Why good Christians
should  be  "Pro-Choice"
  [ 1 ],  2  of Christian Choice
[  http://LiberalsLikeChrist.Org/ChristianChoice.html ]

Preliminary clarifications :

Before even beginning a discussion of the philosophical issue of  "when life begins" and the moral issue of  "what can or cannot be done about that life", allow me to at least clear up some unnecessary confusion over the basic terms of this debate.

  1. "When does life begin?"  Sounds like a simple question, doesn't it. But it's not as simple as it looks. Everybody thinks they know what the word "life" means. But do they? When people engage in a discussion of "when life begins", do they understand that "life" doesn't actually "begin" at any stage of pregnancy, because life exists in the parents prior to conception, and "procreation" is simply the extension of that pre-existing life to new individuals. What is new is not "human life" but new owners of human life, i.e. new "persons".
            Without having to repeat it every time the word is used, therefore, it should always be understood that in the context of the abortion debate, the word "life" is a misnomer.   So long as people speak of "life" when what they really mean is "person", no wonder they can't understand each other.  People need to stop debating "When does a life begin?" and instead try to resolve the question, "When does a new person start his or her life?"
  2. In similar fashion, confusion ought to be avoided over the meaning of the key expression "human being".  While it is obvious that there is a "being" from the moment of conception, and the entity in question is "human" (as opposed to some other species), Pro-Life people often overlook the fact that the expression "human being" normally means something more, i.e. "human person".  Although a human breast is both a "being" and "human", it would obviously be foolish of anyone to argue that this human part is therefore a "human being", and that "aborting" its connection with its human host would be tantamount to murder.  Yet that is the way some Pro-Life people argue about the contents of a woman's womb.
  3. And finally, perhaps the principal reason why the abortion debate in America is so often totally confused and confusing is the fact people see it as one debate pitting those who are for something against those who are against that same thing. But, in actual fact, it is two debates, with the antagonists spending most of their time and energy talking past one another, because of this misunderstanding.  See how much less frustrating for everybody involved, when you stop confusing these two very different debates, and deal with each one separately :
On the one side,
the "Pro-Life" people
are arguing over :
On the other side
the "Pro-Choice" people
are arguing over :
the boundaries of human life.  Because they believe that human life begins at conception, they believe that intentionally ending any human life after conception is immoral.  this debate is all about biology, philosophy and/or religion. the boundaries of the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution.  They believe that freedom of religion entitles American citizens to live by their own conscience, rather than that of others.  this debate is all about laws, politics and/or government.
Here are the "Pro-Life"
Moral or Religious
issues to be resolved :
Here are the Pro-Choice
Legal or Government
issues to be resolved :
  1. There is not now, nor will there ever be, a scientific instrument that will be able to detect the presence of a human soul or a human person at any stage of development of human beings, ( including the stage that you and I are at).  Pro-Life people look at the limited evidence, like the early appearance of the physical characteristics of human beings in the fetus, and they say "the glass is half full", jumping to the conclusion that there is a human soul there.  Pro-Choice people look at the same evidence and say "the glass is half-empty", and there is no human person there.  Science cannot prove the absence of human souls any more than it can prove their presence.  This entitles both sides to believe whatever they choose (on grounds other than rational proof), but it doesn't entitle them to use politics to impose their views through legislation on others.
  2. Whenever I hear fellow Christians asserting with divine certitude that God or Christ could not possibly condone abortion, I ask them the following questions :
