Various things have lead me to think about abortion in recent months. I have heard a fellow Denison student share her story of having an abortion, I have seen many white Christians attempt to deflect racial issues away from other issues on to abortion, and I have watched Lecrae’s testimony of having an abortion. I am as pro-life as ever and I am close to a one-issue voter. I cannot see myself feasibly voting for a candidate that is pro-choice (though I am sure there are circumstances in which that could happen and I want to make it clear that I do not want to put forward and dogmatic political positions for Christians and I am not condemning anyone who voted for Obama due to other issues). Anyway, my point is that I am pro-life. At the same time I am very disillusioned and uncomfortable with the majority of the pro-life movement. Here are 5 critiques I have:
1. Simplifying the Issue
I sense such a lack of understanding of the complexity of the issue of abortion. Sure, I believe abortion is murder, but if that is all that you can say about abortion, you are missing out on a lot of the underlying issues. One thing really stuck out to me from the student (who I will not name) who shared her story of abortion. She said that she did not wake up and decide she was going to have an abortion in the same way that she would decide to eat an ice cream cone, but that she decided to have it like a coyote chewing off its leg stuck in a fence to stay alive. This really stuck with me. Abortion is not a simple issue and there is no simple answer. Abortion happens with real people that go through real challenges.
2. Abortion Jukes
This one really makes me angry. It seems as if you cannot talk about any societal issue to some evangelicals without the conversation turning to abortion. It seems as if abortion is somehow a trump card to minimize the validity of other social concerns. Issues of racism, mass incarceration, immigration, suicide, and domestic violence are seen as unimportant because of abortion. Yes, abortion is a real issue and it is a big issue, but it is not our country’s only issue. Sometimes I feel as if world evangelism and pro-life advocacy are the only two acceptable causes for evangelical Christians to pour their life into. They are both important and if you are called to them, good for you, but we aren’t all called to be missionaries and abortion clinic protestors. One of those does not have to be my “pet” issue. I support your efforts to end abortion, but I would like you to support those who are called to pursue racial reconciliation, immigration reform, or the end of human trafficking.
3. Slavery/Holocaust Comparison
This one really makes me mad. I am not black or Jewish but sometimes I want to punch people in the face. TRAGEDIES DO NOT NEED TO BE COMPARED. They just don’t. Slavery was horrific. The Holocaust was horrific. Abortion is horrific. They are all horrific. I feel no reason to compare them or judge one of them as any worse than any of the others. It does not help. It is unnecessarily offensive to African Americans and Jews. The word Holocaust just needs to be retired. There was one Holocaust and that was done by Nazi Germany. Come up with a new word to describe it. Feticide. Cool. Use that. Glad we got that one settled. On to slavery. The ironic thing about it is that the support of slavery and the lack of support of civil rights and affirmative action by evangelicals is actually one of the reasons the abortion rate is so high. The reason abortion rates are higher among African Americans is due to systematic oppression and racism. And in a way African Americans are doing exactly what you taught them to do for centuries. When you out them in chains and consider them as 3/5 of a person one would expect that this would affect the way they view the dignity of human life. It is absolute hypocrisy to for several hundred years view a group as less than human and then expect for them to have correct concepts of the dignity of humanity while still opposing certain legislature that would benefit them. If you do not do everything in your power to make them feel as though they are valued members of society, then why should they view their unborn child as a valuable member of society? Anthony Bradley was right, if you want to work to end abortion, go invite a single African American pregnant woman to stay at your house for a while and help her get on her feet.
Part of this may be due to my personal distaste of heated confrontation and loud angry people, but something just doesn’t sit well with me when I see people with signs and posters of bloody fetuses yelling at women calling them murderers. It is kind of like the “fire and brimstone” version of social activism. It just gives me images of street preachers standing on boxes predicting the end times. If you want to yell at a rich woman in the burbs who is aborting her child because it has Down syndrome , I have little to no problem with that. She is a cold-blooded murderer. However, most women who get abortions are not cold blooded murderers. (Another reason I have a problem with the Holocaust comparison. Most of these women aren’t anything like Hitler.) An astonishing 84% of post-abortive women felt they had no other choice but to have an abortion. Yelling at them calling them murderers is not exactly providing them with another option. I love what Save the Storks, a Christian pro-life organization does. They do not sit and scream at women. They give them a sonogram and talk them through other options besides abortion. It is such a great idea that 60% of women that visit one of their mobile units choose not to have an abortion. It is crazy that compassion works. Though the aborted child is certainly a victim, the mother is often also a victim. Compassion and grace lead to change, not judgement and yelling. You must care about the mother as well as the child.
I believe fornication is a sin, but if Christians place too much of a stigma around it, it will lead unwed pregnant women, especially unwed teen pregnant women to seek abortions in secret. If you use derogatory words to describe teen mothers, you are asking for them to seek abortions in secret. Teen pregnancy and any pregnancy out of wedlock must be met with grace and love rather than shame and judgment. Teen mothers (and the father of their child) must be welcomed with open arms, not shunned and ostracized, especially by those who are Christians. In addition there must be grace and forgiveness for those women who have had an abortion. The church must be a place where they can be loved and seek healing. Various post-abortive issues such as mental health issues face women who have had an abortion, and the church should be a place where there are people willing to listen to their stories and walk with them in the process of forgiveness and healing. Another think that struck me from the student who shared her story was her description of God, a picture that is perpetuated by many evangelical pro-life advocates. She felt as if the God they worshiped was full of wrath and that is true, but that is only half the truth. God hates abortion. He hates abortion because He loves life. He hates abortion because of what it does to unborn babies and what it does to mothers. The reason He hates abortion has everything to do with the fact that He loves people. These tow facts cannot be separated. She said that she wished there was a God who was a loving Father who is holding His arms open waiting for her. He is that also. There is no sin too great for the cross of Christ. There is grace for every mother (and father) who has had an abortion. If there is enough grace to cover my pride, my lust, and my greed, there is enough grace to cover someone who has had 100 abortions. Frank Pavone wisely said “we who oppose abortion do not oppose those who have had abortions. Rather we embrace them with forgiveness and peace.”
Some helpful links
“What Abortion?” by Tullian Tchividjian This offers a picture of the amazing grace of Jesus.
“YES, HOW DARE YOU COMPARE ABORTION TO SLAVERY?!” by Thabiti Anyabwile An explanation of why abortion and slavery shouldn’t be compared
“RAY COMFORT’S “180” FILM ON HITLER AND ABORTION”/ by Justin Taylor A generous review of a pro-life documentary that I don’t really like or think is helpful.
Save the Storks. My favorite pro-life group