The Link between Evolution and Abortion

By Wayne Jackson

Many people do not realize that there is a nexus between belief in the theory of evolution, and the horrible practice of abortion — at least in the minds of some.

A common argument popularly employed in defense of the theory of evolution — especially in years past — is the “recapitulation” principle. Technically it is known as “ontogeny [individual development] recapitulates [repeats] phylogeny [evolution of the species].” The gist of this concept is that in the growth of the human fetus, during the nine-month gestation period, the major stages of evolutionary history are repeated in miniature fashion.

The argument actually is somewhat obsolete, and that is why some evolutionists decline to employ it in today’s world of biotechnical sophistication. More than forty years ago, George G. Simpson of Harvard, in concert with his colleagues, conceded that: "It is now firmly established that ontogeny does not repeat phylogeny. . . " (Simpson, et al., p. 352, emphasis original).

Be that as it may, evolutionists are not above resurrecting this defunct argument whenever they feel it suits their purpose. A case in point several years ago involved the prominent astronomer Carl Sagan, widely known for his PBS television series, Cosmos.

In April 1990, the late Dr. Sagan, in company with his wife, Ann Druyan, produced a piece for the weekly Parade magazine. Therein the authors contended for the ethical permissibility of human abortion on the ground that the fetus, growing within a woman’s body for several months following conception, is not a human being. The conclusion drawn, therefore, was this: The killing of this tiny creature is not an act of murder.

What was the basis of this assertion? Without overtly saying so, Sagan and Druyan argued their case by subtly suggesting the concept of embryonic recapitulation.

Progressively, they described the development of the fertilized human egg in terms of “a kind of parasite” that eventually begins to look like a “segmented worm.” Further alteration reveals “gill arches” like that of a “fish or amphibian.” Supposedly “reptilian” features become apparent subsequently, which later give way to “mammalian. . . pig-like” traits. By the end of two months, the creature resembles a “primate but is still not quite human” (p. 6; emphsis added).

The argument thus employed is wholly specious, has long been discredited, yet graphically reveals the current desperation of those rationalists who disregard the sanctity of human life.

  • Sagan, Carl and Ann Druyan. 1990. “The Question of Abortion,” Parade Magazine. April 22.
  • Simpson, G. G., C. S. Pittendrigh and L. H. Tiffany. 1957. Life: An Introduction to Biology. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & Company.
Small f26f621c f6aa 4d2b 853d 24e53c812a17

About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.