I have been writing about the religious aspect of the abortion debate since 2012 in the Columba Missourian and here on InkandVoice. Now there is a new battle in the war on women’s reproductive rights by the right-wing conservative fundamentalist Christians – Fetal Heartbeat Laws.
In Missouri, it is HB 126 introduced by Rep. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon). His proposed fetal heartbeat law, based on a draft bill from Faith2Action and the Christian based American Center for Law and Justice, would prevent an abortion from taking place once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually about six weeks into the pregnancy.
HB 126 specifies that anyone who “knowingly performs or induces an abortion of an unborn child in violation of these provisions, except in the case of a medical emergency, is guilty of a class B felony and is subject to suspension of his or her professional license.” Additionally, the purpose of the bill is that “the intent of the state of Missouri that abortion shall not be permitted in the state under any circumstances” except in a medical emergency.
We must also watch the state of Alabama. Their House of Representatives has passed a near total ban on abortions. The proposed law states that a doctor caught performing abortions would face up to 99 years in prison. Representative Terri Collins, the bill’s sponsor, said that the purpose of his bill is to challenge the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
Both bills are designed to challenge Roe v. Wade in The Supreme Court. Both bills essentially take the right of choice away from the woman. Both bills are invasive to the privacy of the individual to make personal medical decisions.
As I wrote in 2017 in the Missourian, the argument over abortion rights is both secular and sectarian in nature. A drive by the Columbia, Missouri Planned Parenthood facility provides a wonderful example of the religious bent to the argument. Those opposed to any and all abortions ask that we “pray” for the unborn. Some of the placards carry scripture quotes of references. Many churches and religious sects oppose abortions based on scripture. This is the religious argument.
The secular argument is one that undertakes deep thought, personal conviction, and a scientific and philosophical bent. The laws have not kept up with scientific and technical advances so viability outside of the womb comes into question.
According to evangelical minister and author of Costly Grace, the Rev. Robert Schenk, “This is not a question for politicians. When your end goal is a political one, you will, without exception, exploit the pain and the suffering and the agony of those who face the issue in their daily reality, in their real life.”
As Cari Jackson wrote in her commentary, “I support personal choice, guided by individual faith, moral conscience, and life circumstances. For me, being pro-choice is pro-life because focuses holistically on the entirety of individuals’ lives and not solely on pregnancy.”
As a religious issue, abortion should not be debated on the legislative floor. As a religious issue, the choice to keep or abort a pregnancy is a contentious one underlying the root of the problem – how your faith contributes to your life.
Let me be clear on this next point; not all atheists and agnostics are pro-choice. There is a faction, small as it might be, of pro-lifers in the atheist and agnostic communities, conservative in nature and believe that life begins at conception.
As the “nones” increase in number, as those of conservative religious bents lean heavier into the pro-life stance, the arguments will become more intense. The fundamentalist Christian communities believe they are being threatened by secularists in politics and their personal lives. The Nones, including atheists and agnostics, are starting to feel their oats and are more vocal in their support of a woman’s right to choose. It is a fight that will intensify in the next few years.
If one believes that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, there are at least eight references concerning the unborn child. It is a matter of interpretation of scripture as to the actual meaning. I could find nowhere in the Christian Bible or the Quran or the Torah is an accurate statement of when life begins.
All of the biblical verses were written before the science of pregnancy was understood. It was believed that the pregnancy was a gift from God, that the child was “created” in God’s image. The “Good Book” does not speak to the death of a new born child as a punishment from God or that infant death was a common occurrence 2,000 years ago.
Most fundamentalists will not speak to the infant mortality rate before modern medicine. According the National Center for Biotechnical Research, “Infant mortality in the early days of human life would be high, probably 500 infant deaths per 1000.”
If abortion is a religious argument, why is it being taken up by state and federal legislators?
It is a means to gain acceptance from a narrowly defined constituency, religious conservative, who are heavily motivated to vote. Such nonsense must be challenged to secure the rights of women to the privacy of their own decision, whether based on individual faith, moral conscience, or life circumstances.