Should Abortion Be Legal, Safe, and Rare? One Christian Perspective

Here's how it works these days—unfortunately: You tell me whether you're pro-choice or pro-life, and I'll immediately know whether to treat you as a friend or a foe, a saint or a sinner. 


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11862
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Well said and I think meets the level of thinking Jesus himself applied when dealing with us.

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Thoughtful, there certainly are many issues. Probably many will offer thoughts and prayers. Those will not do anything to mollify the justifiable fear of the pain and suffering which will occur. Make no mistake this is a result of the religious right wing having imposed their beliefs on a whole society. Sad day.

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Jesus also overturned the divorce concession He made through Moses and Jesus reversed that prior ruling and didn’t allow divorce except in the case of adultery.

Jesus does allow choice, and thats exactly what this ruling does. It gives the citizens of each state the right to choose representatives who can rule as the majority decides.

Lastly, life is the most sacred thing we have. And in the vast majority of cases, abortion is simply a financial decision. Each choice carries different consequences, divorce is allowed but it doesn’t end life. Gay marriage is the same…but every single abortion ends the same way…by putting and end to a life/potential life. And in the vast majority of cases ending a life isn’t justified because you cant afford a baby. Men and women engage in consensual sex and cant just resolve an unwanted pregnancy by ending that life…both have to accept and be responsible for that baby.

The number of politically liberal Christians tying themselves into knots, using logic and arguments that doesn’t hold up in any other situation, nor would they agree with in any other situation; just to be pro-choice, is frankly hilarious.

Either people should be allowed to do anything they want because God gave us a choice, or the government should be allowed to make rules to protect it’s citizens. You can’t have it both ways, be pro-choice on abortion, but still support the government outlawing the murder of adults; when your reasoning is “God gave man choice.”

Either human life has personhood in the womb, or it does not. The Bible suggests it does. If so, then those people deserve the exact same protections from someone else ending their life, as you or I. The right to not get murdered, pretty much trumps every thing else.
The fact it’s difficult to stop murder, doesn’t make murder acceptable in any other situation, nor does it do so here.
The fact it causes hardship to some innocent individuals, even intrudes on their privacy and violates rights they might otherwise normally have, to stop murder, doesn’t mean you allow murder.
The fact that men are able to have sex without facing the same biological consequences as women is clearly unfair, doesn’t mean you allow murder.
The fact that some people view those being murdered as less than human, not counting as a person, doesn’t mean you allow murder.

If you believe the Bible says fetus = person; then that person deserves all of the rights of any other person.

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I appreciate the analysis in the article, and the nuanced stance. I also appreciate the references to Genesis that are clearly both pro-life and pro-choice. There are additional layers to the Genesis story that also bear upon this issue, one of those being what it means to be created in the image of God, in the sense that we get to participate in the creation of life in a way that reflects in some way the experience of the Creator. We do not create simply out of instinct, or because all potential life must be realized, but rather because we choose to do so as an expression of love. That does not necessarily mean that all expression of love results in the creation of new life, but rather that all new life is designed to be experienced in that context. Choice is central to creation. God chooses to create out of love when God creates, we are invited to participate in that as beings that reflect God’s image. But that does not mean that all potential or possible life that could exist should or must exist. Nor is it killing or murder if someone who could create life decides not to do so, even though a potential life that otherwise could exist will not because of that choice, is it? Not all life that could happen has to happen in order for all life that does happen to be celebrated and valued. What an amazing thing it is though when someone, in the appropriate context, as an expression of love, does bring such a life into the world by choice (or even in some cases by a happy surprise!) So, it would seem, that central to the idea of “creating” in a way that reflects the Creator, is the ability to choose to create, or not create new life, rather than simply doing what has to be done or must be done. The question is, at what point in time in the process, and perhaps under what circumstances, is interrupting the process that could lead to “life” appropriate (when does “life” begin, and what do we mean by that)? And of course additional questions would include what factors should be taken into consideration when making decisions about this, as well as who is the most appropriate person to make them. And, as the author points out, there is no clear religious consensus as to where the point is. Some might argue that contraception should not be allowed because of the “potential” for life, while others would not see more than potential life until later in the developmental process. If a pregnancy results from an act of violence and a child is born, should that life be protected? Of course. If there is an opportunity to prevent or stop either the act of violence or the pregnancy from continuing from such an act, would that be something people should have options about? Who gets to decide, and at what point? However one answers those questions, or wrestles with those issues, they are far more difficult and complex than the way they are often portrayed (and we are barely scratching the surface here). How we address those issues should reflect that realization.

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I appreciate your post.

My thoughts regarding abortion come from two main threads, both informed by my parents and relatives, some M.D.'s and some with a long history working in public health.

First, decisions regarding abortion at a case level should be driven by facts known to medical and psychological science, on a case-by-case basis, decided by a woman (who notably may be a minor) with the help of these professionals. The decision is often hard and should be hard to make. The range of issues surrounding these decisions is difficult to impossible for people who are not trained and who have not worked in this area to understand.

