Dr Mojdeh Shirvanian, director of Elam’s Women’s Ministry, explains -
‘When Rebecca’s mother became pregnant her life fell apart. The father left her, she was thrown out of her work, and her own father in fury made plans to kill her – and so also the baby. In the midst of this she became a Christian, but still did not stop planning to have an abortion I carefully explained to her what really happens during an abortion. When Rebecca’s mother understood she was in floods of tears and kept on saying ‘Never, never will I do that’. The Lord protected her from her father and in October she gave birth to the beautiful baby Rebecca,pictured here.
From abortion clinic to baby clothes shop
‘At a seminar on abortion Taraneh, (not her real name), told me about a friend pregnant out of wedlock who had booked in for an abortion. Taraneh took some of my leaflets and pictures of the fetal models that I had and showed them to her friend. Her friend read the material and thought again. The next day she went to the clinic and talked with the abortionist who told her these pictures were false: the baby is just a lump of cells and these seminars given by religious fanatics have no basis. She replied that a doctor had given the seminar and left. That day she went back to Taraneh and asked her if they could go out to buy baby clothes
Why some Christians in Iran think abortion is OK?
There are two assumptions easily made by the casual observer about abortion and Christians in Iran. One is that as persecuted
believers, Christians would stringently oppose it; the other is that abortion is rare as it is illegal. Both assumptions are wrong.
Why would Christians think it’s not wrong?
In the West it is known that all mainstream churches are against abortion, with the largest, the Roman Catholics, loudly insisting
that human life begins at conception. So if a woman becomes a Christian in the West and then wants an abortion, she cannot really
claim she did not know this was forbidden. In Iran, this is absolutely not the case. In the last five years many Iranian Muslim women
have become Christians and wrongly assume that abortion is a legitimate option. This has been apparent as Christians from the Diaspora have met up with believers from inside the country.
There are two main reasons for this: one is the teaching of Shia Islam, the other is Iranians’ perception of the West. As Shia Muslims, Iranians have been taught the concept of ‘ensoulment’ where the fetus is not a unique human being till it is infused later with a rational soul. Based on two verses in the Qur’an which suggest development in the womb, (Sura 22:5; 23:12-14) ensoulment is accepted across the entire Muslim world; however there is no fixed agreement on the exact time of the ensoulment. In some, such as the Sunni Maliki school prevalent in North Africa, it happens after 40 days; in Shia Islam though it is after ‘about’ four months. This is why in Iran abortion has always been legal for fetuses less than four months old if the mother’s life is in danger. However after four months Ayatollah Khomeini ruled that the mother and the baby’s life had the same value, and even if nature was going to let the baby live, and the mother die, it was illegal for the abortionist to interfere. There is then no doubt in an Iranian’s mind about the status of abortion for a woman after she has been pregnant for four months. It is tantamount to murder. However before four months abortion is an option.
Ironically this option becomes even more legitimate due to most Iranians’ perception of the West. Despite all the pagan hedonism that spews out of Hollywood, there is a widespread belief in Iran that Western civilization is broadly Christian. So when an Iranian Muslim becomes a Christian, knowing that abortion is legal in the West, it is assumed that it is now also acceptable for them. When they discover that in the UK the normal legal time limit for an abortion is before 24 weeks it then appears that the ‘Christian’ West takes the same view as Islam: The fetus in its early stages is not a full human being and so can be disposed of.