Abortion is a tragedy
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?
It seems obvious that the question of whether to make abortion legal rests ultimately upon whether the fetus is a human being and, if so, at what point it is or becomes a human being. I do not believe society ever will come to a unanimous conclusion in the matter. Actually, when taken literally, the question involves more than the question of abortion. Whether personal and religious views should be allowed to prevent women from having access to "a legal medical procedure," covers more than the question of abortion. Who is being assumed to do the preventing? (Picky, picky, picky, but were the dominant population of the U.S. to reject vaccinations or blood transfusions, I imagine that many would answer the question differently than they answer with regard to abortion.)
I also assume that the last sentence questions whether the government at any level should make laws based on the religious convictions of one or more groups of people. Assuming I have understood the question correctly, the Constitution prohibits making state or federal law on the basis of the beliefs of any religion or denomination. I see no legal problem with a religious group prohibiting its members from doing any number of things that do not harm other human beings, regardless of what some law or other might prescribe. A member of a religious group that acts contrary to the beliefs or practices of that group should reckon with consequences enacted by the group.
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. They were not intended to be lawmakers for the world. Their communities were to bear witness to life as God intended it. To some extent, the same idea is found in Islam. There is no scriptural basis, therefore, for using the sacred books of Christianity and Judaism as the sources of law outside those communities.
From a biblical perspective, then, the only basis on which the state should prohibit abortion is a purely humanistic one: when is the fetus truly a human being. This, of course, brings us back to the initial question. For it there are no objective, scientific answers, but only those rooted in human opinion. My own opinion is that the fetus is a human being from the moment of conception and that only the risk of the life of the mother should be grounds for abortion. And even then the decision to abort is a tragedy.
Posted by: lepidopteryx | March 7, 2011 3:39 PM
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