When You Say ‘Abortion is Murder,’ That’s Your Religious Belief

My religious beliefs say otherwise

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If you believe abortion is murder, then I strongly recommend that you not have an abortion.  

Or at least, what we call an “elective abortion,” where you terminate a pregnancy because you don’t want to be pregnant. Not because baby is incompatible with life, or because you’ve miscarried but your body is struggling to expel the embryo or fetus, or because your own life is at risk. 

If one of those other situations applies to you, then good golly, I hope you DO have an abortion (if you want it). Because even if you’ve been shamed and guilted your whole life that the a-word makes you a horrible murderer, there are so many situations where an abortion procedure is needed. It does not in any way mean you’re ending a life that could have a successful existence. It’s not worth risking your own life to preserve something that has either already died or will inevitably die in utero or shortly after birth. We need you here more than we need you to stand firm on your principles, ok? 

If your religious beliefs say that life begins at conception, which you’ve decided means the moment of fertilization (which makes me wonder if you’re aware of how many fertilized eggs a woman’s body might expel because guess what, it’s anywhere from 30-70%) – anyway, if you believe a fertilized egg has as much personhood as a fully grown human – then by all means, don’t have an abortion.  

And that’s not even counting chemical pregnancies (miscarriages by 5 weeks) and other spontaneous miscarriages that often happen in the first trimester. All that included means around 68% of fertilized eggs don’t even make it out of first trimester (source from Emily Nagoski). 

It sounds to me that the God you believe in (who says a fertilized egg has as much personhood as a fully born human) is much more murderous than the women having abortions, if he’s allowing nearly 70% of fertilized eggs to die! 

But go on, tell me how women who have abortions are murderers. I imagine you are also unfazed by the blatant genocide, slavery, and females as property in the Bible also? 

I invite you to consider, for just a moment, that the reason you feel so strongly about your position has more to do with your particular religious beliefs than science. 

And also, assuming you’re basing your beliefs on a Christian view of the Bible, the Bible has very little to say directly about abortion. One passage has a priest giving a woman suspected of adultery “bitter water” to cause a curse and make her miscarry if she has another man’s child (Numbers 5:11-31) [A commenter on Medium even shared with me that the bitter water is not only forced abortion, but thought by scholars to cause permanent infertility. She also pointed out that these are passages in the canonized Bible].

And in Exodus 21:22, if two men are fighting and they hit a pregnant woman and cause her to miscarry, they have to pay a penalty, instead of the “life for a life” punishment when an adult is killed. This demonstrates the fetus is not seen as equivalent to a fully grown human.  

In Jewish tradition (Jews who also, you know, read the same Old Testament aka Hebrew Bible that Christians do), life begins at first breath. A Jewish commenter on my Medium article shared that abortion is considered “kosher” due to this belief.

So when we have a declaration that life —by which people actually mean full personhood— begins at conception and that conception means a fertilized egg (which medical fields don’t even all agree with), all we’re doing is imposing a particular religious tradition on a supposedly secular society where freedom of religion is theoretically protected.

***

When you shout so confidently that “Abortion is murder!” I hope you’re not within earshot of anyone who’s ever had an abortion. 

I hope you feel so self-righteous that you’ve helped save the souls of all those unborn babies by installing a predatory, narcissistic, pathologically lying president who followed through on those 3 Supreme Court seats you happened to get during his term (one of which should have been filled the previous term and one of which really should have waited until the next term, but who’s counting?). 

I hope you hold the dichotomy in your mind all the time that the government has the authority to regulate a woman’s uterus, but it sure can’t do anything about regulating guns, or regulating the environment where we ALL suffer the consequences of a rapidly heating planet, or even offering extra cash assistance to the families who are having the babies they’re now forced to birth. Hopefully you think extra hard about the unborn babies vs guns things. Make it make sense. 

When you say that abortion is murder, all you’re saying is “my religious beliefs hold that abortion is murder!” 

And my religious beliefs do NOT hold that abortion is murder. 

“Murder” is a term we should consider carefully: According to the Oxford dictionary, it is the “unlawful premeditated killing of one human by another.” According to Merriam-Webster, another nuance is added: to kill “unlawfully and with premeditated malice” (emphasis mine).

So by changing a law that has existed for almost 50 years, you can suddenly turn a bunch of women into murderers. But were they acting with malice? In my experience, no.

I don’t believe that ending the growth of a bunch of cells living in a uterus should be called murder. Yes, those cells grow into a full-blown baby, and I believe babies should be provided all the protections they need to thrive in this world.

But when its mother is the sole keeper, grower, nourisher, she has a special role to play. Only she, with medical guidance from a professional, has the authority to decide what to do about the baby who has taken up residence in her body. She, more than anyone else, understands her physical, emotional, and mental health, and her own capacity to grow and sustain a life from within her. It is a sacred calling. But sacred callings ought not be forced upon people. That removes the sacredness from the calling. 

I believe that each person deserves dignity and agency (ability to make one’s own choices). I believe that love should guide our decisions. I believe that when a person unexpectedly becomes pregnant, they are generally guided by love if they are able to make a free-will decision: they understand the gravity of what they are undertaking, and if they choose to terminate a pregnancy, it is because they don’t have what it requires to bear and raise a child. Maybe right now, or maybe ever. The most common woman seeking an abortion already has children. She knows what it takes. 

And if a hell exists, I certainly don’t believe God sends unborn babies to hell. I also don’t believe God judges women in difficult positions with their pregnancies. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” as Jesus said.

I can imagine a compassionate God loving a woman sitting with her pregnancy stick with two pink lines, crying over a decision she knows she needs to make. I can imagine God’s arm around her shoulders, holding her close to comfort her. “It’s okay, my love. I know the burdens you bear.” I can imagine God holding that potential child’s soul for a better time.

That is the same exact compassion I want to offer to anyone who has had to make the difficult choice to terminate a pregnancy: whether for the fetus’s or your own health, your mental health, your financial stability, rape, bad partner, no support, whatever. You don’t have to justify it to me. I trust that you knew what you had to do, and you did it. 

And I trust that God loves you exactly the same. 

2 thoughts on “When You Say ‘Abortion is Murder,’ That’s Your Religious Belief

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