New South Wales should “trust women” to decide if they want their unborn babies killed in abortions, a Uniting church minister argued this week.
Writing in The Guardian, the Rev. Dr. Margaret Mayman advocated for the repeal of the Australian state’s criminal code that prohibits abortions. The NSW parliament appears poised to repeal the code and allow unborn babies to be aborted for basically any reason up to birth.
Mayman, a pastor who also teaches ethics, argued that killing unborn babies “can be a morally good choice.”
“… unlike some religious voices in this space, I consider that the choice for abortion can be a morally good choice, and that it is morally wrong to coerce a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy,” she wrote.
“I contend that recognizing the moral agency of women, the capacity of women to make good decisions about whether or not to continue a pregnancy, is crucial for human flourishing, which should be the goal of religion,” Mayman continued.
But her argument ignores one human being in favor of the other’s supposed “flourishing.” Scientifically, it is well accepted that an unborn baby is a living, unique human being starting at conception. If the purpose of religion is human flourishing, how can Mayman support the violent destruction of certain human beings? Her argument does not make sense.
The minister also implied that those who oppose the killing of unborn babies in abortions ultimately just want to control women.
The New South Wales parliament is considering whether a 1900 law that criminalised abortion is appropriate for its regulation in 2019.
In 1900 it was widely accepted that women’s bodies and women’s sexuality were appropriately controlled by patriarchal power inherent in government, medicine, religion, and family life. The 1900 legislation was influenced by the racist ideology of eugenics in response to declining birthrates and claims that “selfish” white women were using abortion to control fertility.
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Later, she added, “Condemnation of abortion, when it does occur in Christian teaching, was part of a broader rejection of non-procreative sex, and associated with abusive practices of punishing women for sex outside of marriage.”
She also suggested that if Christian and political leaders really want to help women and children, they would work to end poverty and violence instead of abortion.
Mayman’s thinking is full of holes. Her arguments do not match up with the fact that many, many women oppose abortions – and are some of the strongest advocates against it. Polls consistently show that most women oppose most abortions.
She also failed to acknowledge that pro-life advocates are working to help women and children escape from poverty and abuse as well as end abortions. Though pregnancy centers, maternity homes, adoption agencies and other charities, pro-life advocates are empowering women to choose life for their babies and walking beside them as they parent.
Ultimately, Mayman ignored the fact that some choices are wrong. A good society, a good religion, does not simply allow all human beings to choose to do anything they want without consequences or condemnation. Choices that hurt other human beings by infringing on their basic rights are wrong, and should be prohibited.
An abortion kills a human being – an innocent, defenseless child who depends on his/her mother to grow. Choosing life for that child may not always be easy, but that does not make it any less right.