There is a dilemma when considering the fate of the souls of aborted babies. This question extends its importance because babies also die in child birth, children die or are killed at a young age, and some people never become intellectually more than a child because of some special needs. The natural inclination is to assume God simply takes them to Heaven.
Christians are particularly perplexed, though, because of John 14:6; “Jesus told him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Added to that, Jesus is unique as described in Acts 4:12; “…, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by and in which we must be saved.”
According to 1 Kings 8:43, Matt 6:9, and Heb 9:24 (to list only a few) God lives in Heaven. He is all-just (Deuteronomy 12:4), He is good (Luke 18:19), and He is love (1 John 4:8). The hurdle becomes, then, how can God be fair and loving, but only allow those who accept Jesus and rely on His name to enter into Heaven? Of course, this is out of God’s character and totally unfair to the souls of aborted babies and all of the others who never had a chance to accept Jesus?
The question is actually broader, for if Jesus is the only way to Heaven, what about all the people who lived before Jesus and never had a chance to know Him. For that matter, what about all those who lived after Him, but never were told they needed to accept Jesus before they died? Well, God (as always) provides a way.
Before understanding God’s solution, I want to dispel one common misconception that is prevalent among many Christians. I suspect, in an attempt to defend God, the idea was developed and promulgated for many years that when it comes to children, there is an age of accountability. The theory goes that unless a person had reached an age where they could make an informed decision (or even able to make a decision), God would just “fairly” let them enter Heaven.
Of course, this theory cannot be found in the Bible because it is not God’s plan. Furthermore, it does not provide for how people who never knew they had to accept Jesus could ever get to Heaven. So, what has God done?
The answer starts with understanding what Hades (Sheol) is. God created Hades as a place to collect the souls of people when their bodies die. He did that after the “original” sin because He knew people’s bodies would die as a result of sin (Gen 3:3). It is first referenced in Gen 37:35. It is the lodging place of souls who have died (Ps 88:3). It stays in existence until the White Throne Judgment just before God creates a new earth (Rev 20:14). So, through all of recorded time after sin entered the world, Hades exists to collect the souls of people who did not have a chance to make a decision for Jesus as the only way to Heaven.
Furthermore, Hades has two parts (Luke 16: 22-23). “Torments” is where the “Rich Man” spoke across the impassable abyss to Abraham (who did not know about Jesus, so he was placed in the good part of Hades). That division is called “Paradise” or the third heaven (2 Cor 12:2, 3). God places people in Hades in Torments or in Paradise however He wants. The question remains … how do they get to Heaven to be with God?
In Luke 23:43, we are told Jesus went to Paradise when His body died. He did not ascend to Heaven until after His body was resurrected (John 20:17). What did He do in Paradise? He preached to those souls collected there and many believed so that He lead them to Heaven (Eph 4:8-10) and (I Peter 3: 18-22). They legitimately were allowed to go into Heaven through His name.
Although, the Bible doesn’t explicitly address the souls of aborted babies, young children, or special needs people, it does provide a route for people who did not have a chance before dying to accept Christ’s gift to enter Heaven. Because of the path provided for them, it is easy to believe the souls of children are placed into Paradise. Once there, in order to be able to understand Jesus’ message, they are given enough knowledge (i.e., age/maturity) to be able to understand Jesus’ gift, accept it when He preached in Hades, and be allowed to be with Him in Heaven. This satisfies the stated requirement that Jesus is the only way to the Father and validates God as loving, fair, and just.