We need not resolve the puzzling question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”
Thus, in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court was ambivalent about human life, and in 2022 a new Supreme Court appointee — a woman — was unable to say what a female is. Ironically, popular culture and its ardent supporters applauded her response while rejoicing that the new judge was a woman.
They could define what she could not. But ambiguity about life and being is worse than that. Confusion about essential identity leads to a society that cannot figure out who God is as well as who a human is and leads to a deadly ambiguity.
Uncertainty regarding gender is a matter of concern, but uncertainty about whether the being in the womb is a living human being and protected by the foundational right to life specified in the U.S. Declaration of Independence is a life and death matter.
One of the outcomes is the objectification of the person. Seeing human beings as objects of satisfaction and then obstacles blocking one’s ambitions are characteristics of the abortion culture that has affected Russia and so many nations.
When life is devalued in the privacy of the womb, why should we be surprised when it is devalued in a nation’s public places?
Lenin and his fellow Marxists unleashed the abortion monster on Russia when they took over the country through the 1917 revolution. Abortion there grew to the extent that in some historic eras Russia has been the world leader in the number of aborted pregnancies.
During one period, 57% of pregnancies in Russia were aborted. It seemed the number of abortions would outstrip the birth rate.
Even Vladimir Putin was concerned enough to call for a reduction in abortions. A government policy there now aims to cut abortions in half by 2025 to deal with the demographic crisis.
While that goal is applauded by many, it exposes a problem: The push to slow abortion in Russia is based on pragmatics (the goal to solve the demographic problem). Unbounded abortion will not end until people are convicted in their hearts that policies sanctioning it constitute sin. But without the sense of God’s transcendence, the concept of sin is lost as well. All that is left is political correctness, enforced by self-righteous establishment elites whose legalisms are as restrictive as the religions they hate.
Russia isn’t alone. Ukraine also showed up on lists of nations with the most abortions. Dr. Brian Clowes, in a 2017 Human Life International report, wrote that “every one of Europe’s 48 nations is currently under replacement fertility levels ... Nine European nations have remained continuously below replacement since 1965.”
Atrocity is an atrocity, whether in the battle-torn streets of a city under siege by a military aggressor, or a nation under siege by a worldview that struggles to define the very humanity of a child in the womb as well as identifying gender once outside the womb.
This is indeed deadly ambiguity.
The objectification of the human being is not the only characteristic of the abortion culture. Another is the loss of the secularized individual human spirit and the soul of the society of the belief in and sense of God’s transcendence and the human accountability that goes with it.
When men and women no longer revere God, they lose reverence and respect for the life He has created in the womb as well as the lives of innocents rushing to shelters amidst a fiery war.
The tragedies in Ukraine should appall us all, but not surprise us at all.
Wallace Henley is a former White House and Congressional aide. He is now a teaching pastor at Grace Church, The Woodlands, Texas. Wallace is author of more than 20 books, including God and Churchill, and his newest, Who Will Rule the Coming 'gods: The Looming Spiritual Crisis of Artificial Intelligence.