Christianity and Abortion Rights
The struggle for abortion rights continues to rage in the 21st century. On one side feminists, who see it as part of the struggle to establish a woman’s right to control her own body, and a wider constituency, who deplore the injury and death resulting from the lack of access to safe abortions, have campaigned energetically for abortion rights. On the other side, various religious fundamentalists have put pressure on states to block any expansion of rights and even take away existing rights. Prominent among the anti-abortion forces are the Roman Catholic establishment and right-wing Evangelical sects. Unable to find any prohibition of abortion in the scriptures, they have relied on the prohibition of murder, arguing that a fertilised ovum constitutes a human life, and therefore its destruction constitutes murder. This extreme anti-abortion position too finds no support in the Bible: indeed, even the Catholic church adopted it only in the latter part of the 19th century, and among Evangelicals it is much more recent, suggesting that it is part of the right-wing fundamentalist backlash against struggles for women’s rights. Progressive Christians have been among those fighting for reproductive justice. Their arguments are compatible with the feminist position that having a baby should be a matter of choice, and that those who care for children should do so out of love, not compulsion. Thus reproductive justice is not only a matter of securing the right of women to make decisions about their bodies and their lives, but also a matter of securing the right of children to be loved and wanted.
Keywords: abortion, feminism, Christianity, religious fundamentalism, women’s rights, children’s rights.
Copyright (c) 2020 Rohini Hensman
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal, providing it is not used for commercial purposes and any derivative work is shared with the same license.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).