Right-wing religious fanatics had their so-called “March for Life” this past week, protesting against abortion rights for women in the hopes that the Supreme Court will overturn the long-held, long-settled Roe v. Wade decision dating back to 1973. This is an issue that enrages me mo
re than most because the pro-life position is blatantly irrational even by conservative standards. It relies solely on faith, making it a religious issue. Ergo, the Separation of Church and State laws dictate that this belief should have no bearing on the legality of abortion.
That aside, they are still wrong even from a religious viewpoint, as I’ll explain.
Christians are the vocal voice behind the anti-abortion movement and if you ask them why they’ve taken such a position they’ll say that life begins at conception. If this were true, then abortion must be murder. But ask them to cite anything specific from the Bible and 99% of the time they will be unable to do so.
Maybe that’s because the Bible never mentions abortion. The “abortion is bad” rule was added by organized religious institutions and do not derive from a Holy Book.
Those that are intimately familiar with the Bible cite Genesis 2:7 as a rebuttal. While it doesn’t mention abortion specifically, it does describe when life begins.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)
The first human became a “living being” (nefesh hayah, Hebrew for “a living breath”) when God blew into its nostrils and it started to breathe. Okay. As goofy as that sounds to any rationalist, Biblical scholars have consistently concluded that human life begins when you start breathing.
Now let’s pretend this fictitious belief were true. When does a fetus start to breath? I’ll give you a hint: not while inside the womb. Now there is a simulation of breathing as the mother sends oxygen to the fetus through the umbilical cord, causing the lungs to expand, but the fetus itself does not actually do any of the breathing.
This is when stubborn Christians might argue that the fetus is indirectly breathing and that it totally counts. Even if that were a valid argument (it isn’t), the fetus does not demonstrate indirect breathing until after the first 8 weeks of pregnancy.
So even if our laws were dictated by religious faith (which is illegal) and you’re a person that believes a 2,000 year old book written 70 years AFTER the death of Christ is somehow the accurate Word of God (it’s not) and even if you believe that a fetus on oxygen is the same as breathing independently (it isn’t), then you still have no basis for opposing a woman’s right to abort within the first two months of pregnancy. Period. And according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 66% of legal abortions occur during this time frame. Fancy that.
CONCLUSION: There is no Biblical basis for opposing the majority of abortions performed in the United States.
What the pro-life movement should be fighting for is better access to birth control and other contraceptives so women can prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place. Making sex education a mandatory curriculum in public schools would also go a long way. This would be a moral objective that we could all agree on. You don’t have to be religious to support lessening the number of abortions, after all. And this shared goal of can be done without sacrificing a woman’s right to choose.
If you look at the historical data dating back to the Roe v. Wade decision, legal abortion rates have in fact been steadily decreasing.
It’s also interesting that Christians vote for pro-life Republicans because they believe they’ll do a better job at lessening the abortion rates. As you can see, that’s hardly true. The two sharpest declines in abortion occurred under Democratic administrations. They plummeted by 27% under Bill Clinton and 11% under Barack Obama. Both those Presidents were pro-choice, so how could this be? Better access to healthcare, of course. It’s interesting to see that the number of abortions decreased the least under Ronald Reagan, the political Jesus of the religious-right. It’s amazing what you’ll discover when you actually do the research instead of blindly listening to a priest, isn’t it?
Finally, I’d like to leave you with the following quote:
“Abortion doesn’t empower women, choosing life empowers women. Many women have chosen to be birth mothers. They’ve chosen adoption for their children. And I know that there are many adopted families who were blessed by their brave decisions.” – Jeanne Mancini, President of The March for Life
I rest my case.