I am a Christian, and I long to see a reduction in the number of abortions. However, banning abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, as several states in the south and midwest propose to do by criminalizing the procedure, just does not sit right with me. I think of the woman in John 8 who was caught in adultery and brought before Jesus. Jesus’ response was compassionate and wise; he turned to her accusers and told them ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’ It seems to me that we have no right to criminalise and punish a woman for abortion, given that we are sinners ourselves.
The Right has it wrong; simply banning abortion on its own, without offering any help for the Mother cannot be fair. All too often a baby is aborted because the woman feels she cannot afford to raise the child; there is plenty of government assistance that could be provided to help her to keep the child and prevent abortion. Alternative legislation that would help to reduce abortion such as free healthcare, maternity leave, maternity pay and housing for the poor should be implemented first.
The arguments on the Left are just as misplaced though. There are countless articles arguing that abortion is every woman’s right, and that this is what feminism looks like. Every unwanted pregnancy is surely a failure of feminism. When women are fully educated and empowered then there will be an end to unwanted pregnancies and therefore abortion. Women need to be educated about contraception and that includes married women, approximately 70% of abortions are carried out on married women. Women need to be empowered to tell their partners to wait if they are not ready for sex; this may mean telling them to wait 10 minutes while they obtain contraception from a pharmacy, waiting a week until they’ve seen their doctor or waiting months, years or until they are married if that is their choice. No woman should feel compelled to have sex when it is not on her terms. Feminism is about achieving this.
Abortion is bad for the baby, obviously, and bad for the woman. Any unnecessary surgical procedure should be avoided, not to mention the emotional scars left behind. Surely both the left and right can agree on this and should be working together to reduce abortion. As a Christian, I pray that common ground can be found: legislation to support mothers and families, education and empowerment for women. Abortion should not be criminalized, but neither should it be celebrated.
I also believe the gospel holds the answer to ending abortion. It offers love and compassion for the mother, hope for the future and patience and self-control in every tough situation. The fruits of the Spirit are truly astonishing and powerful. Yet, reaching our communities with the gospel takes time and a long-term commitment to love and not to judge. Only when everyone receives the good news and life-changing message that they are dearly beloved and valued by Jesus, will abortion stop. Christians should not be tempted to take short cuts, via criminalising abortion, over the long term goal of loving families and pointing them to Christ.
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