By Jasmine Deleon, ’20 and Saidah Bien-Aime, ’20. *Saidah Bien-Aime is a former member of the class of 2020 who lives in Boston and worships at Jubilee. Jasmine Deleon is a member of the class of 2020 who lives in Lexington and worships at St. Camillus Parish.
The following is a student-written opinion piece submitted to and reviewed by our editors at The Blue and White. Any messages or themes projected in editorials are not representative of the views of the LCA faculty or administration, or the Blue and White as an organization. Rather, the views shared in editorials are solely reflective of the worldview and belief of the individual author. For more on editorials, please read this article.
Last year, a series of pieces were published on the topic of abortion from a Christian perspective, which are accessible here and here. However, as the Christian community holds many diverse perspectives, we feel it necessary to capture these beliefs within the faith and now present an article on abortion from another Christian perspective. Our hope is that both views can be received with the same openness to understanding and consideration of our community’s diverse beliefs.
The pro-life/pro-choice debate is a sensitive issue. Due to the recent ban on abortions placed in states like Alabama and Georgia, it has been a hot topic in today’s media. Previous Blue and White articles have adddressed the pro-life veiwpoint; however, there are several members of the LCA community who identify with the pro-choice perspective. As Christian women who identify with the pro-choice stance, we find it especially important to explain our views and exactly why we think this way.
The issue of whether or not to bring a child into the world is a very personal choice. For many Christians who are “pro-choice,” the issue is one of social justice. We are called “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8 NASB). “Pro-choice” can be defined as the opinion that advocates for people with female anatomy to have the ability to choose whether or not they want to carry a pregnancy to term. For many Christians, being pro-choice is a way to embrace our call to “do justice.” Whether or not a woman carries her pregnancy to term becomes a deeply personal moral issue, rather than one that should be regulated by laws or by religious doctrine.
“Every pregnancy, every situation is unique, because it involves people with their own joys, griefs, and relationships. Conception and pregnancy are not always welcomed with joy and gratitude, even for a married couple.” Similarly, some very much wanted pregnancies become life or death issues, either for the mother or for a fetus with severe birth defects that are incompatible with life. Ultimately, as Christians, we need to recognize that there is more that unites us than divides us. We need to seek common ground when we disagree, especially when there are many diverse opinions regarding social and cultural issues. While the “sanctity of life” is something all Christians agree on, many “pro-life” Christians would more accurately be described as “pro-birth,” believing that anyone who is “pro-choice” is also “pro-abortion.” However, these terms oversimplify a very complex issue.
Why a pro-life stance makes life difficult for vulnerable women.
No one wants to get an abortion. “Christians who are in favor of legal access to safe abortions are rarely ‘pro-abortion’ and do not consider termination of a pregnancy a decision to be entered into lightly. Rather, they view the decision of whether or not to carry an unplanned pregnancy to term as a decision to be made by the woman, her medical team, her family, and others who might provide spiritual or personal counsel, rather than a mandate from the government” (Schlesinger).
The reality is that, despite no one’s wanting an abortion, some people are in positions where access to abortion care impacts them more than others. For instance, people in poverty are the ones most affected by abortion. This is because they tend to not have the funds, resources, or financial stability to care for a child. Putting a child in a home that cannot care for it ultimately causes a dangerous environment for the child. This child endangerment might include having a shortage of food or the absence of proper schooling due to a lack of funds. Both food and proper schooling are crucial for the development of a young child and their ability to move out into the real world. The decision of whether or not to have a child becomes an issue of social justice. Every child deserves to be raised in a loving home with sufficient resources to care for them.
The pro-life position also makes the argument of adoption. Many say, “if you don’t want the child, just put it up for adoption.” There are flaws with this argument. First, the adoption system itself is very flawed. There have been many cases of child abuse that have been reported, but also never looked into (Children’s Bureau). Secondly, some women aren’t ready for the changes in commitment that physically having a child can bring. There’s also nothing wrong with either not being ready for a child or not wanting one. Of course, protecting against pregnancy with abstinence or contraception is the best option, but even these measures can’t always prevent an unexpected pregnancy in situations of rape, abuse, or failed contraceptives.
Alternatives to being pro-life that will help children WITHOUT focusing on abortion.
Without holding an “anti-abortion” belief, it is still possible to support women in ways that look to reduce the need for abortions. Financial instability is a major reason women seek abortions, and this can be caused by numerous things, the most common being the underpayment of employees or lack of support. Being underpaid mainly comes from the varying minimum wages across the country. Some earn $14/hr while others earn as low as $7.25/hr. This is barely enough to care for one person nevermind a growing family. The lack of support can stream from bad marriages, being a single parent, and religious tension amongst other things. To address this, we believe there should be new programs set in place to support new or young mothers. By programs, we mean something that can bring financial and emotional support to mothers who decide to carry their pregnancies to term. This support can aid mothers in deciding to have children instead of pursuing abortions.
Another aspect to consider is that of teenage pregnancy. Instead of teaching abstinence, school systems should be teaching kids about all human anatomy along with the options they have to protect themselves against pregnancy. We are not advocating for young people to be sexually active, but instead we should be teaching them how to protect themselves so that pregnancy and STDs don’t occur. Teaching teens how to properly protect themselves lowers pregnancy rates which in turn lowers rates of abortion. In the end, this doesn’t put the pressure on the boy to be a father and doesn’t force the girl to become a mother or take care of a child she never asked for or planned.
Pro-choice IS a fair and ethical belief
Although abortion is a very controversial topic, we both believe that people who choose to get abortions should not be judged or persecuted for their actions. What other people do with their bodies is none of society’s concern. Even if you don’t agree with the idea of abortion, it does not mean that you have the right to force your view on others, especially with a ban. Another thing to think about is the perspective of the person getting an abortion. Eliminating access to legal abortions will not stop people from getting them. In fact, it will do the opposite. People will still choose to have abortions, but these abortions will instead be unsafe and cause a higher mortality rate than there already is.
People don’t owe you or anyone else an explanation for why they get an abortion. When it comes to abortion, most people have them during their first trimester (12 weeks). In the 12 weeks, the embryo is only about 3 cm (Norwicki). During this time, people who get abortions will typically get suction abortion. Although this sounds scary, all that happens during this procedure is that the tissue is extracted through a small tube. The argument that abortion causes the fetus pain is a very tricky one. Pain is subjective to each person, but it’s very unlikely that the fetus will feel pain because the nervous system isn’t developed until the 3rd trimester (Clinical Review). Although people tend to villify abortion, 1 in 4 women have one by the time they’re 45. These people are your neighbors, family members, and coworkers. They’re not murderers or “child killers” but instead normal people who struggled to make a very difficult decision under very challenging circumstances.
Everyone, inlcuding pro-choice supporters, wants to lower abortion rates because no one wants to be in a position where they feel an abortion is the best choice. On the other hand, we believe that banning abortions is not the way to accomplish this. Instead, we believe supporting mothers and children will lower abortion rates without targeting women who feel they have fewer options. In this way, we believe being pro-choice allows us “to do justice, to love kindly, and to walk humbly with God.”