Abortion Part 1:

A Spectrum of Opinions

Edited by Drew Friesen

Photo Courtesy of  Stock Snap

By Anderson Hultgren

Published October 1st, 2020

            Nearly two-millennia has passed since the Son of Man was wrongly sentenced to death by the Chief Priests and Elders.[1] These religious and social leaders exemplified blind foolishness and personified hypocrisy. However, these men were deeply devoted to biblical study and practice. Despite their religious devotion, they rejected the promised Messiah. The Chief Priests poisoned God’s word with culture, traditions, and the pursuit of power—prepared to slay and conquer all who opposed them.[2] The Elders and Priests are now a warning to us. Our Christian study and practice are righteous pursuits, but when we marry biblical morality with culture, traditions, or the pursuit of power, we are susceptible to becoming both dividers and demonizers, an existence summated in the abandonment of the second greatest commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:34-40 ESV).

            It may be hard to see, but the hypocrisy of the Elders and Priests is the same practice, presentation, and principle too often found in the abortion debate. I myself am ProLife and confess that intentional abortion is murder.[3] However, I confess that both sides weaponize culture, traditions, and political power. Even those who appeal to God’s word will often couple their appeal with biblically-immoral practices. Furthermore, few understand the nuanced nature of the debate and in turn are “arguing with phantoms.”[4] The first half of this two-part article will statistically examine the abortion debate, while the second will look to personal testimonials, and conclude with a biblical examination of the polarizing debate.

Abortion Politicized

           For many Americans, abortion is the primary political subject. ProLife and ProChoice protest against the other, arguing on one side, “We must choose between life and death,” and the other, “It is choice versus oppression.”[5] Many believe that abortion is the single-issue[6] to consider when voting.[7] Each side employs their arsenal to sway legality and culture,[8] yet these two choices are a false representation of the American opinion of abortion.

           Christian Sociologist James Davison Hunter dissects the nuanced subject in his essay, “What Americans Really Think About Abortion.”[9] Hunter finds several inconsistencies with the way the abortion debate is presented. If presentation directly affects perception, and perception affects possible solutions, a thoughtless approach to the debate will never find a solution. Attempting to combat the “arguing with phantoms,”[10] we will move forward by giving thought to the debate, addressing the inconsistencies Hunter finds.

           The first inconsistency Hunter finds is caused by a large disparity in legal-illiteracy.[11] ABC World News Tonight announced a survey, “About six of every ten Americans favored keeping Roe [v Wade] just as it is.”[12] While the survey was accurate, the conclusion ABC used was inaccurate. ABC did not report on the wide spectrum of opinions behind the survey. For instance, the survey was not a single ‘yes or no question.’ It also questioned the participants' knowledge of Roe v Wade. Hunter elaborates,

“[O]ne out of four Americans thought Roe permitted abortions only during the first three months of pregnancy regardless of a woman’s reason for wanting one. Another one out of six believed that the decision permitted abortions only during the first three months and then only when the mother’s life or health was threatened. Four percent actually believed that the decision outlaws all abortion in the United States. Finally, four out of ten admitted that they just did not know the legal outcome of this landmark case … 80 percent of those polled disagreed with the (correct) statement that ‘abortion is available through all nine months of pregnancy’—indeed, 65 percent disagreed strongly!”[13]

For the many opinionated voices on Roe v Wade, only one out ten actually understood the court case.[14] In fact, a majority opposed Roe’s conclusions.

            Secondly, within both movements, there is a large cluster of people who would not fall under the groups ProLife or ProChoice. Some confessed to be ProLife, but when pushed, they would practice or encourage a loved one to have an abortion. Hunter called this cluster The Conveniently ProLife.[15] This cluster’s practice and confession are opposed. If they indeed believe what they confess, their practice allows murder.

            Hunter found other clusters[16] like The Personally Opposed ProChoice. This grouping is the “mirror opposite of The Conveniently ProLife.”[17] While they would never have or suggest an abortion, their confession allows others to abort. This grouping may have a different moral standard between their immediate community and the broader or a different approach for political enforcement. Whatever the specific reasoning, The Personally Opposed ProChoice could be an ally to the ProLife movement, if only they were not discarded as ProChoice.

            Hunter points to at least four clusters outside of the ProLife and ProChoice camps. Contrary to the public perception, the majority of American’s do not stand in the ProChoice or ProLife camps. As the ProChoice movement allows for more options, the majority of Americans stumble into the ProChoice camp, even if they disagree with Roe v Wade.

