Choice: Let the People Say, “Amen”


Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of posts reporting from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’s National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality.

“And God made them in God’s
image. Male and Female God created them.”

“And Adam knew Eve and she
bore a son saying, ‘I have born a man with the help of
God.’”

I believe that God is
Pro-Faith, Pro-Family and Pro-Choice. That is the good news I am bringing
Friday to clergy and laity at the National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality,
the conference convened by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
Given that God had created both men and women, when one considers the
reproductive process from a biblical/theological perspective one has to conclude
that God, in fact, made the first choice. God chose, between these two humans,
to hide the mystery of reproduction inside the woman.

Eve proclaims that what she
has done was with the “help of God.” Thus, God and women are partners in the
reproductive process and the woman is not a silent partner but a partner with
voice and vote!

When one considers
reproduction from a biological perspective it is understood that this
partnership often does not succeed. Miscarriage
(often
with the woman unaware) is the fate of the overwhelming number of pregnancies.

We consider that a
miscarriage has no moral content because we attribute it to God/nature. We say,
“God/nature knew that the fetus would not survive.” Thus we accept that the
process of human gestation was interrupted by natural forces. But if women are
partners with God then do they not also have moral authority to interrupt the
process of human gestation? Do they not have the moral authority to act when
they know that the fetus will not survive? Oh, but when she does it we don’t
call it a miscarriage we call it an abortion.

We the 15 denominations and
faith traditions who comprise the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
have come together to support women who face this very difficult decision. To
empower women with the moral authority they inherently possess and to confer
upon them the moral support of their faith communities.

If human beings took
anything out of the Garden of Eden it was free will. Many submit that it is the
free will of human beings that most reflects the image of God. We certainly
don’t look like God.

When a woman is faced with a
medical complication so severe that the choice is between the life of the fetus
and her own life, she not only has the moral authority to choose her own life
but in regard to her other children who depend on her, her husband who loves
her, her family who need her and her God who created her, she has a moral
obligation to choose life.

When a woman has been robbed
of her God-given free will by the violence of rape, she not only has the moral
authority to reclaim her will by choosing her own life but a moral obligation to
determine for herself whether, when, and how many children to bear.

And when a government seeks
to deprive a woman of the free will of her conscience, given to her by God, and
legislates that, should she not bring every pregnancy to full term delivery, she
has committed a crime and shall be punished by a levy against her resources and
the imprisonment of her body, she and we have a spiritual, moral and civic duty
to resist, defy, and deny that government’s attempts to convert her womanhood
into a means of production for its political economy. We the people of the
United States of
America must repel those among us who would
diminish the humanity of any of our citizens by the coercion of their very
persons for purposes alien to their conscience, dangerous to their health and in
contradiction to their faith. Let the people say, “Amen.”

This sermon on reproductive
choice was originally delivered at the First Freedom First national
teleconference.

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  • http://www.danwegner.org invalid-0

    What utter foolishness! The test of a good moral position is whether the premise works in other similar situations. It also must take into account any pre-existing moral absolutes – which can be difficult to establish in such a relativistic society. That aside, let’s look at the spurious claims of the article:

    Eve proclaims that what she has done was with the “help of God.” Thus, God and women are partners in the reproductive process and the woman is not a silent partner but a partner with voice and vote!

    If one accomplishes anything with “the help of God” and then destroys that thing unilaterally – without a clear command, they have sinned against the work of God. Abortion is a sin against, and the destruction of, the work of God.

    We consider that a miscarriage has no moral content because we attribute it to God/nature. We say, “God/nature knew that the fetus would not survive.” Thus we accept that the process of human gestation was interrupted by natural forces. But if women are partners with God then do they not also have moral authority to interrupt the process of human gestation? Do they not have the moral authority to act when they know that the fetus will not survive? Oh, but when she does it we don’t call it a miscarriage we call it an abortion.

    Spontaneous abortion (commonly called “miscarriage”) is considered a natural evil – a result of the fall. Ask any mother who has left an ultrasound appointment devastated by the loss of their developing child. While we find comfort that God has a greater good that is yet to be recognized from this evil, we can no more call this good than we can call death by leukemia good.

    The idea that because fetuses die apart from human destruction, we should allow the human destruction of fetal human life, is absolutely and frighteningly misguided. It concludes that any result from natural causes can be effected by human causes. Since trees naturally fall on people, we can push trees onto people. Or, since humans die of natural causes at 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, or 456 months from conception, we should be able to kill them.