            If you really believe that God is all-knowing and that the Bible is God's Word, how can you possibly explain the fact that neither the God of the Old Testament nor Jesus nor anyone else in the New Testament used even one of the 31,173 verses of the Bible to do what crusaders like you are striving to do in God's name, namely, to prevent as many as possible of the millions of abortions that have been taking place throughout the world every year not just in recent times, but even in Jesus' day and in Old Testament times?  (You may only have discovered abortion recently, but the world has known about it from ancient times on.)  Do you imagine that God and Jesus have been totally mute on what you view as the most important moral issue of all time because :
    1. God (and/or Jesus) didn't know what you are so sure that you know, i. e. that a human being's personhood begins at the moment of conception? *1
    2. God didn't know that abortions were being performed from ancient times (with herbs, physical means, and the like)? *1
    3. God was squeamish about sex and uncomfortable talking about it?
    4. God didn't have the courage it takes to wage war on popular sins?
    5. God didn't know or care that, without clear condemnations of this practice, billions of innocent human beings over the centuries would be killed and billions of adults would be murderers themselves, or accessories to murder?
    6. "God's Word" was written for "the Holy Land" and for "the old days", not for 20th century America?
    7. God and/or Jesus are nothing but lifeless dummies, requiring "Christian Conservative" ventriloquists to speak for them?
              The only answer I ever get to these important questions is the very inadequate one that the Bible's commandment "Thou shalt not kill" is all that is needed.
              Yet, the same bible that quotes God himself as commanding "Thou shalt not kill" also quotes him saying "kill" all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons. See problemswithgod.html
              So, how do we know that "Thou shalt not kill" covers this very unique situation of termination a pregnancy, (but doesn't apply to the killing of animals at will, or to the killing of people we don't approve of, in war and prisons)?  Didn't God know how ineffective that vague command would be, if it was intended to cover unborn fetuses?  Why did God spell out in excruciating detail so many far less important commandments in the Bible, and then run out of breath, so to speak, when it came to the tiny easily overlooked victims of abortion? *1
    8. And one more question about God: Given his divine omnipotence, why on earth does God allow (according to the best scientific estimates) some one third or one fourth of all the "babies" conceived to be killed in the womb by natural abortions, ( or "miscarriages"), many of them too early to even to be noticed by the naked human eye, but certainly known by an omniscient God?
    9. Why do Americans allow some people to transform an issue which is not even mentioned in the Hebrew or the Christian Bibles into the single most pressing moral issue of our time? *1
    10. Christian Pro-Life advocates who are consistent in their concern for the needy, deserve a lot of respect.  But not so Conservative Republicans who consistently oppose the efforts of liberal Democrats to help the poor, the homeless, the uninsured, the underpaid, and minorities of all kinds, and then trot out Christ's teaching about helping "the least of these my brothers" to support their anti-abortion position!  Why can't the advocates of justice for the homeless, for minorities, for the uninsured, the imprisoned, for victims of various kinds of abuse get the kind of attention and support from Conservative Christians that abortion gets? *1
  1. Conservative Republicans claim to resent the intrusion of the Federal government into matters that ought best be left to state and local governments, and individual citizens.  They argue that the 10th Amendment to the Constititution explicitly states that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."  And yet, they somehow turn themselves inside out when it comes to this one issue!  Is it really principle that moves them, or political advantage?
  2. Do Pro-Life Americans who want to enshrine their view of abortion into law really believe in "Freedom of Religion",  or do they only claim to believe in it to the extent that it protects them?  How can Americans say in one breath that they prize the 1st amendment of our country's Constitution:  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,"  and in the next argue that our government should make illegal a practice which others believe is moral ?

