A North Carolina professor of religious studies argued Monday that Christians should support abortions for basically any reason the mother wants one.
In the column Monday on Elon University’s website, Professor Rebecca Todd Peters, also a Presbyterian minister, claimed opposition to abortion “flies in the face of Jesus’ teachings,” Campus Reform reports.
“There is nothing Christian about requiring women to ‘justify’ their reasons for abortion,” Peters wrote. “And there is certainly nothing Christian about forcing women to continue pregnancies against their will.”
She based her argument on the assertion that many Christian denominations allow abortions in at least limited circumstances. Peters argued Christians are wrong to support some abortions but oppose others.
“By focusing on the acceptability of PRIM (Prenatal health, Rape, Incest, and health of the Mother) abortions, Christians have shaped the dominant public discourse about abortion into a debate about justification,” she wrote. “[T]his framework divides women who have abortions into two categories—the tragic and the damned.”
According to the report:
Choosing to have a child, though, is “a profoundly moral act” signifying “a significant moral commitment to that child to raise it or to place it for adoption,’ she points out, noting that “only 1 percent of women place their children for adoption.”
She even goes so far as to say that only approving of abortions under PRIM circumstances “flies in the face of Jesus’ teaching that he came to bring abundant life.”
“A Christian vision of abundant life requires that we recognize and support the development of healthy and robust families,” she contends. “It requires that we respect women and the moral decisions that they make about their families. A Christian approach to supporting healthy families recognizes that only individual women and their partners are able to determine their ability to parent a child.”
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But even Peters’ PRIM argument is deceptive. She cited a number of conservative Christian denominations that believe abortions are acceptable in some circumstances, writing:
Of the 11 Christian statements included in a 2013 Pew Research Center study, only Roman Catholics state that they oppose abortion in all circumstances. All the other denominations, even the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the Southern Baptist Convention, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), and the Missouri Synod Lutherans concede that abortion is justifiable when a woman’s life is in danger. The LDS, the NAE, and the Episcopalians also specifically mention that rape and incest are considered justifiable reasons to terminate a pregnancy.
Notably absent in her own writing is any mention of a denomination that includes “P” exceptions.
Peters’ “M” exception for the “health” of the mother also is much broader than the denominations’ “life of the mother” exception. Almost all pro-lifers acknowledge that there are some rare, life-threatening circumstances when doctors cannot save both the mother’s and unborn baby’s life, hence the denominations’ exception. However, this is not the same as intentionally ending a precious human life. In such rare circumstances, the objective is to save as many lives as possible, not to kill.
In contrast, Peters’ “health exception” includes basically anything linked to a woman’s health, including finances and relationship problems, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Many Christians also oppose abortions in cases of rape or incest, acknowledging that the perpetrator should be punished, not the unborn child; and both mother and child should be supported. Pro-lifers still have work to do to educate people about the value of the unborn, despite the abusive circumstances of their conception, but the denominations’ misplaced compassion should not be used to justify the killing of unborn babies for any reason up to birth.
Peters’ argument failed at other levels as well. Her overall idea that Christians should “trust women” to make moral decisions about their lives and their children’s also is ridiculous.
“If we truly value women and healthy families, we must accept that ‘I do not want to have a baby’ is an imminently appropriate reason to end a pregnancy,” Peters argued. “And we must trust that pregnant women are the only ones who are capable of making these decisions.”
While Christians believe God gave human beings a free will to decide whether to do good or evil, they also believe certain actions are morally evil – such as killing innocent human beings. Peters almost certainly would not argue that Christians should allow men to beat their wives, or women to neglect their children because of free will. Yet, she claimed Christians should “trust women” with the freedom to kill their own babies before birth.
Christians believe babies in the womb are valuable, living human beings from the moment of conception, and killing innocent human beings is evil.
Peters should take a second look at Scripture to see that, even in ancient times, babies in the womb were viewed as valuable (Luke 1:41), that Jesus placed great value on children when others in society did not (Matthew 19:14), and that one of the things God hates most is the shedding of innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16-17).