            Thirdly, many identify as ProChoice for the social image alone. In secret, they might believe that abortion is murder, but the problem lies in their moderate or liberal politics and social circles. Since ProLifers are often politically-conservative and sometimes politically extreme, moderate and liberal anti-abortionists often feel forced to confess a ProChoice stance. Hunter parses it,

Gaining popular support for a certain social and political end is invariably tied to the legitimacy of the movement that advocates it. And legitimacy is invariably linked to image. No matter how elevated or well-intentioned the goal, bad public relations can completely undermine the ideals that animate a movement.”[18]

Where we may often expect that image is trivial, the truth is no one wants to be deemed a woman-hater. Indeed, most ProLifers value all life including women, but the public image has been tarnished.

            Three of the obstacles for the ProLife movement are legal-illiteracy, miscategorization, and public image. Hunter concludes, “the ProLife movement’s greatest obstacle … [is] itself. Neither its general cultural orientation nor its public image is appealing to many Americans who would otherwise be sympathetic to its objectives.”[19] If the ProLife movement wishes to curtail and ban abortion, they must consider that the way an argument is presented is the gateway to receiving a message. Like a letter marked urgent, presentation can be equally as important as the information itself. Screaming outside of abortion clinics, manipulating political leaders that will allow legal progression, and creating propaganda against abortion will never aid the presentation of the message. Until the obstacles are addressed, America will be ruled by Roe v Wade.

________________________

Footnotes:

            [1] Mt. 26-27

            [2] Mt. 21:33-46

            [3] Abortion, meaning a specific medical procedure intended to annihilate a fetus or baby. However, I do confess a difference between abortion, miscarriages, and induced labor. While the argument for a mother or child's life seemed plausible to me, the follow article was rather convincing to the alternative, arguing that abortion is not safer than an induced labor. See: Brian Clowes, "Does Abortion Reduce Maternal Deaths?" Human Life International (July 31, 2020, Online). Accessed Sep. 7, 2020: https://www.hli.org/resources/do-abortions-save-lives/; “Overall, abortion accounts for 7.7% of maternal deaths in the developing world, ranking a distant fifth after hemorrhage (27.6%), hypertensive disorders (15.1%), obstructed labor (10.1%), and sepsis and infections (9.9%).”

            [4] James Davison Hunter, "What Americans Really Think About Abortion" First Things (Vol. 24, 1992), 15; Accessed Sep. 2, 2020: https://www.firstthings.com/article/1992/06/what-americans-really-think-about-abortion.

            [5] James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (New York, NY: Oxford University Press), 2010), 21.

            [6] For more on single-issue voting see: John Langan, S.J., “The Morality of Single-Issue Voting” Christian Century (Online), 818. Accessed Sep. 1, 2020: https://www.religion-online.org/article/the-morality-of-single-issue-voting/ 

            [7] Hunter, “Abortion,” 15; As of the time this was written, “nearly one out of five American’s say they feel so strongly about this issue [abortion rights] that they would vote for or against a political candidate in an election solely because of his or her position on abortion.” (15)

            [8] Hunter, To Change the World, 32; Defining ‘culture’ through James Davison Hunter’s definition, “Culture is, first and foremost, a normative order by which we comprehend others, the larger world, and ourselves and through which we individually and collectively order our experience. At the heart of culture is a complex of norms, as social scientists are prone to call them. But these norms are better understood as commanding truths, which define the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ of our experience and, accordingly, the good and evil, the right and the wrong, the appropriate and the inappropriate, the honorable and the shameful.”

            [9] Hunter, "Abortion," 13-21; Note: The statistics in this paper were prior to 1992. Though the statistics may have slighted, the problems Hunter addresses remain consistent with many in 2020.

            [10] Ibid., 15.

            [11] Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)

            [12] Hunter, "Abortion," 14. (emphasis added)

            [13] Ibid.

            [14] Ibid.

            [15] Ibid., 16. (emphasis added)

            [16] Even more categories appear when asking when a human life starts. The majority of Americans do not condone abortion for a full 9 months (as is legal now). However, the staunch stance of the ProLife and ProChoice movements force the nuanced beliefs into the legal categories we see today.

            [17] Hunter, “Abortion,” 17. (emphasis added)

            [18] Ibid., 19. (emphasis added)

            [19] Ibid., 21.

Terms of Service: Worthwhile Theology © 2020. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, except as provided for by USA copyright law. If you would like permission for ministerial or academic use, please reach out to us at contact@worthwhiletheology.com.

© 2020 Worthwhile Theology

© 2020 Worthwhile Theology Magazine