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11th-12th Grade Honorable Mention: Noel Vanderbilt

Honorable Mention: Noel Vanderbilt
He Will Be Called

Two thousand years ago, Mary, a young teenager betrothed to a righteous man, received a startling visit that changed history forever. An angel appeared to this Jewish girl from Nazareth, telling her that she had found favor with God and would soon be with child. Incredulous, Mary asked, “‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God,’” (New International Version, Luke 1:34-35). It’s astonishing that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords would choose to send his Son, the Redeemer of mankind, into the world not as a mighty warrior or a revolutionary, but as a preborn child—vulnerable and voiceless. It powerfully speaks to the inherent value that God places on human life, regardless of the stage of development.

Later in the scriptures, Mary, pregnant with her child, traveled to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Upon Mary’s arrival, Elizabeth knew immediately that her cousin was carrying the Son of God. The scriptures say that Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, exclaimed, “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy,” (New International Version, Luke 1:44). Scriptures like this unmistakably point to God’s perspective on the preborn child. From the moment of conception, the preborn child is a human being, created in the image of God, for a purpose, with a right to life. As Christians, we are called to speak up and defend the lives of the preborn.

Scripture affirms that the preborn child is a human. Passages like the scenarios previously referenced in Luke demonstrate the humanness of the preborn child. Psalm 139:13-14 also supports this understanding of life at conception, writing, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful I know that full well,” (New International Version). The Creator of the universe, who hung the stars in the velvety heavens, and carved the snow-capped mountains by His might, who commands the raging sea, and rules the heavenly hosts, comes in the calm and the still and knits life together in the mother’s womb. Life is vulnerable and voiceless, but life is immeasurably valued as His precious child.

Science affirms this biblical perspective of life at conception. Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania, stated, “I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception . . . any interruption at any point constitutes a termination of human life” (Alcorn). From the moment of fertilization, the zygote contains all the necessary DNA for life. By the time the mother discovers that she’s with child, her preborn baby has a beating heart. The difference between the child in the womb and the child swaddled in his mother’s arms is simply the amount of development. When we start claiming that the preborn child is not a human being until the second or third trimester, or until they have entered the world, when they are “developed,” we start to walk a fine and dangerous line. Toddlers are not fully developed; they are just beginning to learn cognitive and communicative skills. Neither are adolescents entering puberty—a huge developmental milestone. Neither are college freshman whose brains will continue to develop into their mid-20s. In fact, research has shown that development continues in various forms throughout a lifetime! Those who argue that the preborn child “isn’t a human” are not acknowledging scientific facts that demonstrate the child has all the DNA necessary for life from the moment of conception. If we claim that a human being does not have value until development is complete, who of us has any value? At every stage of development, the preborn child is a human being, no exceptions.

A trend in our culture is to classify the value of the preborn based on their genetic makeup. I’ve experienced this with my little brother, Joshua. His blue eyes twinkle with laughter, his smile is wide and sweet, his heart overflows with love and forgiveness. Yet around the world, attempts are being made, and have been made, to end lives like his through abortion. Why? Because my brother has Down syndrome. Advances in prenatal testing have allowed parents to determine whether or not their preborn child has genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome, that they argue “justify” an abortion. Studies have shown that prenatal testing has dramatically increased the termination rate of Down syndrome pregnancies (Wakeman). In the UK, 90 percent of preborn children who are discovered to have Down syndrome are aborted, while in Iceland, that number is nearly 100 percent (Wakeman). When I think of my brother and of his beautiful, abundant life, my heart breaks at this injustice. When we begin to devalue human life and justify abortion based on disabilities, we are embracing the science of eugenics, which is the elimination of “less desirable traits” in the aim to preserve “more desirable traits.” Regardless of genetic makeup, every preborn child has value and dignity, created in the image of God.

My brother has taught me that every life has dignity and deserves protection. As a Christian, I have been called to speak for the voiceless and the marginalized. Proverbs 31:8-9 declares, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice,” (New Living Translation). God calls His people to advocate for justice by defending the rights of the voiceless. The vulnerability and lack of justice for preborn children, who are often literally being crushed in the womb, is indisputable.

When the angel appeared to Mary, he told her about her preborn child, saying, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end,” (New International Version, Luke 1:31-34). Even before the Child was born, His life had purpose, value, and dignity. Before birth, He was even given a name: Jesus. Science and scripture confirm that the preborn child is a human being from the moment of conception, woven together and loved by God—regardless of the stage of development or genetic makeup—who deserves justice, protection, and life.

Works Cited

Alcorn, Randy C. Why Pro-Life? Caring for the Preborn and Their Mothers. Revised and Updated ed. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2012. Print.

New International Version. Bible Gateway, Accessed 17 Nov. 2019.

New Living Translation. Bible Gateway, Accessed 17 Nov. 2019.

Wakeman, Jessica. “The Debate Over Terminating Down Syndrome Pregnancies.” Healthline, 29 Aug. 2017,