Abortion, Politics, and Religion

By Kristen Johnson

Elections in the U.S. always bring about the inevitable discussion surrounding pro-choice/pro-abortion, pro-life, life beginning at conception (or not), the right to privacy (or not), and so on. Unfortunately, the majority of these discussions do not include affected women. In an effort to better understand women who need to make these choices, how they make their choices, etc. I’ve spent the past 20+ years actively seeking to listen to women who have had abortions (and those who decided against it), to read about the subject from both points of view, and to generally educate myself on the subject, rather than listening only to the rantings and ravings of people on both sides of the issue.

My current understanding after all this research is that the political discussion needs to stop altogether. How this became a political issue for men (yes, state legislatures responsible for abortion laws, etc. are majority men) to decide, instead of a private issue between a woman, her God, and her doctor is a mystery. The second understanding that I have gained is that there are many shades of gray in this issue, that it is an intensely private issue, and that we need to listen to women, instead of seeking to judge them. I have recently viewed two documentaries that I highly recommend on the subject. I viewed these films through my own personal lens – coming from a staunchly anti-abortion conservative upbringing, to my current over-the-top liberalism as an adult.

The documentary After Tiller is about the remaining 4 American doctors who continue to provide third trimester abortions. Although it’s certainly not the most uplifting subject in the world, I think it’s necessary viewing for every American. Donald Trump’s assertion that “If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby” – is wildly inaccurate. The stories of the women making heartbreaking decisions about absolutely wanted and loved babies that they are unable to carry to term show the need for compassion in the midst of this incredibly private decision. Again, listening to and seeking to understand affected women is what is needed.

The documentary Trapped details some of the laws in Texas (and other Southern states) that are making it near-impossible for abortions to be provided at all in those areas. Viewers will hear from doctors and providers who are filled with compassion and love for the women they seek to serve. (It is interesting to note the number of church-going Christians who work in this field.) This documentary is also very difficult to watch, because the women who chose to tell their stories come often from a very personal and difficult position.

I cannot possibly make such a decision for someone else, nor can I automatically condemn anyone for it. All I can do is seek to understand, seek to love, and seek to support women.

It doesn’t matter whether or not I am “pro-choice” or “pro-life” – it matters that I love the women who are in a position to need to make this choice. I can only provide compassion and a listening ear and not presume to make a judgment on something so personal.

What is particularly heartbreaking to me personally is when I hear Christians say they have chosen to vote for Donald Trump simply because he claims to be “pro-life.” I am amazed that people can completely ignore absolutely every other thing he stands for that goes completely against everything Jesus teaches us, in an effort to “save babies.” If you wish to save babies, then you need to commit to being “pro-life” and not just “pro-birth” and that’s for a lifetime. Instead of automatically rushing to judgment, ostracizing people, or standing in front of clinics screaming and yelling – spend that time loving people who are affected, volunteering in daycare centers so single mothers can go to work or school, and providing quality social services for women and children. Also, if you really and truly wish for women not to have abortions, then you need to be willing to provide funding for birth control and family planning services.

This is not an easy post to write and I don’t have all the answers.

Ephesians 4:2-3 (NRSV): with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Photo courtesy of:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/jerm182

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8 thoughts on “Abortion, Politics, and Religion

  1. Dear Kristen – what a considered and godly response to a difficult ethical dilemma.
    And a tragic dilemma it is, for a woman faced with the greatest decision she will probably ever be compelled to make. Thank you for presenting this with all the Love of Jesus, and all the Grace of God.

    I have been a (male) midwife for 15 of my 33 years as a Reg Nurse (the middle 15 years).
    I have sat with women faced with this, and helped them, where they were amenable, to come to some kind of godly rationale (but essentially peace) for the situation they faced. I could never have the temerity to pretend I understand – all I can offer is empathy, open ears and mostly, a closed mouth.

    What came through in most cases was the love these women held for their unborn child, and the crushing guilt society sought to foist on them for the rest of their lives.

    Fortunately our God is far greater than the opinions and judgement of mere other transient actors in her predicament. They care not for her … they care not for her child … they care for political correctness and for bolstering their “holier-than-thou” stance.

    Jesus condemned pharisaical pontification, and instead offered a quiet word of hope and – above everything else – unconditional love and peaceful healing.

    Thank you again for the kindly christian you are. I know you didn’t become who you are lightly/easily, and without inner struggle yourself – it can be no other way for one who seeks to live the love and understanding their words teach.

    Indeed, your words and consistent position spiritually, (“serve all with love”) inspire me to aspire to that too. Bless you for your courage and commitment.

    Ivan (Australia)

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    1. Ivan – thank you so much for your thoughtful response. Your kind words truly made my day! And, I completely agree with you on everything – particularly when it comes to unconditional love. If we only did as instructed (love God and neighbor) – wouldn’t our world be a better place?!? Thank you again – I really appreciate your kind words!

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  2. Thank you so much for writing this. It’s rare to encounter genuine compassion in an ultra charged political atmosphere that requires blind obedience on a decision that should always be apolitical. Euphemisms such as “non-negotiable” are code words for “just let us do your thinking for you.” You may as well be living in Borg Empire A fighting against Borg Empire Not-A, or vice versa.

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  3. Indeed yes. Independent thought is inconceivable and “resistance is futile.” Each would have you believe that it’s all very simple and that you would be best served if you would just “shut up and sit down.”
    I am very pleased that my words were encouraging. And thank you for your fine blog 🙂

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    1. And thank you so much for visiting and for your comment. You are absolutely correct…….single mothers who actually carry to term are suddenly free-loading welfare recipients. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Heaven forbid a 15 year old girl suffers the consequences of an unintended pregnancy without any safety net. Let’s just perpetuate poverty through lack of further education or child care for a girl who works at McDonald’s at minimum wage to try to support herself and a child. Yeah, that make perfect sense.

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