Abortion, Gun Control and Other False Choices

The long season of Pennsylvania’s primary discontent is now coming to a blessed close. Marred by candidate stumbles, the six-week … Continued

The long season of Pennsylvania’s primary discontent is now coming to a blessed close.

Marred by candidate stumbles, the six-week trek through the Keystone State also put the spotlight on Pennsylvania’s Democratic party maverick, Sen. Robert Casey, Jr.

Why are there not more Democratic leaders like this anti-abortion, anti-Iraq-war Catholic native son who is vocal about his concern for working people and for economic justice? In a party that professes to care for the oppressed and the powerless, politicians who advocate for fetal life are few and far between.

The lack of articulate voices from the left advocating for a consistent life ethic, or the sacredness of life from conception to grave, illustrates the rampant individualism that seems so endemic to the American character.

In its relentless focus on one particular woman and her “right” to terminate a pregnancy, the position taken by Democratic Party frontliners is also profoundly out of step with a Christian perspective in which decisions are weighed with community welfare in mind.

In his first letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul called that turbulent congregation to greater care for each other. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (I Cor. 12:26).

The Jesus I meet in the Gospels is much less concerned with individual welfare than with the spiritual and physical health of the community.

As I interpret these ancient Scriptures in the context of the contemporary abortion debate, I can’t help but conclude that the fetus, as well as the mother and father, must have a voice, an advocate, a metaphorical seat at the table when decisions are made.

In the party’s obsession with the notion of individual choice, the Democrats and their allies on the Christian left eerily echo conservatives in the Christian right and their stance on gun control laws.

Take away our right to unfettered abortions, and you will soon reduce women to slavery. Take away our guns, and you will put us at the mercy of the enemies who howl at our door.

These positions have very little to do with faith — and a lot to do with fear.

The two Democratic candidates have been vocal about the ways in which their faith traditions and values inform their decisions.

Yet they seem captive to the reigning orthodoxy that will not allow any room for dialogue, let alone a third way.

In the Illinois State Senate, Obama voted against a bill to ban late-term abortions, a position that puts him out of synch with the majority of the American public. Clinton has repeated the mantra that abortions should be “safe, legal and rare,” while doing relatively little to make that a reality.

The candidate’s positions do not reflect the reality on the ground — that while Americans favor keeping abortion legal, they continue to want to limit easy access by imposing constraints, some quite rigorous.

Which bring us back to Casey, and his principled attempt to build a consensus based on the greater community good.

Late last year, he sponsored a Senate bill that would move to support pregnant women before and after they give birth, provide tax credits for those who adopt, and help pregnant students stay in school.

It would be wonderful if politicians, clergy, and people of faith were able to look beyond ideology by working for that a time when pregnant women can make a decision based on the health of two lives in the knowledge that they will have access to the help they so indisputably need.
Doing so would be one step towards healing the national wound so deeply rooted in the false rhetoric of “choice” versus “life.”

After more than two hundred years, it is high time that believers, particularly Christians, seek common cause on behalf of the weak, vulnerable and voiceless ones, both born and not yet born.

Jesus hasn’t left His post. Perhaps it is we who have wandered.

Elizabeth E. Evans is a freelance writer, columnist and Episcopal priest who lives and writes in Glenmoore, Pa.

Elizabeth Evans
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  • Mr Mark

    And yet, the Bible is pro-abortion. There are many verses where the practice is allowed. In fact, Yahweh calls for the murder of women who are with child.I’d post the various verses here, but they never make it through the censors. You’ll have to look them up yourself.

  • harold

    And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.“Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel”Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.“his praise in the congregation of saints.”And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.“but will lay them upon all them that hate thee”What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.“I command you, observe to do it”“nor diminish from it.”And the Lord thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.“God will put all these curses upon thine enemies”“Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel”“I command you, observe to do it”“one member be honoured”“all the members rejoice with it”

  • Athena

    Oh, here we go again with the abortion thing… I would like to ask Ms. Evans how many children in foster care that she is taking care of. Or, better yet, how many unwanted babies that are brought to term then put into dumpsters is she willing to take care of? Or if she would like her taxes raised to support government sponsored pre-natal care for all pregnant women? I’m all for cutting down the number of abortions. But it has to remain a legal medical option for a variety of reasons – including the procedure that has been mis-labeled as “partial birth” abortion, which is only done in less than 1% of the late term abortions in the US, usually in the case of the mother’s life being threatened, or the fetus will not live outside of the uterus. As for Sen. Casey, I’m glad to finally have an anti-choice politician who cares about babies AFTER they are born. The rest of the anti-choice crowd could care less about the fetus once it comes through the birth canal.

  • Norm Abrahamson

    Ms. Evans: Why even frame the abortion debate in view of the Jesus you “meet in the gospels.” Many (most?) of us don’t take our marching orders from Jesus, and lifting a line from the scriptures to support any position is a parlor trick used by people on all sides of any ethical issue. Doesn’t a thinking person who is opposed to abortion, and their numbers are legion, have reasons other than a pithy quote attributed to Jesus? It is unreasonable to bemoan that on the right and left “. . . positions have very little to do with faith — and a lot to do with fear” while at the same time framing the debate on religious principles. Religious arguments by their nature lend themselves to hysterics and are inoculated against compromise. The idea of examining the abortion issue in view of “the spiritual and physical health of the community” is interesting. I have to wonder what you mean by the “spiritual” health of a community. As an Episcopal priest, do you use “spiritual” as a synonym for the Episcopal sect; a broader view of Christianity; or does it have no religious connotation? Would the discussion be different if abortion was discussed in view of the “emotional and physical health of a community?” How is the emotional health of a woman affected by being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term? How is the community at large affected by the addition of unwanted children? These are questions that can be examined without resorting to religious doctrine. Discussing abortion as the question of terminating a pregnancy or following God’s will is yet another “false choice.”