    When a woman is faced with a medical complication so severe that the choice is between the life of the fetus and her own life, she not only has the moral authority to choose her own life but in regard to her other children who depend on her, her husband who loves her, her family who need her and her God who created her, she has a moral obligation to choose life.

    The woman is never free to choose the destruction of the fetus – who has just as much right to life as she does, though through the principle of double effect she may choose to save her life with the undesired effect of killing her unborn child. This is paramount to choosing to jump out of the way of a speeding truck instead of sacrifice her life by pushing her young child out of the way.

    If human beings took anything out of the Garden of Eden it was free will. Many submit that it is the free will of human beings that most reflects the image of God. We certainly don’t look like God.

    The core message of the Garden is not what we left with but why we left. We were banished! We listened to that lie that we were above God’s law. That we could become a better us apart from God than with God. That we belonged to ourselves alone and not to God. “Keep God’s laws off my body!”

    When a woman has been robbed of her God-given free will by the violence of rape, she not only has the moral authority to reclaim her will by choosing her own life but a moral obligation to determine for herself whether, when, and how many children to bear.

    Now the author is just getting silly. A rape victim has not been robbed of her free will, her will has been horrifically violated – as has her body. If her free will was robbed, then, as the author stated, she would lose one of her God-like qualities (it is possible the author is being poetic or rhetorical or something). We reject that she has lost her God-like quality. In addition, this is completely unrelated to how many children she bears or chooses to bear. No matter what the circumstances she has a moral obligation to do good and avoid evil. And while some evils done to a person leave an indelible mark on the victim’s life, one cannot simply clean up the crime scene and move on. Contrary to popular belief, children are an immeasurable good – even under the most inconceivable (no pun intended) circumstances – and never a “mistake”.

    And when a government seeks to deprive a woman of the free will of her conscience… and shall be punished by a levy against her resources and the imprisonment of her body

    What rhetorical bunk! Every current political effort is focused at the punishment of those profiteers who use vulnerable women as a financial opportunity.

    …she and we have a … duty to resist…that government’s attempts to convert her womanhood into a means of production for its political economy.

    I’m not sure how an economy differs from a “political economy”, but the author, as a black man, whose race is exterminated at three times the rate of white women, is barking up the wrong tree. I would think that any person concerned with political trends that affect black Americans, the eradication of abortion would be at the top of the list. As a white man I believe I care more about the hearts, soul and future of black America that he does. The founder of Planned Parenthood, the number one provider of abortions in America, was founded by Margaret Sanger, an avowed proponent of eugenics, with “undesirable races” as her target. She’s winning and minorities are cheering her on with their Uncle Tom “Amens!” (do I have your attention?) They should be ashamed of themselves for being suckered by the siren songs of the Clintons, Kerrys, and Pelosis who will bribe them for their votes, speak in their churches and never bat an eye when black young women line up at the abortion mills. That’s because they too have a dream for America but it will never include a black majority. They will sterilize every single Black American before they ever let that happen (see blackgenocide.org).

    The pro abortion position is untenable for a Christian or a minority. It’s a position for the Utopian dreamer who sees pleasure and convenience as their God. But the over-comer, the one who follows Christ, recognizes she or he must overcome obstacles, like their Lord, and not be shaped by them.

  • invalid-0

    Witness this:

    If one accomplishes anything with “the help of God” and then destroys that thing unilaterally – without a clear command, they have sinned against the work of God. Abortion is a sin against, and the destruction of, the work of God.

    Without a “clear command”? Should the woman look for a burning bush and ask it what to do? I am constantly amazed at those anti-abortion people who think they not only know what an invisible deity wants-but the deity always wants what THEY want.

    Or this:

    The woman is never free to choose the destruction of the fetus – who has just as much right to life as she does, though through the principle of double effect she may choose to save her life with the undesired effect of killing her unborn child.

    No legal document in America recognizes a “right” to be born. Any attempt to force this into law via political/judicial activism would be unconstitutional because it violates the woman’s right to bodily autonomy.

    And this:

    The core message of the Garden is not what we left with but why we left. We were banished! We listened to that lie that we were above God’s law. That we could become a better us apart from God than with God. That we belonged to ourselves alone and not to God. “Keep God’s laws off my body!”

