What’s Right in Our Own Eyes

Is it possible to reconcile one's faith with a belief in the right to abortion? A group called the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice thinks it's more than possible; it's needed. Not long ago, the coalition held an event at the Capitol to promote its new book, Between a Woman and Her God: Clergy and Women Tell Their Stories -- A Sourcebook for Legislators, Clergy, and Activists. In the book's foreword, Reverend Howard Moody, founder of the group's Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, writes, "If 'right to life' is simply a crusader slogan and what is really meant is the 'right to be born,' then our religious traditions speak to this issue. In my own religious understanding, being born was never seen as anything but a gift -- a miraculous, marvelous surprise present -- a gift of God. To speak of being born as a 'right' jars the sensibilities. We are born (hopefully) of a woman's free will and human intention, at the cost of real physical pain and nourishing care, and that birth ought never be forced, compelled or mandated by another person or the state itself. Rights begin with birth -- they are a birthday present -- hence 'birthright.'" To speak of life as a gift sounds perfectly reasonable on its face, because, of course, life is a gift from God. The problem with Moody's argument that I have just given you is that life begins not with birth, but at conception. Thus, the person in the womb is entitled to the same civil rights you and I enjoy. In the Roe v. Wade decision, the justices said they couldn't tell when life began. Today, with ultrasound, we can. We know that life exists in the womb. So the pro-life movement is talking about protecting living persons. No argument, however smooth or logical-sounding, can get around that fact. But this sleight-of-hand reasoning is typical of the book. Many clergy tell their stories of helping women and girls obtain abortions and sometimes stories of their own abortions. All of them show a concern for women's health and well- being which is commendable (though there is no concern for the child in the womb). What isn't commendable is their belief that health and well-being for women demands legalized abortion. And what's downright deplorable is that so many of these people who claim to speak for their faiths are speaking only for themselves. Much in this book is based on feelings; very little is based on fact, reason, or certainly not on religious doctrine. One member of the group, Reverend Dr. Roselyn Smith-Withers, states, "If [abortion] is the decision a woman has to make, I believe firmly that God is with her in that moment." I believe that too. But I don't believe that that means that God approves of a decision that explicitly violates His own revealed truth about the value of human life. The trap this group has fallen into is a trap that poses a danger to all Christians. We're all sometimes tempted to claim that what seems right to us must be what God wants. The lesson of the book Between a Woman and Her God isn't that abortion can be justified in God's eyes -- it can't be. The lesson is that some people will go to any lengths to justify what they want.


Chuck Colson


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