AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY AND ABORTION

I am going to attempt to write my thoughts regarding the pro life/pro choice debate. If you are not of the mind to hear me out, please stop reading now, but make no assumptions because you did not take the time to hear and understand.

I am a Christian and have been for more than 42 years. Not that long ago, I held to a very dogmatic view regardig abortion. At one point I was so fire breathing in my opinion regarding women with life threatening pregnancies, that I stated “no woman who isn’t willing to give her life for her child is worth her salt.”

I am now ashamed of this attitude – very ashamed.

Am I still pro -life? Yes, I would certainly say I am, but I have come to an understanding that my once harsh, fire breathing, hellfire and brimstone opinion, was mostly grounded in ignorance rather than truth and good understanding. My convictions were genuine, my passion was sincere, but I was misguided in my understanding, and the worst thing about that is I was teaching others to think like me.

God forgive me.

I am familiar with the scriptures commonly cited to support the pro-life position. I actually know other scriptures that most pro-lifers have never even considered that would be useful in their arsenal of texts to condemn their opponents. I do not say this arrogantly, but the truth is, I can make a better argument using scripture for the pro life position, than most pro lifers I have ever met. 

Like most pro lifers, the basis of my entire position was that abortion is murder. And without considering all the complexities involved, I chose to condemn as a baby killer anyone who was pro choice. This was a tremendous fallacy on my part because, quite frankly, I was ignorant.

Arguing that life begins at conception was the only thing in my playbook. I did not understand that there are some pregnancies in which the birth of the child is not a viable option such as in the case of an ectopic pregnancy which can become life threatening to the mother overnight. I had no clue that such pregnancies even existed.

In an ectopic pregnancy the fertilized egg is implanted outside of the uterus, typically in a fallopian tube. The embryo/ fetus continues to grow, however, a miscarriage is inevitable. In some cases an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother because of internal bleeding. An ectopic pregnancy can become life threatening quickly, requiring emergency surgery to save the mother.

The treatment for a life threatening ectopic pregnancy is abortion, the treatment for a septic uterus (when the water breaks too early in pregnancy) is abortion, the treatment for a miscarriage that the mother’s body won’t release is abortion, and if a person can’t get the treatment for these, they will die.

As a servant of Jesus Christ what does my faith direct me to do? Do I pound the “it’s murder” drum? Or do I have compassion and understanding knowing that an abortion is sometimes a necessary procedure is such cases? If I am pro LIFE, wouldn’t saving the life of the mother have as much value to me as saving the life of the unborn child?

If we as Christians are going to minister the sweet fragrance of Christ to others, we have to get beyond our war cry that “life begins at conception.”  It’s time to move forward and mature in our understanding, and open our eyes and see the real people for whom Jesus died,

You cannot make disciples of those you dehumanize.

The issue is much bigger than simply when life begins. Ectopic pregnancies, a septic uterus, and some miscarriages as mentioned above are examples of the many complexities not understood by many fire breathing Christians who want to enforce their morality on everyone else. 

We are living in a climate in which the established church in America is no longer respected as a sacred entity, or a people of hope and love, but rather as a right wing political arm waging “holy wars” against hurting people who don’t think like them.

While I am still of the opinion that some abortions are indeed heartless and outright wrong, and many pro choice advocate feel the same way, I don’t think it’s so cut and dry in every case, in fact, I know it isn’t. It’s simply not a black and white issue with no gray areas. There are gray areas with many nuances that need to be understood, considered, and thought through. And of all people, Christians ought to be the most understanding and willing to listen. Unfortunately, too often this is not the case.

So here is where I stand at the time of this writing?

I am pro-life with regards to my faith, and I support a woman’s right to choose with regards to our laws, I take this position because legislating abortion so as to make it murder under the law as some states are doing creates a whole new set of problems. At some point, christian ethics must be stronger than our dogma!

If abortion is considered murder under any state’s law, you then have a scenario where any girl or woman who has a miscarriage could potentially be charged with manslaughter. If abortion is deemed to be murder, then miscarriages could result in similar charges. In fact there is the possibility that some states may even pass legislation forbidding women from traveling out of state to have an abortion.

The American Church has helped create this dilemma. In reality, it spearheaded it.

Consider that throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s there were an estimated 200,000 – 1.2 million illegal abortions which were performed annually in the United States. Hundreds of women died every year from botched procedures. This is concerning when we consider that the current population in the United States is nor more than double of that of 1950. In fact, more people voted in the 2020 election than the entire U.S. population in 1950.