    The story of the Garden of Eden is a just a allegory, an attempt to explain to people why certains things just were. Allegorical stories to explain the ways of the world are common throughout religion-extinct and still extant ones.

    Finally, this:

    The founder of Planned Parenthood, the number one provider of abortions in America, was founded by Margaret Sanger, an avowed proponent of eugenics, with “undesirable races” as her target. She’s winning and minorities are cheering her on with their Uncle Tom “Amens!” (do I have your attention?) They should be ashamed of themselves for being suckered by the siren songs of the Clintons, Kerrys, and Pelosis who will bribe them for their votes, speak in their churches and never bat an eye when black young women line up at the abortion mills. That’s because they too have a dream for America but it will never include a black majority. They will sterilize every single Black American before they ever let that happen (see blackgenocide.org).

    Let’s talk “rhetorical bunk”. Seriously. The charge of “black genocide” must be the latest tactic of the anti-abortion industry. The latest tactic which is failing, that is.

    The anti-abortion position is anti-woman, anti-family, and anti-sex; but very pro-punishment. It’s untenable for American citizens, wether Christian or not.

  • http://www.danwegner.org invalid-0

    My comments were directed to/from a Judeo-Christian vantage point. So yes, if you believe that there is no divinely revealed truth, my statements would have no traction with you. Having said that, your statements are merely your opinion and you offer nothing whatsoever in the form of substantiation. For instance:

    No legal document in America recognizes a “right” to be born. Any attempt to force this into law via political/judicial activism would be unconstitutional because it violates the woman’s right to bodily autonomy.

    You throw out the right to birth as though it’s some constitutionally recognized event that just doesn’t pass muster, and then you elevate “bodily autonomy” to constitutional writ. The fact is that both concerns at issue (pre-birth status and bodily autonomy) rely on basic human rights, which are the rights to life and liberty. And while these rights are fundamental they are not ever-extensible. For example, one can lose one’s liberty by committing a crime, and I cannot harvest your organs to prolong my life while you are still alive. So my rights are extensible only until they reduce your fundamental rights. This is the crux of the abortion issue. Regardless of my feelings on the issue or my personal agenda, the fundamental question is as you referred to “What is the status regarding personhood of the unborn?”
    Many people have many opinions regarding this question. Personhood is and has been attributed arbitrarily, based on the beholder’s preference or viewpoint. I say we leave it to science, as the Catholic Church did in the mid 1800’s. Up until then the Church followed the Aristotelian and commonly held view that the embryo was amorphous (though it held that abortion was still gravely immoral even during this developmental stage). But with modern microscopy that theory was debunked and the Church adopted its current position, that human life (and personhood) begins at conception. Today, with the advance of scientific capabilities we know that there is no fundamental shift that happens to the preborn at birth, magically turning the fetus into a person. The ability to keep prematurely born infants alive at earlier and earlier gestational ages is proof of this.
    The only objective and morally acceptable perspective is that the proof is in the DNA. So I don’t care what color your skin is, your IQ, your level of productivity, or your age. If you possess a set of human DNA (which can include chromosomal defects), you are a human person. So the only question worth answering is what’s your standard for personhood?

  • http://www.danwegner.org invalid-0

    You said,

    The charge of “black genocide” must be the latest tactic of the anti-abortion industry.

    Eugenics is not genocide. Genocide doesn’t work in a democracy that often relies on the vote of those living off the treasury.

  • invalid-0

    ***and I cannot harvest your organs to prolong my life while you are still alive. So my rights are extensible only until they reduce your fundamental rights. This is the crux of the abortion issue.***

    Correct, the fetus has no rights to harvest the organs and body of the woman to maintain its life. If the right to life is to be extended over anothers body then it definitely shouldn’t be morally relative to the case of a fetus and only when its using a womans body, denying others equal protection over their right to live.

  • invalid-0

    Viability isn’t moving dramatically earlier currently. It did move earlier by using medical technology to substitute for the life support provided by the womans body to keep the fetus alive…. but medical technology has also expanded in the other direction, to also support life further beyond birth by also using another’s body.

  • mellankelly1

    My comments were directed to/from a Judeo-Christian vantage point. So yes, if you believe that there is no divinely revealed truth, my statements would have no traction with you. Having said that, your statements are merely your opinion and you offer nothing whatsoever in the form of substantiation

    I read the comments by both you and ruthless and it appears to me that you made some unsubstantiated judgement calls (shocking).  Firstly, ruthless never made an inference as to whether or not she has faith in God.  She was very clear, however, when she made this statement "I am constantly amazed at those anti-abortion people who think they not only know what an invisible deity wants-but the deity always wants what THEY want." that she is astonished that you purport to know Gods will.

