Beyond the Abortion Wars

The subject of abortion has been an extremely live one over the last few weeks, as the public has been shocked by a series of secretly recorded videos that have challenged both the legality and the morality of the practices of Planned Parenthood in the US. As Planned Parenthood has come under attack, many of its opponents have understandably been pressed to articulate their alternative and to present a vision that takes seriously the concerns of those who fear that the interests and needs of women will be jeopardized or undermined by any resistance to abortion.

A few months ago, the Mere Fidelity crew had the privilege of interviewing Professor Charles Camosy, the author of the recent book Beyond the Abortion Wars: A Way Forward For a New Generation, which could not be a more timely work for the present context. I wanted to take the opportunity to remind those of you who listened to the podcast of the book, to link to the podcast again, and to link to an Amazon review that I wrote for the book earlier.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Culture, Ethics, In the News, Podcasts, Society. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Beyond the Abortion Wars

  1. Swithun says:

    I’ve been thinking about this recently and I think the most efficacious way of reducing abortions is to convince society that the in-utero person is in fact fully human. To do this we must first establish what a human actually is: we must unambiguous distinction between humans and “higher” animals; also point out that artificial intelligence is impossible due to the fact it does not have inherent teleology- computers correct functioning is predicated on human observation whereas substantial forms functioning, such as trees, are not.

    Following this distinction, it is then obvious that in-utero persons are in fact fully human but their potential is frustrated in a similar way to the paraplegic. If society then believes that in-utero persons are in fact persons then even in the case of stranger back street rape it is much more likely that the woman will keep the child.

    On the legal front, one way to keep more in-utero persons alive to term would be legalise, I assume it is illegal, for organisations to pay the mother to go full term and release the baby to an adoption agency. In the case of rape the mother ought to be compensated over and above a non-conception forming rape.

    On a wider cultural level, the elevating of marriage as the proper place for sex and also more traditional gender roles, their is the argument that a pregnancy will destroy the mother’s career. To this end, the abolition of the welfare state would stop the state acting as husband

    • quinnjones2 says:

      These are fine ideals, but we don’t live in an ideal world. We all get a vote, no matter how much or little we know about anything, or what our moral position is on anything. Our politicians also get just one vote each in parliamentary debates (Congress in US?) no matter how much or how little they know about any given subject, or what their moral position is. I don’t know what the solution is. I just pray as I go and do my limited best and hope for the best (but also half-expect the worst).

  2. evan773 says:

    James Davison Hunter once remarked that “debate” on abortion is impossible until the two sides get beyond the sales pitches and discuss the issues that really concern them. I’ve spent my life among evangelicals. I have never been persuaded by evangelicals’ claims to care about the lives of unborn children. For evangelicals, abortion is about keeping women in a subordinate position; it is about the “purity culture” and “kept womanhood.” Is it any wonder that the most vocal evangelical opponents of abortion are those who cannot separate the Gospel from the practice of hierarchical gender roles? I think not.

    • Thanks for the comment. I am sorry that this has been your take away from your experience among evangelicals. It has not been my own. In my experience, evangelicals do care about the unborn and regard the culturally tolerated killing of them as a grave evil. This naturally puts them in direct confrontation and antagonism with the ideology of sexual autonomy and equality for which abortion is an essential bulwark of liberty.

      • evan773 says:

        That may well be the case in the UK. It is not in the US. In fact, discussions about the sanctity of life didn’t even start to emerge until nearly a decade after anti-abortion activism heated up. The Religious Right in the US, after all, did not coalesce around the issue of abortion; it coalesced around opposition to government threats to take away the tax-exempt status of evangelical colleges that refused to integrate racially.

    • Philipp says:

      Evan, I cannot reply to your second post, I’m afraid, because of the blog settings, but I wonder what evidence you have for your historical assertions. While I do not doubt that there are right-wing racists, that charge is in my experience often just a nasty bit of leftist well-poisoning meant to distract from the actual terms of the contemporary debate: a few leftover Klansmen by no means outweigh the massive commitment that the modern ‘Religious Right’ has shown to the right-to-life movement, and we should not pretend that it does.