The sad reality is that the overturning of Roe does not mean the end of abortions in the United States. It simply means there will be far more unsafe abortions with a portion of them ending in fatality.

Consider that fifteen to twenty percent of all pregnancies (or approximately 1 million a year in the U.S.) will end in a miscarriage or stillbirth. In this time of crisis from millions of women in our country, in which they feel abandoned and dehumanized, they will not be turning to the church for help because the church has rejected them as baby killers.

If only we had been people with a heart of compassion for the lost…

Legislating abortion as murder and forcing women to carry their pregnancy to term is going to create an health crisis in our country because women needing medical care due to circumstances surrounding miscarriages may not be able to get the help they need, especially poor women. We have created a whole new set of problems. There is no way that you can achieve justice if you legislate that abortion is murder. It will only lead to oppressing women and more deaths. 

In Michigan, there is an abotrion law that dates back to 1931 that has never come off the books. This law could soon be enforceable again. At the time of my writing this, the Supreme Court of Michigan has issued an injunction at the governor’s request. However, if this law is not changed,
almost all abortions in Michigan would become a felony, carrying a penalty of up to 4 years, even in the cases of rape and incest.

While a Christian may have the conviction that pregnancy resulting from rape is not an excusable reason to have an abortion, we need to ask the question is it ethically right to force our morality on a victims of rape and incest? The sad truth is, the American church has at times mischaracterized those in the medical field who perform abortions as only evil and wicked people, and there is absolutely nothing godly about such mischaracterization. Bearing false witness is a sin we should seek to keep far from us.

The very gospel we claim to believe teaches us that Jesus bore our pains when he suffered on the cross, why can’t we follow his example and do the same. Hurting, devastated, abused people, and those attempting to help them don’t need our sanctimonious attitudes. They need our compassion.

Why not be people who advocate for women receiving the help and support they need, along with ensuring the child would have an opportunity of being born into a world where he or she would be welcomed by a loving family.

The sad truth is many evangelicals who are zealous about this issue, are zealous because they think overturning Roe v. Wade is going to save the United States of America from God’s judgment. It’s really not about saving “life” as the child is quickly forgotten after birth.

The reason I no longer hold to my previous harsh pro life dogma is the pro life agenda on many fronts has never truly been about the actual life of babies. If it were, plans would be in place to ensure pregnant women have the help and support they need, both during their pregnancy and after they give birth.  There would be plans in place for a good quality of life for the child after the birth rather than laws to punish and oppress women. Healthcare, child support, and child care are all important issues that have been swept under the political rug because they require we actually do something. It’s easy to stand fervently on one side of a position when it requires nothing of you.

The abortion issue is much more complex than the war cry, ”abortion is murder!” It’s really not that simple, It is complex because of rape, incest, and other life and death issues. For example the Michigan AG, Dana Nessel, shared own experience regarding an abortion she had many years ago.

Speaking to reporters, Nessel also discussed the abortion she’d had years ago — one that would be illegal in the state if Roe falls. She was pregnant with triplets and doctors told her the embryos weren’t growing in utero, she said. “And I was told very, very specifically that there was no way that all three would make it to term…But if I aborted one, that it was possible that the other two might live. …I took my doctor’s advice… And you know what? It turned out that he was right. And now I have two beautiful sons.” (Source, NPR)

It is circumstances like these that need to be thought through and understood with compassion. Yes, Christian ethics is a real thing!

We need an understanding heart, and a willingness to consider the complexities of this matter, rather than being indoctrinated with the idea that anyone who holds a different view than us is somehow a baby-killer. The reality is that the number of abortions in the United States has been on a steady decline for many years, large in part to the fact that women had access to the health care they needed and the ability to manage pregnancies was in the hands of doctors who knew what they were doing rather than power hungry politicians and American politicized Christians who were more indoctrinated than educated.

Possibly the worst thing the American church has done on this issue is characterize everyone involved in abortions as wicked and evil and sinful. Yet, that is FAR from the truth, there are many women who have had to have abortions for medical reasons, who were shamed rather than loved. Many of them no doubt wanted their child, but it wasn’t possible. It doesn’t take much of spirituality to stand outside an abortion clinic with a bull horn and shame others, but it takes a whole lot of Jesus to open your heart and show compassion and understanding, especially when your doing so against the grain of the establishment.

Rather than thinking the judgment of God is coming on America for all the aborted babies, just maybe we should open our eyes and see the judgment of God in the church because of the aborted children of God who we turned away from the faith with our hateful rhetoric.

The church did not win when the SCOTUS overturned Roe, rather it took on a whole new set of problems that I don’t think the American church is prepared for.

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