  3. Even if the prohibition of abortion were a desirable goal, we have learned in America that a legislative prohibition that does not enjoy the full backing of the public has the extremely detrimental side effect of persuading otherwise law-abiding citizens to sympathize more with the law-breakers than the law-enforcers.
  4. Does anyone actually believe that the indiscretions of Republican wives, girl friends and daughters are not now remedied by abortions, or that if abortion is made illegal (for the poor) in America, the indiscretions of the rich will not continue to be kept secret through abortions practiced outside of the country or in exclusive institutions in America ?
  5. Considering the divisions which the abortion issue causes within our nation, within our religious communities, and within our families, apart from the benefits derived for the Republican Party and its rich patrons and beneficiaries, what is gained by keeping this issue boiling constantly? *1
*1 There is much more on these points below:

"Pro-Life" leaders want their followers and the public to believe that they and they alone are on the side of "Life".  They accuse those who don't agree with them as being part of a "culture of death".  They assume that the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" covers the human fetus from the moment of conception.  And they apply the words of Jesus "Whatever you have done to the least of these" to the little fetuses. 
        But if defending primitive forms of life is what makes people "pro-life" and if disagreeing with such a view makes one "pro-death", then vegetarians, who oppose the killing and eating of animal life have just as much reason to call themselves "pro-life" as those who champion fetuses.  Just to show the world how silly the "Pro-Life" charade is, maybe vegetarians should lay claim to the "Pro-Life" Title!  Killing animals (especially when they are defenseless) is akin to murder for many very wise people, people like the mathematician Pythagoras, Saint Francis of Assisi, the artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci, 3rd U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, philosopher and doctor Albert Schweitzer, Civilization and Ethics, statesman and philosopher Mahatma Gandhi, inventor Thomas Edison, Nobel-wining physicist Albert Einstein, authors Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, Ralph Waldo Emerson, & George Bernard Shaw,   See what they all had to say on the topic at LiberalsLikeChrist.Org/about/vegetarian.html.

As far as the religious Issue is concerned, here is

What the Bible says about  Abortion


( It's not what Conservatives claim ! )
by Rev. Raymond P. Dubuque

There is absolutely nothing wrong with people believing with all their heart, and soul and mind that a human person begins at conception, if that is what they choose to believe.  It's even alright, in a democracy such as America, for people with such beliefs to promote legislation that would make abortion at any stage of pregnancy and in every instance murder.  But it is wrong to claim the authority of the Jewish or the Christian Bible for such beliefs.  If people want to adopt and promote such "extra-biblical" beliefs,  then they should be honest enough to admit that there is no more support for them in the bible than there is for sending people to hell for playing cards, drinking or smoking in moderation, dancing, or practicing birth control.  Conservative preachers have always had more reasons to send people to hell than Jesus gave them.
        The fact is that no serious Christian or Jewish authority can legitimately claim that the "pro-life" teaching is taught in any clear or straightforward way in the Bible.  The plain truth is that - – contrary to first impressions - – not one verse in the whole Bible says anything unequivocally clear and direct against abortion, or about the moment in time when a human person begins his or her individual life on earth.  The nearest the Bible comes to helping the Judeo-Christian community settle the matter are a reference to miscarriage in Deuteronomy, one passage in Leviticus in which God seems to recommend abortion, a few Old Testament references to life before birth, and an episode before John the Baptist's birth.
        Keep in mind that the burden of proof is not on those who don't know when human life begins or who don't believe that it begins at conception to prove when it does begin.  The whole burden of proof is on those who claim that the Bible entitles them to demand that every Jew and/or Christian agree with their contention that a fetus is a human being from the moment of conception, and that taking that life from any point thereafter is therefore murder, pure and simple.
        Let's take a good look at each of the biblical arguments in turn,  beginning with the most simplistic argument, the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill".
        If this means that we are not ever allowed to kill, then we break this commandment all the time when we kill animals, pests and germs.  And even vegetarians "kill" the fruits and vegetables that they eat.  Many Conservatives argue in one breath that God forbids killing the unborn, and argue in favor of killing those condemned to die in unjust courts, or killing enemy peoples by the hundreds of thousands with weapons of mass destruction.  Clearly the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" was meant to forbid what we now call "murder".  If and only if it can be proven that killing a fetus is murder, then this commandment would apply.
        If it's against God's plan for foetuses to die before birth, and if killing them is just as much infanticide as killing a baby after it is born, then isn't it strange that for every human pregnancy that ends with the birth of a live baby, God allows one and perhaps even two "babies" to be aborted spontaneously?   See medical resources like www.emedicine.com/emerg/topic5.htm, which reports that:

In the US: Many pregnancies are not viable. According to estimates, 50% of pregnancies terminate spontaneously before the first missed menstrual period; these abortions usually are not clinically recognized.  Spontaneous abortion typically is defined as a clinically recognized (ie, by blood test or ultrasound) pregnancy loss before 20 weeks' gestation."

This fact is especially troublesome for Catholics who have been taught by their childless celibate clergy for centuries that the best that babies and foetuses that die without the benefit of a good Catholic baptism can hope for in the hereafter is an eternity in the state of "Limbo".  Since that has been the fate of the majority of children in the underdeveloped parts of the world throughout history as well as today, and it is estimated that for every human pregnancy that produces a live baby, one and perhaps even two pregancies are aborted spontaneously, according to the Church there are destined to be many more souls in "Limbo" for all eternity than in heaven and hell combined.  Of course, they have been forced to finally abandon their ridiculous teaching on Limbo, and in a few hundred more years, they'll be forced to abandon their untenable positions on birth-control and abortion, but in the meantime, see www.CatholicArrogance. Org/Catholic/Limbo.html.


