On Saturday, thousands marched in Washington in favor of making abortion illegal in America. It was inspired by the 40th Anniversary of Roe vs Wade. On his new Twitter account, Pope Benedict XVI supported the march with the following tweet: “I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.” It was only the fourth time in history the Pope had ever sent out a message via Twitter.
On Sunday, thousands marched in Washington in favor of gun control in America. It was inspired by the tragedy in Newtown, CT. On his Twitter account, Pope Benedict XVI was silent. The director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi released a statement in favor of gun control in the aftermath of Newtown, but the Pope himself has made no such pronouncements. The Pope is signalling to the world that, in his view, outlawing abortion protects life in a more important way than controlling the proliferation of firearms in society.
I do not believe that government should impose on society its opinion about the question of when human life begins. The morality of abortion hinges on this question. It is both a question of science and of faith. Neither science nor faith give a clear answer. That is why I believe it should be left up to the individual to decide.
For me, it is not simply a question of biology, because that is not what distinguishes humanity from other life on earth. If we make no such distinction between living organism, then we must decry something as common as killing bacteria. The important distinction between human and other life is not biological, it is in the human spirit and soul.
Christians disagree, but I believe the Bible is pretty clear about when the human spirit is implanted in the human body. In the creation story, the human spirit is breathed into Adam after he is fully formed. In the dry bones dream in Ezekiel, God says, “I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.” I interpret these and other passages from Scripture to suggest that we become fully human only at birth when we take our first breath of life.
The Catholic Church has for several centuries taught that human life begins at conception. The evangelical Protestants used to disagree, but ever since Jerry Falwell, they have embraced this notion. I believe elevating the status of fetuses is motivated more by a concern over dwindling numbers of members than by Biblical teachings.
I fear that these Christian leaders who decry a woman’s right to choose are primarily concerned about maintaining their power in society through the numbers of their adherents. Teaching their members that abortion (and any form of birth control) is wrong, increases the birthrate among their members, and this in turn helps to ensure that their “kind” maintain or grow it’s percentage within a society.
Jesus said go and make disciples, but I don’t think he meant by forcing women to have babies against their will. I believe being a pro-life Christian means valuing human life, and I believe this mission is undermined by equating a human fetus to a human child.