How to Hate Abortion and Support It Too

Pro-abortion is anti-Christian. Pro-choice is not.

I'm pro-choice but anti-abortion. I don't think a fetus should be included in women's rights but I can't support the belief that life begins at conception either.

The truth is we don't know when life or personhood or whatever you want to call the threshold to murder happens. Neither science nor religion can tell us.

Religious evidence is unimpressive

Christians have mustered an impressive list of unimpressive Bible verses to prove otherwise. They'll cite David who spoke of being formed by God in the womb, which only proves that God is sovereign over fetal development. Next, they'll quote Jeremiah who talks of being known by God before the womb, making it even clearer that the biblical writers were speaking about divine omniscience not biology.

It gets weirder. Some Christians will go to Hebrews and the author's description of Levi paying tithes while in his great-grandfather's loins. If that verse supports life before birth, then Sarah Silverman is right, and teenage boys are mass murderers. Of course, that also makes them cannibals because the body eventually reabsorbs unused sperm. I guess young men need to start having sex early and often with multiple partners so no sperm gets left behind. Like I said, weird.

And then there's the quintessential passage from the Mosaic law that discusses monetary compensation for accidentally striking a pregnant woman and either causing premature birth or a miscarriage. Obviously, pro-choicers prefer the latter, but the verb here is also used to describe the birth of Esau and Jacob making such an interpretation untenable. However, the text itself doesn't lend itself to fetal rights as the woman's health is the subject throughout, not the fetus's.

There are dozens of other irrelevant verses with equally misguided hermeneutics used to support the anachronistic notion of life at conception. But it's enough to say that there is not a single verse in Scripture that equates the termination of a pregnancy with murder.

Scientific evidence is inconclusive

Likewise, there have been a number of similarly inane, scientific arguments for when life begins. And all of them have been disproved over time.

One of the earliest documented theories was the quickening, or the baby's first kick. For centuries, this was thought to be when the fetus came alive. Until we got ultra-sounds. Now we can hear heartbeats as early as 6 weeks--much earlier than the first kick. Strike one.

By the twentieth century, many scientists were actually saying that fertilization was the starting point (and we're back to conception). But they soon discovered that this wasn't a simple, transactional event as much as an unpredictable dance between egg and sperm. Add to that other related processes like capacitation, implantation, and gastrulation, and the whole process becomes mounted with uncertainty. Strike two.

The most recent theory is also the one that determines the legality of abortions in this country: viability. In one sense, it's the most pragmatic and logically consistent of all of them because it relies on the fetus's ability to sustain itself. Much like pulling the plug on an accident victim breathing through a machine, preemies that can't survive on their own can legally be aborted.

The problem is that viability has changed every decade since Roe v. Wade. In the 1970's, it was 26 weeks. In the 1990's, it was 24 weeks. Today, 22 and even 21 week preemies are surviving. Strike three.

There is no conclusive, indisputable scientific evidence for when the beginning of life or personhood is. And that means no politician, scientist, or lobbyist can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that abortion is or is not murder. We simply cannot know for sure.

Thus, I am anti-abortion. Not because I believe with all of heart that fetuses have souls, but because those dice are far too weighty for me to roll. Life is not a game, and I will not play roulette with it.

Patriarchy is a red herring

The pro-abortion folks know all of this. Unlike their pro-life adversaries, they're usually quite well read on the subject so they know that life and personhood cannot be defined by science. Yet they choose to swallow the pill, sit in the stirrups, and spin the wheel.

They say it's for women's rights. They say men have oppressed women for centuries and that motherhood is a stereotype purposely cultivated to control them. They say abortion reclaims the control and makes the woman sovereign over her own body without obligation to the man and his seed.

And everything they say is misdirection. I hate patriarchy as much as the next liberal Christian, but men didn't create the imposition of motherhood. We may have leveraged it and manipulated it to our own selfish means, but it is not a societal construct any more than our DNA is optional.

Motherhood is God's fault. Men didn't give women uteruses, God did. And he's who pro-abortion folks are really mad at.

I don't know why God restricted pregnancy to women. I don't know why he didn't even allow men to contribute physically in nourishing children after birth. Nothing about it is fair, yet that's what he did. And unlike most of the other things we don't like about how he created us, we can't change it.

You can blame patriarchy for making women feel guilty for wanting a family and a career when men can have both without raising an eyebrow. But you can't blame society for the fact that I couldn't carry our child to term nor nurse her. Only God gets the credit for forcing women to choose between the life of their child and the life of their career.

Women's rights aren't biblical

Abortion is not the answer. Combating oppressive gender roles is one thing, but eliminating gender-specific biological functions is another. We may never know God's reasons for creating human reproduction as he did, but we do know that personal rights is not a good reason to spit in the face of his design.

My fellow feminists will hate me for saying this, but a woman does not have sole rights over her body. Biblically speaking, a married woman shares those rights with her husband as the husband shares the rights over his body with her. Thus, a man has a say in whether or not the woman keeps the baby. It's no longer her body, it's their body. Likewise, a woman has a say in whether or not the man gets a vasectomy. It works both ways.

The oneness in marriage is a model for how we're to relate to God and each other. God is one, yet three. The church is one, yet many. Love makes this possible as we daily sacrifice our selves in deference to others. The obstinate independence of the pro-abortion lobby has no place here. If you chose to follow Jesus, you sacrificed your rights as a woman or man on the cross.

You don't have to like it, but you also don't have to be a Christian.

But I'm still pro-choice

All that being said, I can still vote pro-choice. As inconsistent as it sounds, I cannot support the pro-life movement for one simple reason: abstinence.

Though some are beginning to distance themselves from it, abstinence remains a key subtext in the anti-abortion platform. And it's beyond naive. If abortion is ruthlessly pragmatic, abstinence is stupidly idealistic. Kids will have sex. They will get pregnant. Nothing is going to change that.

The less indoctrinated pro-lifers will advocate for adoption as an alternative to that archaic ethic, but it isn't any more realistic. Christians aren't applying for adoption in droves and those that are seem more interested in serving their own desires than those of needy children. So much for true religion.

Before self-righteously lobbying for an illogical platform, consider this: if you convince a teenager to keep her baby, you should be willing to adopt that baby. If you're that convinced that adoption is the answer, then you need live out your beliefs. Otherwise, your selfish principles are bringing lots of unloved children into the world.

Personally, I'm opting for the only movement that I believe will reduce abortions. The one that hands out condoms in schools because they're not deluded enough to think that teenagers aren't having sex at younger and younger ages. The very platform that I don't even support in principle. Because sometimes that's what it means to be a Christian: putting the lives of people ahead of your beliefs.

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photo credit: Heather via photopin (license)

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