      I can certainly attest, as a person who has grown up in US evangelical churches of various stripes, that the evangelicals I have known care far more about the babies than they do about any ‘purity culture’. Indeed, I have often heard evangelicals (including both pastors and laypeople) lament that too much pressure is put upon women and, conversely, laud those who did not kill their unborn children, however they were conceived. Granted, your friends may be different from mine, but I would ask you this: how do you propose to deal with abortion without encouraging men and women to marry before they have children (or do what naturally produces them)–i.e. without advocating some form (however carefully expressed) of ‘purity culture’? And how would you counsel people to marry without teaching them what the Bible teaches about marriage (which does include a certain measure of what you disparage as ‘hierarchical gender roles’)? Some churches doubtless approach these things in an unhealthy way (though I know of no church that would ever advocate having a ‘kept woman’, i.e. a concubine), but I do not think they are commonly over-emphasized in evangelical culture–or, if they are, can our brethren really be blamed for over-reacting to a culture as licentious and inimical to healthy marital relationships as our own?

  3. quinnjones2 says:

    Hi Evan,
    I don’t know the evangelicals you know, so I can’t comment on them.
    I can comment on evangelical opponents of abortion I know personally – I live in the UK. One is a Christian friend whose own mother tried to abort her. In her young adulthood, having trained as a midwife, this friend perceived newborn infants as ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ by God. She realised, to use her own words, that she herself was ‘God’s idea’ and that He created her, and loved her more than her mother ever could.
    Another is a man who used to work in a well-paid job in industry. When he saw his first child, a daughter, being born, he felt deeply humbled, deeply thankful, and he was in awe – he realised that that there was a creative power much bigger that either him or his wife. He became a Christian, left his well-paid job, and worked in a lower-paid job with ex-offenders. His wife recently became a lay reader and he supports her ministry fully. She decided against ordination because she believes in male headship of the church.
    I find it difficult to understand women who object to ‘pro-life’ men. What offends me is a comment such as this one made by a man I know about a woman: ‘What does she expect? He offered to pay for an abortion when she got herself pregnant – he did the decent thing.’

    • evan773 says:

      I’m speaking of the movement generally. Consider that Donald Trump is the most favored candidate for President among American evangelicals.

      Yes, I generally find evangelicals in the UK to be much more like genuine Christians. I walked away from the evangelical church about a year ago. I found that my secular friends at work or in sports clubs were much more faithful in their friendship to me than the people I met at church. The folks at church were much more interested in fighting the Culture Wars and talking about right-wing politics. In the US, “evangelicals” are much more of a sociological demographic than a religious movement.

      • quinnjones2 says:

        HI, Evan,
        Thank you for replying. I am so sorry that your evangelical church was such a bad experience for you. I have never been to the US, but from I have heard and from what I have gleaned from Twitter, differences between evangelicals and liberals are much more extreme and politicised in the US than in the UK. It sounds as if the evangelicals you knew did not help their own cause very much – they seem to have alienated some of the very people they want to convince.
        I was thankful when I got to hear about Charles Camozy via Mere Fidelity because he seemed to talk more about what he was ‘for’ than about what (or whom) he was ‘against’ and he was nuanced in his thinking. It also did me good to listen to the podcast. I feel encouraged by the Mere-Fi team (and others on Twitter) and by their attitudes to the unborn – it makes a refreshing change from those men who seem to have a ‘throw-away’ attitude both to women and to the unborn. As I see it, the men with the ‘throw-away’ attitude ironically seem to think that they are doing women a favour in the name of ‘liberty’. (‘No strings’ and so on)
        I realise that none of what I have written above actually helps you in your situation in the US, but I do pray that God will open doors for you and that you will come alongside people you described above as ‘genuine Christians’ and will be able to enjoy fellowship with them.

  4. Pingback: Artificial Intelligence: Conscience and Consciousness | More Enigma Than Dogma

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