Second, laws regulating abortion should also be based on facts known to medical and psychological science. Each person may have beliefs about what is right, perhaps driven by their religious convictions. But personal beliefs vary and are informed by many things. No person’s opinion, no matter how strongly held, should guide public policy.

Third, public policy in general and laws regulating abortion (and many other medical and psychological standards of care) should be implemented based on what is best for our society at large. For example, public health departments (when working at their best) spend a considerable amount of time building trust and working with ‘Johns’ and prostitutes - not to ‘correct’ their behavior - but to chase down and stamp out venereal disease. They do this because it is a good public health practice. Venereal disease can kill and maim people.

Similarly, public policy regarding abortion should be driven by data and what it tells us is best for society - not by personal belief. We should ask, what happens in a society when safe and accessible abortion services are not available? We know the answer. We have the data. The answer is that women continue to get abortions, often in desperation, and for poor women especially it is often under conditions that are unsafe, and so it more often results in death or significant and sometimes permanent injury - such as accidental sterilization.

Last, consider that - however backwards we may think it - the bible consistently teaches that life begins at the first breath and ends at the last. It also teaches that the living person, the breathing person, has more value than the unborn.

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The Bible issues prohibition against murder. This is decidedly pro life…not pro choice. It’s black and white. But, even what qualifies as murder can then be debated. There are shades of grey.

The problem with applying black and white thinking to abortion is in the very debatable nature of when viable human life begins. Some posters here referred to the Bible to settle the issue. It doesn’t. They have argued their black and white thinking, not what the Bible definitively says. The determination of when viable human life begins in vitro is a very grey area. It is why it has been and continues to be debated by not only medical experts and ethicists, but by those of faith…those involved with the Bible and with interpreting and applying it to real life.

Pro life has so many more factors surrounding it than a black and white determination of when a fetus becomes a viable human life. It has to do with the circumstances under which conception happened, it has to do with the health of the mother, it has to do with the prospects of life beyond the womb…all things this article has grappled with, and the black and white thinkers on this thread ignore in favor of their facile pronouncements and blanket condemnations.

A sweeping criminalization of abortion under any circumstances solves nothing, and creates many more problems than what exists now. Black and white thinking, and law making won’t solve what is in reality grey…many shades of it. What is a multi faceted and nuanced moral, social, and indeed personal issue.

The early Christians in the empire never demonstrated or lobbied the Roman senate to outlaw infanticide, the practice of exposing unwanted babies to the elements in order to get rid of them. This is much more of a straightforward atrocity than what we are dealing with. The Christian response then was that they began to rescue those children, and raise them as their own. They won the grudging admiration of the populace. Attitudes began to change by seeing love in action.

What are the condemning voices on this thread and in the wider Christian world doing for those they condemn, and who often are faced with difficult and unspeakable choices when it comes to abortion? Lobbying for laws without reaching out in love and having compassion for the realities that many women face does nothing! And, it will ultimately change nothing for the good, and for the kingdom of God.

Frank

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“And particularly so if she feels certain that the embryo/fetus will go to heaven—whether immediately or at the resurrection—completely bypassing the pain and suffering experienced by so many in this world.”

Thank-you, Jim for making this point. I’ve heard that many evangelical Christians adopt the Roman Catholic view that a baby must be baptized in order to be saved. Adventists believe that everyone will be resurrected eventually. Thus, those innocent babies will be in heaven, not forever damned. That should give all of us hope, whatever our thoughts about abortion.

“Men and women engage in consensual sex and cant just resolve an unwanted pregnancy by ending that life.”

Yohito, if all sex were consensual, I might agree with your point. But sex isn’t always consensual. And only God, the mother/parents, and a responsible physician know the whole story and the rationale for an abortion.

Having grown up before Roe v. Wade and suffering emotional and sexual abuse, I agree that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. Many so-called Christians seem to think it’s ok to legalize any type of firearm, but that government has the right to govern a woman’s choices about her own body. I have trouble with that logic.

Should abortion be the last, carefully considered choice. Yes. But to criminalize it, especially in the ways some states want to, endangers women’s health and that of the child. I suffered a miscarriage once with long-term mental health effects on myself and my family; in some states I could be prosecuted for something I had no control over. That’s just wrong.

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Very well nuanced article on a very painful and hotly debated issue. I have for years held a pro-life/pro-choice stance in light of The Fall. There is no contradiction here as the author has well expressed. Our biggest problem is failing to humanize the incredibly horrible decisions made surrounding abortion in light of a equally pro-life/pro-choice God and the fallen condition. Most abortions are not of people going out having sex and if they get pregnant seeking termination of that pregnancy. Most are involving terrible choices over a mother’s life, well-being, or fetuses’ viability due to gross anomalies in development that render their lives either dead at birth, or a painful death sometime after. Or rape or incest. The abortion and teen pregnancy rate have plummeted over the last decade mostly due to women with choices in the reproductive lives, including contraceptives. We are also a generation or two out from those women pre-Roe who had to endure in a world where contraceptives and abortions were illegal.