     Also, do you refuse to acknowledge even the slightest irony regarding your declaration that her statements are merely her opinion?  Where is your proof or compelling evidence to backup your claims?  I love it that the judgements formed in your mind (your opinion) are factual while the judgement formed in the mind of anyone disagreeing with you (their opinion) are not.

    The only objective and morally acceptable perspective is that the proof is in the DNA

    I have never, ever heard that having DNA is on a par with having personhood… lots of things have DNA.  Again… what do you offer in the form of substantiation?  The Catholic churches ever-changing views?  That may fly with some Catholics but it is unacceptable reasoning for others, including those who have faith in God that has nothing what-so-ever to do with the Catholic church or Her opinions on personhood.

     So the only question worth answering is what’s your standard for personhood?

    You forgot the most important part of that sentence… "In my opinion the only question worth answering…"  And I strongly disagree with your opinion that there is only one question worth answering and offer you this:

    Should we not value a pregnant woman’s life (regardless of whether or not her pregnancy is wanted) and should she not have the same rights as any other person born or naturalized in our country?  Why should women give up their right to bodily autonomy, procedural due process, privacy and equal protection upon becoming pregnant?

  • invalid-0

    your statements are merely your opinion and you offer nothing whatsoever in the form of substantiation.

    I’ll ignore that as the ad hominem attack it is.

    No legal document in America recognizes a “right” to be born. Any attempt to force this into law via political/judicial activism would be unconstitutional because it violates the woman’s right to bodily autonomy.

    You throw out the right to birth as though it’s some constitutionally recognized event that just doesn’t pass muster, and then you elevate “bodily autonomy” to constitutional writ.

    No where in the Constitution is there a right to be born. Plus, the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are rights of citizenship. The Constitution defines citizens as “persons born or naturalized.” Sorry if I don’t see “conceived” in there. Maybe it was written with invisible ink? The “bodily autonomy” writ can be covered under the amendment which states citizens have the right to be secure in their own persons. Elevated nothing, it’s all there.

    the fundamental question is as you referred to “What is the status regarding personhood of the unborn?”

    Fetuses have no rights,and any law which attempted to give them rights would trample on those of the mother. Therefore, any such law would be found unconstitutional.

    Many people have many opinions regarding this question. Personhood is and has been attributed arbitrarily, based on the beholder’s preference or viewpoint. I say we leave it to science,

    Then you would have to knuckle under because not even science has been able to pinpoint that one.

    Up until then the Church followed the Aristotelian and commonly held view that the embryo was amorphous (though it held that abortion was still gravely immoral even during this developmental stage). But with modern microscopy that theory was debunked and the Church adopted its current position, that human life (and personhood) begins at conception.

    That is fine for them, but the RCC doesn’t make the law in America. Until America becomes a theocracy, the RCC’s opinion has no bearing on U.S. law.

    Today, with the advance of scientific capabilities we know that there is no fundamental shift that happens to the preborn at birth, magically turning the fetus into a person. The ability to keep prematurely born infants alive at earlier and earlier gestational ages is proof of this.

    But not without risk and massive medical intervention.

    The only objective and morally acceptable perspective is that the proof is in the DNA. So I don’t care what color your skin is, your IQ, your level of productivity, or your age. If you possess a set of human DNA (which can include chromosomal defects), you are a human person.

    Except, a newly fertilized ovum can no way be compared with the would-be mother.

    So the only question worth answering is what’s your standard for personhood?

    Birth, when the newborn becomes a U.S. citizen.

  • invalid-0

    During slavery times in this country women often used cotton root as an abortificant so they could control their own bodies rather than be “brood mares” for the plantation owners who decided who could be pregnant and who could not and then of course decided who kept their babies and who did not. I am so tired of seeing this old arguement that black women should not have the right to control their own bodies because it is in some way racism for them to do so. It is in fact racism for a white man to decide if they can have an abortion or not. Of course no woman should ever be forced to have an abortion or be sterilized against her will as has happened in this country to women of color–but forcing her to continue a pregnancy against her will is just as wrong. EVery person should have control over their own body and not be subject to any other person’s opinion of what is moral or right.