Some will say that’s an oxymoron, and I’m sure I’ll hear from those people, but it’s not in my eyes.
I’m not an evangelical and I don’t go to any specific church, but I believe and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ so I consider myself a Christian, although I have been told plenty of times I am not.
Anyone could tell anyone that they aren’t what they say they are. To be a Christian means to believe in Christ. So, I am a Christian, just like those who (I believe) misinterpret his message are technically Christians.
We are all going to interpret the Bible differently. We’re all hypocrites and we’re all going to pick and choose which verses we like or that can fit our preconceived notions. The thing is, though, that Jesus wasn’t very ambiguous in his message. He spoke of kindness, forgiveness, humility and love. How I interpret that may be different than others, but in times of confusion I will always err on the side of kindness, forgiveness, humility and love.
So what does this have to do with abortion? Not much, it’s just a primer on what I believe.
Christianity & Abortion
If you talk to evangelicals today you might think that Christianity has been anti-choice since its inception, but that’s not the case. Abortion hasn’t always been the hot button topic among Christians like it is today. In fact, before Roe v Wade, most Christians didn’t have very strong opinions on the matter.
It wasn’t until the late ’70s that this started to change, and that’s all thanks to people like Jerry Falwell and his ‘Moral Majority’. They saw that Republicans were losing seats all across the country and needed something that they could use to mobilize more in their base. It worked, because as the years went on more and more Christians started falling into line and we are now on the path of regression.
What Does The Bible Say?
It doesn’t matter.
Using the Bible to make an argument for or against something that affects the whole of the country is wrong. Just like using any other religious text to do so would be wrong. I do not want someone to make laws based on a religion I don’t follow, so I don’t want laws to be made based on my religion, which other people do not follow.
Imagine, for a moment, that we started electing more non-Christians and they decided that they would start making laws — that affect everyone, including Christians— based solely on their religious views. The entire country would be up in arms. So why is it okay for us to do it?
“But this is a Christian nation!” They yell. No it’s not. It’s a secular nation with a majority of Christians. That does not mean that we can govern based on religious beliefs. I shouldn’t have to post this, but I’m going to:
The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another (emphasis mine). It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.
So, in my mind this falls under the whole “Do unto others…” idea. If I don’t want laws made based on other religions, I shouldn’t want laws based on my own.
Now let’s talk about the difference between paper and real life. A lot of things look great on paper, but when translated to real life they fall short. This is one of those issues.
Pro-choice people don’t like abortions. We don’t jump for joy at the thought of them. We just understand that they are sometimes an unfortunate part of life and that, unless we are undergoing them, they aren’t any of our business.
One of the questions I hear the most is: What if your mom aborted you? Well, I wouldn’t know any different, would I? Do you remember your birth? Do you remember being an infant? No, so you definitely don’t remember being in the womb.
If my mom aborted me I wouldn’t be here writing this, but I also wouldn’t be hurting, either. Because I would have never existed outside of her body. So, this is a terrible argument.
Another issue pro-birth people have is that the baby has a heartbeat, therefore it is an individual. If you took a fetus out of the body of the mother right when you detect a heart beat, it wouldn’t survive on its own. In fact, it wouldn’t even have a fully developed face.
Then there is the argument of whether or not abortion is humane. So, let’s talk a little bit about what is and isn’t humane.
What is humane is stopping suffering before it starts. What isn’t humane is forcing a child into an awful situation because of your personal opinion.
In the United States in 2017 there were over 4 million reports of child mistreatment or abuse, with over 600,000 confirmed cases. Of those, the younger the child, the more vulnerable they were to abuse. 71% of the children who died due to abuse or neglect were under three years old.
When an unwanted child is forced to be born, their options are slim. They can either stay with their parents (who are more likely to abuse them), or be put under the care of the state, where they will often be separated from their siblings and put into foster care. If they’re lucky they will spend only a few years in the state’s care before being adopted. But that’s if they are healthy and cute; God forbid they have a disability.
People who have unwanted children and keep them generally do so for reasons that are not noble. Either they have been forced to carry the child to term because of other people’s opinions (like laws that lessen the amount of abortion providers in a state), or they have them because they can get benefits for them in some way.
Children are hard enough to take care of when they are wanted, but when they’re not wanted they become burdens to the people who are supposed to protect them. Because of this, unwanted children are at a higher risk of developmental and health issues.
Now, say the child survives their parents and ends up in the care of the state. They will usually languish in homes or the foster system for years before possibly being adopted. More than 23,000 will “age out” of the foster system and of that number, 20% will become instantly homeless.
And what happens to that 20%? Being homeless at the ripe young age of 18 will almost always lead to a life of crime and/or addiction. Half will develop a substance abuse problem and only around 3% will go on to get a college degree.
But thank God they weren’t aborted, right?
Now, there are plenty of people who were adopted and went on to lead great, happy lives. I’m thrilled for them! They may have suffered and persevered, and that’s great that they were able to get through it. I’m not discounting the idea of adoption – I’m all for it when it works.
That said, right now hundreds of thousands of children and teens are waiting to be adopted in the United States, and many of them will never know the feeling of loving parents or family. They will only know the pain of abuse and neglect.
I have worked in the medical field for over a decade, and my sister has worked in childcare for even longer than that. Although anecdotal, we have both seen the consequences for the children who are forced to be born. Children burned. Broken bones. Drug addiction. Fetal alcohol syndrome. Death. Neglect. Mental abuse. Emotional abuse. The list goes on and on. There is no doubt in my mind that there was no good reason for them to be born in the first place.
As a Christian, I was taught that God knows what we are all going to do before we do it. I was taught that he created science and doctors and medical procedures. I was also taught that babies that don’t make it to birth just go back to Heaven.
So, as a Christian, I see abortion as the humane option in many circumstances. And as a liberal American woman who wants to be left alone, I see abortion as a decision that is only mine to make if it’s my uterus. Otherwise, it is something to be decided between the woman, her doctor and her god if she believes in one.
Less women are having abortions in this country today than they were 30 years ago because of more options for birth control. Studies show that access to free birth control lowers the abortion rate (shocking, I know). Yet, the same people who want to outlaw abortions also don’t want to provide birth control (or sex education for that matter), and fight to cut social programs like welfare and food stamps, which help take care of those kids they force to be born.
One of my favorite quotes about this issue is from Sister Joan Chittister:
I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.
If you are willing to force a child into this world only to make yourself feel better without any regard for what that child will go through, you are not on the moral high ground, and you’re not very Christ-like, either.