The troubling aspect of this decsion lies in Justice Thomas’ concurrent opinion in which he expressly states other individual rights found in the 14th amendment need to be addressed, such as contraceptives, etc. This recent decision is going to have far reaching and deeply negative impacts on our nation going forward.

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I believe in CHOICE! If people would make the CHOICE to not have sex unless they want the responsibility of a child, all would be well. CHOOSING to KILL an INNOCENT CHILD because you made the wrong CHOICE is the ULTIMATE of SELFISHNESS.

And please don’t bring up the cases of the young girls in 3rd World Countries who are forced to have Babies. Our laws here in America are not for those Countries…so bringing those issues up only serves to TRY to MUDDY THE WATERS and make SIN LOOK ACCEPTABLE.

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The irony is you do not see that your statement is contradictory.

How is it that you celebrate willful ignorance of biology and now so strongly advocate using the state to enforce political ideology under the guise of religious piety.

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Not everyone chooses to have sex. You have no idea of the emotional abuse involved in incest and rape.

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I think we’re all missing the point. This decision is not about the morality of “choice” - that is an individual and personal decision. This is about the CONSTITUTIONALITY of Roe … . The point is- "is abortion a right written into the Constitution? And the answer is - “NO”. The constitution does not mention abortion, or imply it, therefore it can’t be simply manufactured by the court.

The formers of the US government created 3 parts to the Federal government - CONGRESS - makes the laws; EXECUTIVE - enforces the laws; SUPREME COURT- interprets the laws. All that the Supreme court did was say the right of abortion is not in the Constitution - it’s a STATE ISSUE. Abortion was not outlawed - just kicked to the state legislature. Now, go and vote.

It had been a bad decision because by declaring abortion a right, the Supreme Court was creating a law. That is not its job- that job belongs to Congress. This decision simply rectified that decision.

… and I’m just a naturalized citizen. In fact, I remember helping my parents study for the citizenship exam when they took their oath, and this was a major part. They didn’t make me take it because I had been attending US schools.

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No, it doesn’t. For people who believe that a fetus has personhood, none of the other factors matter. Every single argument you make becomes irrelevant, if the fetus does in fact have personhood. Yes, if you are right, and the fetus does not count as a person, then this becomes a very complex issue. But if you are wrong, and a fetus does; then you are allowing the murder of tens of millions.

You, and many people, view the question of when a fetus has personhood as a grey area. Of course, many people viewed the question as to whether or not black people had personhood as a grey area as well, for the first hundred years of this country. Many Christians refused to take a stand, suggested we just love everyone, and participated in moral gymnastics to avoid condemning evil then too. Probably called it a nuanced moral, social, and personal issue. They participated in the exact logical fallacy you are now. Argument to moderation, or the golden mean fallacy. But just like then, there is one simple question that if the answer is yes, the entire issue becomes extremely simple. Do black people have personhood? Does a fetus have personhood? If yes, then they deserve equal rights to everyone else in the country. No grey area.

If you want to argue in favor of pro-choice, there is only one relevant argument you can make. And that is why a fetus doesn’t count as a person. Everything else you are saying is irrelevant to people who believe it does.

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Yes, the Constitution says nothing for or against abortion. The SCOTUS in 1972 was basing it on the expansion of rights in the amendments, thus establishing it as federal law through the case. By now striking it down through claiming no constitutional support, they are throwing the decision making back to individual states, not Congress. They are also setting possibly dangerous precedent concerning other reproductive rights, and treatment of same sex couples, as seen by Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion.

Frank

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The Court in Roe did not create a law as it commonly stated among those who oppose abortion. That is an error in my opinion as to what the Court did. SCOTUS in Roe found a right in the Constitution through the 14th amendment due process clause. It annulled laws that hindered the exercise of the right. There are 27 amendments to the Constitution that most often expand rights (only one curtailed rights in prohibition, but it was overturned as you know). Thus, Roe was correctly decided. But now that the right has been annulled by an originalist viewpoint, individual rights found in the 14th amendment and adjudicated in the past, are in jeopardy due to this ruling, including religious liberty rights that were upheld using the same “due process” of the 14th amendment that Roe utilized for right to privacy (Cantwell, for example). This latest decision has sent decades of jurisprudence backwards in a wide-range of decisions made in the past. It’s going to get legally ugly here on out.

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A sentient black adult cannot be compared to a small mass of cells after conception. Even Chief Justice Roberts, no pro life opponent, said that shortly after conception can’t even be compared to after fifteen weeks in vitro.

This is exactly the problem with such thinking. It’s black and white, when the biological and ethical reality simply is not. It also takes no account of other mitigating circumstances…rape, incest, threat of mothers life don’t matter?

Please!

Frank

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What exactly, in the 14th amendment, (due process clause) gives right to abortion? I’m not clear on that.

I am PRO–The Woman’s life.

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