       Another of the arguments "pro-life" people use is this New Testament episode in
{Luke 1:41 – 44} 

"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb.  And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry,   'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.   And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?  For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy."

      If you are already convinced of the humanity of the fetus before birth, then these verses may be very compelling for you, but no theologian worth his salt would base any doctrine on such casual references.  Luke is clearly not teaching anything about the nature of Elizabeth's fetus.  The context is clearly about the miraculous nature of Mary's upcoming pregnancy.  Even without this miraculous context, the fact of Elizabeth's interpreting some movement of her developing fetus as a human person "leaping for joy" proves nothing except for those determined to read into a situation much more than is actually stated.


The same can be said of these verses from Genesis 25:21 – 23.  When I looked them up and read them the way bible literalists do, I discovered that, not only was there a human or two in Rebekah's womb during her pregnancy, but there were two whole nations in the womb:

Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived.  The children struggled together within her;  and she said, "If it is to be this way, why do I live?"  So she went to inquire of the Lord.  And the Lord said to her,  "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided;  the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger."

        Don't expect literalists to be consistent about this.  They will insist that God didn't actually mean literally that there were "two nations" in her womb, but he did mean literally that there were two full-fledged human persons in her womb.


      Similarly, it's easy for those who are already convinced of the humanity of the fetus before birth to find the following very compelling:
{Jeremiah 1:5} reads

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born, I set you apart." 

Those who take this to mean that one becomes a human being before birth - – perhaps even at the moment of conception - – are simply overlooking the fact that the first part of the verse makes it clear that what is being addressed here is not our life on earth, but our existence in God's mind, which begins not just before we are born, but before we are even conceived, perhaps even before anything on earth came into existence!  Since God knows all things, and has known all things from the beginning of time, surely his saying that "he knew us before we were born" (and even before we were conceived, or before anything came into being on earth) does not prove that we existed before we existed !  Right now, God knows the children who will be born to your great-grand children in the next century.  But does that make those future children living human beings here and now ?


Likewise, some people who read { Psalm 139:19 } "You knit me together in my mother's womb,"   are convinced this proves that God completes our creation while we are still in our mother's womb.  That may be one way to understand those words.  But anyone who wishes may also take the words to mean that we come into existence as a bunch of tissues woven together in our mother's womb with some kind of divine knitting needle.  But where does anyone derive the right to deny that this verse may be saying nothing more than 'God is responsible for the way a human being's body develops in its mother's womb'?  The verse says nothing about when God infuses that fetus with the human soul which is what makes it a human person.
        Anybody who takes the previous verses literally should also take the following passage literally :

Genesis 25:21-23  
        "...Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb,"   People who wouldn't dare claim that God really meant that there were whole nations in a woman's womb can't seem to appreciate how silly it is to claim that "God's word" teaches that fetuses in the womb are complete human beings.

In his infinite wisdom, God knew that herbally induced abortions were a common practice from the earliest days of the Bible.  Abortion was widespread through much of the ancient world.  A herb called silphium, a variety of giant fennel, was so effective that during Greek and Roman times that it was harvested to extinction.  It could not be cultivated and grew only in the deserts of Libya.  God also certainly knew that abortions would become more and more common as medical knowledge progressed over the centuries.  If God views abortion as murder, why wouldn't he have made that clear, instead of allowing so many to become either needless victims on the one hand or unwitting murderers on the other? See much more about this at http://www.libchrist.com/other/abortion/ru486.html .
        Actually, the Bible explicitly teaches that the killing of a fetus prior to birth is very different from the killing of post-birth human beings:

{Exodus 21: 22 – 25}   reads:

"When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, ( i.e. an 'unintended abortion') and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman's husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. 
        If any harm follows (to the woman who is the one viewed as a human being), then you shall give life for life (i.e.  death penalty), eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."

