The Religious Coalition for
Killing Babies Reproductive Choice wants to celebrate Father’s Day by cutting him out of the decision about whether to become a father or not. The Rev. Madison Shockley shrouds this in double-talk, but that’s what it comes down to:
A critical problem with the “abortion” debate is that the field of concern is far too narrow. Abortion is a procedure. The real issue should focus on the woman whose life and body are the context for a discussion that too often ignores this reality.
Abortion is a procedure…that of necessity kills the subject. You’d think from this sterile language that he was talking about an appendectomy.
To paraphrase I John 4:20-21 20, those who say, “I love the fetus,” and hate or ignore the voice of the woman, are liars; for those who do not love and respect a woman whom they have seen, cannot love the fetus whom they have not seen. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love the fetus must love the woman also.
And apparently “loving the woman” means deferring to her decision no matter how wrong-headed, immoral, or lethal to a child who was conceived by her and someone else. As for his “paraphrase” of 1 John 4, that’s just blasphemous.
In the case where, without or in spite of calculation, pregnancy has occurred the woman must again first determine, to the extent she is able, whether the pregnancy is wanted and welcomed. In a healthy relationship the woman should feel confident, and her spouse should concur, that she would not forfeit her autonomy and moral authority by inviting her spouse into the decision-making process.
I had to read that last sentence three times before I understood that Shockley was saying that actually bringing fathers into the discussion won’t cramp the mother’s style, if the relationship is healthy. If the relationship is healthy, she will retain her autonomy and moral authority. Funny, I always thought that marriage was about two people giving up their autonomy and being subject to one another. Guess I’ll have to let the missus know we got that wrong.
At this point the same matters of family life, health, finances, etc. would be discussed as part of the process in which the woman determines whether her pregnancy is welcomed and wanted. But at all times it must be recognized as her decision. For even the spouse to compel or prohibit the progress of the pregnancy is a violation of her divinely conferred moral authority and human right to self-determination. It is to take authority over the woman’s body away from her and transfer it to another person. As intimate as the spousal relationship is we only speak spiritually and metaphorically of the “two becoming one flesh”; for the woman and the fetus we are always speaking literally.
Shockley’s view of healthy marriage is really weird. Apparently, in his world, one spouse can make a life-or-death decision and, if she chooses to, completely disregard her husband’s opinion. And if he does anything more than say, “My preference would be X, but you should do whatever you want” it threatens to “take authority over the women’s body.”
In healthy relationships a woman’s negative decision can be shared where the nurture of the spouse (parents and extended family) can be a source of support in the actions that would follow her decision not to continue an unwanted pregnancy. It is critical in such situations that spouses (and the family) not allow their own feelings of loss to overwhelm their capacity to compassionately accompany the woman in her journey from pregnancy to non-pregnancy. We recognize in these moments the moral gravity that pulls on the lives of everyone involved. But the woman remains at the center of that moral universe and must retain that role in determining how she will live her life.
Can anyone read a paragraph like that and not understand why marriage in this country is in such sorry shape? To the extent that this kind of thinking has become typical of what people carry into marriage, we’ve turned an institution of self-giving love that is centered on the other’s good into nothing more than legalized cohabitation, in which two autonomous individuals always withhold a part of themselves so that they can “determine how she/he will live his/her life.”
This is bad enough. But as you might expect, it gets worse:
Who speaks for the fetus? Certainly not voices from the public square. Not even voices from the church. God has made the first choice by placing the mystery of reproduction inside the woman. In doing so God established a holy partnership with the woman in the procreative process. Many who would claim to speak for the fetus would say that once conception has occurred if it is just left alone it will become a human being and thus consider the same personhood exists at birth as it does at fertilization. But it is vital to recognize that pregnancy is a process of gestation that ends in a human birth. Medicine has recognized that this process is quite often interrupted by physiological processes and that spontaneous abortions (miscarriage in lay terms) occur to as many as 60% of all conceptions. In lay theology (and sometimes in more sophisticated arenas) it would be said that “God decided that it wasn’t the right time.”
That’s right. God decided that it wasn’t the right time. Not a woman exercising her autonomous right to decide whether the life that she and a man joined together to create (completely voluntarily, 98% of the time) will continue or be brutally terminated. Shockley seems to be saying that, when a pregnancy doesn’t spontaneously end, God has delegated the right of life-or-death to the woman, and no one–no one, and certainly not anyone from the “public square”–but that woman can speak for the child within here.
When you think about it, this is a bizarre position for religious liberals to hold, since they have no compunctions at all about speaking from the public square for all kinds of perfectly capable adults, including pregnant women, and they don’t have the slightest worry that they might be stepping on someone’s autonomy.
Given the divine choice to put this process inside the woman we submit that a woman also has the moral authority to “interrupt” this process when she has determined for health, family, personal and other reasons of self-determination that a pregnancy has not come at the “right time” for her. She may seek another pregnancy or she may continue to care for the children and family that she already has but it must always remain her decision without coercion from the state, the church, her extended family or even her spouse.
If you ever had any doubt that the RCRC–and by extension the denominations (Episcopal Church, UCC, PCUSA, and United Methodists) that enable it–support abortion on demand at any time, for any reason, or for no real reason at all, please lay them aside. As far as the RCRC is concerned, if Mrs. decides that she must get an abortion because otherwise that dress she is dying to wear to her tenth high school reunion won’t fit, that’s cool. (I’m not saying that many women make decisions about abortion for such frivolous reasons–though at least a small portion do–but that RCRC doesn’t care.) I’ve said before that the RCRC has never heard of an abortion that it didn’t like, and this is the kind of garbage that only offers confirmation.
By the way, the title of this piece is, “Father’s Day Reflections on The Bible, Women, The Fetus, & More.” What is it about holidays that brings out the most fatuous, nonsensical, and even blasphemous in the RCRC and its minions?