Women are not moral morons! Abortion is not always a sin.
The Supreme Court just leaked a draft of a decision that would overturn Roe vs. Wade and return access to abortion to states. Many Christians are firmly opposed to abortion under any circumstances and that principle should govern their decisions as individuals. However, many other Christians affirm the necessity of women having access to a whole range of options, including termination of pregnancy, in order to live in a way that honors them, their existing relationships, and their relationship with God.
We write as members of the SUNY New Paltz community, Director of the Student Christian Center and Episcopal Campus Ministry. Episcopal and Methodist denominations
- assert the sanctity of all human life, which includes the mother and not just the developing fetus
- discourage the use of abortion as a means of birth control or eugenic selection, and encourage the use of effective methods of preventing pregnancies
- encourage robust and medically accurate education around sex education, birth control, and sexuality
- assert the fundamental ability of women to make the most faithful decision for themselves, their family, and their potential new life
- urge prayer and consultation with church leaders and medical professionals when considering decisions about reproductive rights and termination.
In over forty years of combined pastoral ministry, we have learned that life is messy. We know from the depth of our hearts and the breadth of our experiences that moral decisions are hard. The life of a pregnant woman and the life growing within her are inextricably linked, and must be considered together. An unborn child doesn’t exist in isolation—he or she needs an environment before and after birth that will sustain life. We have walked with women who would have died without access to safe abortions, and women who have died because of unsafe attempts to terminate a pregnancy. We have walked with women who chose to keep an unintended pregnancy, even in cases of rape and incest. And women who chose to offer their newborns up for adoption. And women who chose to terminate pregnancies, even much wanted pregnancies, because their family, their marriage, or their health would be irreparably harmed if the pregnancy were to continue.
Sometimes the birth of another child tips an already fragile balance of family life. We have walked with families whose children who needed to be taken from their birth mothers because of abuse or neglect. We have seen mothers abandon their infants and flee. We have seen young siblings who were left at a welfare office and watched their mother leave with just the baby. Many women regret needing to end a pregnancy; many women also regret the decision to bring a child into an already overwhelming situation. The ongoing decisions around family life are often difficult and fraught, but when women have made the decision for themselves, they are empowered, and it is easier to live with intended and unintended consequences.
Our theology comes from a commitment to following Jesus who
•commanded us to love God and our neighbors as ourselves;
•chided hard-hearted husbands and judgmental religious leaders;
• condemned the systems and practices that took food from the mouths of widows, orphans, and the poor (by extension, we believe Jesus would condemn systems that disadvantage poor women and women of color in the US now, and fail to provide access to healthcare for all)
• respected women and promoted their dignity and well-being,
• had compassion on women making the most life giving of choices among dangerous and death dealing options.
Our faith leads us to stand with Planned Parenthood, whose slogan is that abortions should be “safe, legal, and rare.” We can be reached for further discussion at firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com.
The Rev. Dr. Allison Moore, Episcopal Campus Ministry
Pastor Rebecca Patterson, Student Christian Center