Share |

Further Reflections on the Radio Show on Reproductive Choice

The radio show host was intrigued (scandalized? irritated? befuddled?) that I had made a statement at a press conference call that said abortion can be a moral choice and giving birth can be the sin. Apparently, since he views all abortion as murder of a life he totally discounted the first phrase of my sentence as outside the realm of moral possibility. The second half however was his focus. As I indicated on the show however the definition of sin is important here. My definition is that anything that separates us from God and the full, abundant life that God longs for us to live can be categorized as sin. It is a broad definition that is meant to challenge the rigid lines of legalistic and dogmatic definitions based on dichotomies that one usually hears, on this issue particularly. But let me put forth some thought experiments about when giving birth might indeed be a sin.

A Roma girl of eight in Spain is denied an abortion and gives birth. One cannot say that experiencing the trauma of pregnancy and birth is appropriate for a child that young and, because it destroys her innocence, jeopardizes her own health, and catapults her into a premature adulthood, I think that can be considered a sin, that is, not the life God would want for a girl child to have.(This story is documented in the major newspapers and on this website.)

A young girl is raped by her father, forced to give birth, and they keep the child in her family system. She becomes psychotic as a response to dealing with this visible reminder of her victimization. I think this can be considered a sin, that is, creating a situation that exponentially increases the mental trauma of a girl who is already traumatized. This kind of mental anguish and dysfunctional family system cannot be considered God’s plan for our lives. (This real life story came from a minister friend of mine.)

A mother is denied an abortion and forced to give birth even though her health is threatened and she may die as a result. I think this can be considered a sin. Choosing the life of an unborn fetus over the health and possibly the life of the mother is unconscionable. To trade off the life of the mother for the life of a fetus is, for me, a sin. (This is a likely scenario in Pennsylvania if Senate Bill #3 passes as “the health of the mother” is not an exception to the insurance exchange. This bill itself is an attempt to legislatively punish insurance companies and prevent women from paying for abortions with insurance funds or their own money.)

(I met a mother in the abortion clinic who was there because her doctor had said to give birth again would probably kill her. Praise God she was able to make the choice to save her own life.)

And then there are the cases where a decision is made to give birth yet again even though there is not enough food in the house or enough income or emotional stability to care for the children already in the household. This was clearly the angle of the first caller who had worked in an emergency room of a hospital and had seen similar families there. If contraception is available and abortion legal, to knowingly give birth when it will increase suffering is to sin against the other hungry children.

But even with these powerful examples, the issue really isn’t about sin. The issue is judgment. Who decides? Which of us has the right to judge someone else (or to legislate) what decisions they must make about their family size? About the timing and spacing of their children’s birth? About whether or not they can afford another child?

The scripture is pretty definitive on this one. God is the judge. And Protestants are quite clear that we need no other authority to dictate to us what is God’s will because we are each one of us moral agents and accountable before God. Our moral agency stops however at judgment of others’ choices. We have assurances of plenty of grace and forgiveness on God’s part. And we have been given an intellect to think through those choices... for ourselves. 

David, 05-25-11 4:07am:

Add comment

* - required field