        If the fetus is as much a human being as the mother, why does the death of the full-size human merit capital punishment, while all the death of the premature human being merits is a fine?
Note:
        After writing the above, and being informed by a reader that the Hebrew word is not actually "miscarriage" - – which clearly assumes death of the fetus - – but simply "premature delivery" allowing for either life or death, I offer the following translation :

The Hebrew Bible in English
according to the JPS 1917 edition

"And if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow, he shall be surely fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine . But if any harm follow, then thou shalt give (take) life for life . . ."

In this version of the text, my argument hinges on whether " her fruit depart" means "dead" or not.  Since that is not at all clear, I concede that the argument I have made here is not air tight.  It may be right, but isn't necessarily so.  (Have you ever seen Conservatives make such an admission?)


Now here is a passage in which the Scripture appears to say that "The Lord" instructs the clergy to use an abortifacient drink to expose a wife's infidelity:

Numbers 5: 11 – 31  

"The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:  'Speak to the Israelites and say to them: If any man's wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him, if a man has had intercourse with her but it is hidden from her husband, so that she is undetected though she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her since she was not caught in the act; if a spirit of jealousy comes on him, and he is jealous of his wife who has defiled herself; or if a spirit of jealousy comes on him, and he is jealous of his wife, though she has not defiled herself; then the man shall bring his wife to the priest.  And he shall bring the offering required for her, one-tenth of an ephah of barley flour.  He shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of remembrance, bringing iniquity to remembrance.
        Then the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the Lord; the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water.  The priest shall set the woman before the Lord, dishevel the woman's hair, and place in her hands a grain offering of remembrance, which is the grain offering of jealousy.  In his own hand the priest shall have the water of bitterness that brings the curse.  Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, "If no man has lain with you, if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while under your husband's authority, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings the curse.  But if you have gone astray while under your husband's authority, if you have defiled yourself and some man other than your husband has had intercourse with you," – let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse and say to the woman – " the Lord make you an execration and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your uterus drop, your womb discharge; now may this water that brings the curse enter your bowels and make your womb discharge, your uterus drop!" And the woman shall say, "Amen.  Amen."  Then the priest shall put these curses in writing, and wash them off into the water of bitterness.  He shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings the curse, and the water that brings the curse shall enter her and cause bitter pain.  The priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy out of the woman's hand, and shall elevate the grain offering before the Lord and bring it to the altar; and the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering, as its memorial portion, and turn it into smoke on the altar, and afterward shall make the woman drink the water.
        When he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall discharge, her uterus drop, and the woman shall become an execration among her people.
        But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she shall be immune and be able to conceive children.  This is the law in cases of jealousy, when a wife, while under her husband's authority, goes astray and defiles herself,  or when a spirit of jealousy comes on a man and he is jealous of his wife; then he shall set the woman before the Lord, and the priest shall apply this entire law to her.
        The man shall be free from iniquity, but the woman shall bear her iniquity."

In this instance, should the priest and husband be excused of the "murder of an innocent child" because God put them up to it?  If so, what kind of God recommends such murders in order to expose the adultery of their mothers (while doing nothing comparable about the sins of the missing fathers and/or unfaithful husbands)?

When is a "baby" not a baby?

Answer : When dishonest "pro-lifers" use the term to refer to the pre-born :
        Words have meaning, and contrary to what these "pro-lifers" would have you believe, there are appropriate terms for the various stages of life, and "baby" is inappropriate for all but very few of them:
  • zygote (day 1: conception)
  • blastocyst (about day 10 : implantation)
  • embryo (about day 14 : dramatic growth)
  • ( about 10 weeks : features begin to look human)
  • baby ( from moment of birth until toddler stage )
  • newborn ( 01 month)
  • infant ( 1 month 1 year)
  • toddler ( 13 years)
  • preschooler ( 46 years)
  • school-aged child ( 613 years)
  • adolescent ( 1318)
  • youth
  • young adults
  • adult
  • middle age
  • senior
        Let pro-lifers talk about "zygotes", etc. as human persons, if they like, but for them to call a zygote, blastocyst, embryo, or fetus a "baby" is just plain dishonest language abuse.

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