Should religion play a role in the abortion and family planning debate?
Father Joseph Tuscan, right, joins others in prayer in front of the Planned Parenthood building in York, Pa., Feb. 14, 2011. The group was part of a national protest to end taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. (AP Photo/York Daily Record, Jason Plotkin)
The U.S. House of Representatives voted last week to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions, along with a variety of health care services for women. The Virginia General Assembly last week approved legislation that requires abortion clinics to be regulated as hospitals, and providers say the stricter regulations will force many of them out of business. Both measures were pushed by anti-abortion activists. Should personal and religious views be allowed to prevent women from having access to a legal medical procedure?
Should a Christian group ever seek having its own moral teachings enacted as secular law? Both Judaism and Christianity, if true to their holy scriptures, are communities established as "holy" communities. That is, they are "set apart" from the world though continuing in the world.
Posted by Gene Davenport, on March 7, 2011 11:48 AM
It is true that an unplanned pregnancy can be an embarrassment, create a severe financial strain, and cause parents (especially the mother) to drop out of school early. That does not justify, under any normal legal analysis, the taking of a life. We do not take it as a justification for homicide, for instance, if an elderly parent strains the finances or psychological balance of a household. In no situation other than abortion does an individual or group of individuals have a right to kill based upon status alone.
Posted by Ronald Rychlak, on March 3, 2011 3:45 PM
Personal religious views cannot and should not prevent a woman from having access to a legal, medical procedure. I trust that left, right, center, religious and secular all agree upon this fundamental principle of our constitution.
As with any moral, ethical, personal or spiritual question, any injunctions or edicts are anathema to a Hindu. It is not that Hinduism is ambiguous in its abhorrence of abortion, but it is always put forth as a matter of choice.
To reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion, we know what works. And it is not simply moral outrage. Countries that have the lowest abortion rates in the world are those that have made contraception most easily available.
If that "legal medical procedure" is the killing of a child, then yes, personal and religious views should be allowed to prevent such an act from taking place. The law's criterion for who receives protection should be the verifiable evidence of science, rather that the subjective criterion of religious belief.
Posted by Fr. Frank Pavone, on March 3, 2011 10:13 AM
All law is a result of people exercising the power they have to put in place the values they have. Of course personal and religious views enter into the picture; that is how peoples' values on both sides of any issue are formed.
Of course religion has a role to play in the public conversation about reproductive health policy....More relevant than the question of what policy role religious institutions have is what standards policy makers should use in evaluating the positions taken by faith leaders and official denominations.
Posted by Frances Kissling, on March 2, 2011 10:26 AM
No wonder the two sides can't hear each other; they're having different conversations. The first claims exclusive knowledge of God's desires; the latter sticks to the language of modernity and relinquishes God to the right wing.
Put simply: medical decisions sometimes involve ethical decisions. Ethical decisions cannot be left to amateur ethicists, such as most medical doctors. That doctors wish to do a thing, can do a thing, and even want to do a thing, does not mean they should do it.
Posted by John Mark Reynolds, on March 1, 2011 1:11 PM
This struggle is really nothing more than an attempt by some religious groups to use the power of the government to impose their dogma about reproduction, sexuality and the beginnings of life. It is way past time for judges and elected officials to start respecting the wall of separation between church and state.
As our society continues to debate the abortion issue, we certainly don't need to wait until we reach consensus on the broader question of their morality to agree on some improvements to current practices.
Too few voices argue that since the capacity for personhood does not exist until the infant brain begins some internal wiring well after birth, the only justifications for imagining that abortion is murder flow solely from personal metaphysics or religious doctrine.
We elect American politicians to uphold our secular Constitution and the laws of the land, including the legal right to abortion. Politicians have the right to worship the god of their choice, but they have no right to restrict the freedom of those who don't share their religious beliefs. That's the opposite of the religious freedom we are all guaranteed.
Posted by Herb Silverman, on March 1, 2011 9:25 AM