How Can a Pastor be Pro-Choice?

Well, as long as I am putting myself out there (referring to my post yesterday), several people messaged me and asked how I could be a pastor and support a pro-choice candidate. So I might as well just tell all…

When I lived in DC, I was part of a mother’s group that filed a law suit (and won) against Georgetown Hospital. It was sort of the opposite situation, but still over matters of whether the mother has the right to make her own decisions that concern her body. The mother had cancer and was barely twenty weeks pregnant. This was back in the early ’90s and babies didn’t generally live when delivered so early. The doctors decided she was going to die soon and wanted to take the baby by c-section. She said no because she believed that she would live long enough for the baby to be more viable. But the doctors along with the Jesuits who run the hospital got a court order to do an immediate c-section.

Her husband and parents asked the judge to support the mother’s wishes and he said no. As they were taking her to the operating room, she begged them not to do the c-section for a few more weeks. The mother had a heart attack on the operating table and died. The doctors didn’t even try to save the baby after they saw the conditions of the lungs and gave it to the father. The baby’s lungs were not viable and it died in less than 30 min in the father’s arms.I don’t think the government should have been involved in that decision – in my opinion, that was her decision alone. Perhaps she would have lived long enough for the baby to survive. Or maybe even brought the baby to term – perhaps she would still be alive – miracles do happen – who knows? From that experience I became very convinced that a woman should not have to go to court to make a decision that affects her body.

I apply this experience to when a pregnant mother’s life is in danger and in cases of rape. In my opinion, it is not for the government to decide if carrying a baby is a big enough health risk or not. That is her decision. Nor do I think she should have to prove if she was raped or not.  She has to have the last word on that determination too.

I’d encourage anyone with a viable child who is considering an abortion not to have one and I would try to help them afford the cost of raising a child or adoption. But in the end, I would support her decision 100%.  And I do not think the government should have control over her. So I support laws that are pro-choice.  These laws do not cause abortions. No one makes anyone have an abortion (except for this woman’s doctors and the hospital Jesuits in the case I just talked about!).

The good news is that because of the lawsuit, in the District of Columbia, women have now been safe from their doctors or hospitals seeking court ordered care for them for about twenty years now.

You can leave a comment on the blog by clicking below the other comments.

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  • JH: I’m in agreement with you about this. I do not think Government should decide about these issues. How terrible that a mother’s life, & that of her baby were so violated. Can only image how this made her husband, & family feel, to have this memory. Thanks for sharing with us & look forward to more of your sharings.
  • JTR:  I really appreciate this. Such a difficult and heart breaking topic. And such a slippery, slippery slope. As a freedom lover and supporter of the individual, I understand being Pro-Choice. But as a Christian, knowing that millions of babies have been aborted breaks my heart. I know many factors go into a woman’s decision, but I just wish for more education, more options, free birth control (I’d gladly support my tax $ going to BC over abortions any day) and a stronger culture of LIFE. It is so damaging emotionally and culturally. So sad.
  • DN: Thank you April for your candor and honesty in sharing your heart the past few days! Although we may have some fundamental disagreements I respect your experiences and conclusions and love you in Christ even more! Blessings, Darryl.
  • BC: A wonderful example about how complicated this issue is and how a black and white response just is not adequate to make very difficult and informed decisions.
  • BSH: I agree as well, though I would go further and say that religion should not interfere with a woman’s choice if she is not a believer. Each person should have the right to decide what to believe, or not, without another imposing their religious beliefs on him/her. I realize there is a vast difference between sharing faith and demanding others follow it; we see way too much of the latter when there are so many gentle souls who do the former.
  • KRS: The Federal Government controls more and more of our lives each year in ways unwanted on both sides. It was never intended to be like this. The Constitution and Bill of Rights is clear but largely ignored. Their job description is simple and they have no business doing most of what they do. Making every issue a National “all or nothing issue” is driving this Country apart.
  • April Love-Fordham:  KRS – Steve and I are just finishing a class that we have to take to adopt an older child. At one of the earlier classes, the teacher led us through what happens when parental rights are finally taken away from the parents and the child declared free for adoption. It is a fairly long and complicated process where the government tries very hard to keep the child with the parents. She asked us if we were the judge presiding over a particular family what we would require of the parents in order to keep their children. One very well intentioned man said that they would make them go to church. Now the government can’t impose religion on a person and personally I think that is a very good thing. The teacher explained this to the man. 
    But at the same time, the suggestion made the teacher so angry for another reason. She said, “If churches were doing their job, then there wouldn’t be any children that need adoption!” She pointed a very angry finger at the class saying “How many of your churches invite vulnerable people into your church and care for them as if those people were Jesus?” That is what scripture tells us to do. Then she asked, “How many of you have even spoken to a person in need this past week? This past month?” She said if we did the work of Christ that there would be no need for government programs.
    In truth, most churches harm – not help – the vulnerable populations. So I guess my answer is this… when you and I start loving those vulnerable people without condition, befriending them instead of judging them, living next door to them instead of moving into gated communities, then the government won’t have to be involved. Until then, I am glad we (still) have a government that will step up and do what isn’t their job, but what is right. And if that means I pay higher taxes, live in a smaller house, drive and older cheaper car, I am okay with that too.
  • KRS: I don’t mind paying local and State taxes. They do a pretty good job.
  • DM:  Amen, April. The story you shared is horrific, and one more example of why this is not a black and white issue. I agree with the teacher. We Christians have no right to judge. We sometimes confuse our job with God’s. God commanded us to LOVE! He is the only judge.
  • MP: A friend of mine from high school died giving birth, leaving her husband to raise their four young children alone. They knew her last pregnancy was high-risk, but she refused to have an abortion. I respect her choice. But the next woman who’s faced with a high-risk pregnancy should have a choice to end it. And she shouldn’t have to prove a certain degree of risk to some government bureaucrat; it should just be her choice. Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote recently about how his girlfriend almost died from peripartum cardiomyopathy, even though the doctors had not previously realized her pregnancy was high-risk.
    But I think, April, you’ve really put your finger on the real question: when there are no children waiting to be adopted, when there are no children dying of starvation or preventable disease–ANYWHERE–THEN maybe we can START to re-examine abortion. I’m not holding my breath.  http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/10/pregnancy-as-labor/264070/

3 Comments on “How Can a Pastor be Pro-Choice?

  1. I too am a Christian, and pray that abortions no longer are needed. But first we must begin loving our neighbors – Back before Roe V Wade, my mother tells her story where the fetus she was carrying died at a late stage in the pregnancy. The doctors were worried about the legal consequences of abortion and decided to wait for the baby to self abort. She nearly died, but by the grace of God she survived and grew a family of 5 children. Thank God I am one of those kids. No government should tell a woman or man what to do with their bodies. They can never address all the issues that impact these decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this April. The ironic thing is that studies have shown that prohibitions against abortion have very little impact on the number of abortions performed. Countries with the lowest rates of abortion, Western Europe, are also those with the most liberal abortion laws. They also happen to be the countries where the government provides the most pre and post natal support, so whether or not a woman chooses to have an abortion is not an economic decision. If the church cared about limiting the number of abortions, why isn’t it advocating for more financial support for women with young
    children?

    Liked by 1 person

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