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On February 10, the left-wing website Vice published a piece that presents the unique idea that a woman’s right to get an abortion is as much a religious right as it is a constitutional one.
For the record, both interpretations are preposterous.
The author of the piece, Leila Ettachfini, cites liberal theologian Bruce Waltke, who penned an essay in 1968 for Christianity Today arguing in favor of birth control and abortion.
“God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed,” Waltke wrote. “Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.”
Setting aside the fact that Waltke didn’t speak for the whole of Christianity — as well as the fact that much of the objection to abortion is not about religion, but about the taking of an innocent life — Ettachfini argues that this was the prevailing opinion of Christendom at the time.
“When evangelical professor Bruce Waltke shared a standard biblical interpretation in favor of abortion in 1968, his words were hardly controversial,” Ettachfini wrote.
The piece contends that the “right” to abortion is not only codified in the Ninth and 14th Amendments, as Justice Harry Blackmun dubiously expressed in the majority opinion, but in the First Amendment as well.
“As Roe v. Wade is threatened by increasingly restrictive state bills and a Supreme Court stacked against reproductive rights, pro-choice Jews, Muslims and Christians may soon be forced to come to the legal defense of abortion in a way it’s never been argued before: as a religious right,” Ettachfini wrote.
The piece went on to explain various reasons why abortion is not only allowed in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, but in many cases the religions actually encourage it.
“There’s a lot of folks who are pro-choice or support reproductive dignity and freedom because of their faith and not in spite of it,” said Katey Zeh, a Baptist minister and the CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
Further, the piece argues that the entire pro-life movement was not born out of compassion for the unborn, but out of politics. It was those rascally Republicans who made this whole abortion thing an issue.
“It was then that a political — not a theological — effort was made by Republicans, specifically Richard Nixon, to recruit Catholic Democratic voters by polarizing the issue of abortion,” Ettachfini wrote.
With the Left, it always comes down to politics — morality be damned.
When an overwhelmingly liberal Supreme Court ruled on Roe vs. Wade in January of 1973, it dubiously found that abortion must be allowed due to an unwritten “right to privacy” found in the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.
“No state shall make any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Justice Blackmun wrote that the clause’s meaning “was broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” It was so broad, in fact, that it doesn’t even really exist.
Yale law professor John Hart Ely — an abortion advocate — summed up the flaws of Roe v. Wade: “What’s frightening about Roe … is that this super-protected right is not inferable from the language of the Constitution, the framers’ thinking respecting the specific problem in issue, any general value derivable from the provisions they included, or the nation’s governmental structure.… It is bad because it is bad constitutional law, or rather because it’s not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.”
Perhaps the Left is finally coming to grips with the fact that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is an extremely flawed decision and is ripe for reversal in coming years. With that realization comes the need for a new rationale to support the barbarism of abortion. Enter religion and its First Amendment protections as a new way to protect and defend the killing of babies.
But the religious arguments against abortion do not represent the entire pro-life position. For instance, new scientific findings show that the unborn baby is a unique human being and feels pain far earlier than ever suspected. And the abortion process is extremely painful to the unborn.
But neither science nor religion truly encapsulates any individual’s distaste for abortion. The grisly practice just feels wrong to many of us, regardless of faith or science. Abortion is not wrong only because God says it is. It’s wrong because it’s the taking of an innocent human life.
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