I consider myself both pro-choice and pro-life, because I support a woman’s right to choose and I oppose capital punishment. I’ve heard reasoned and nuanced arguments from both sides on these controversial issues, and I appreciate people who make it a point to listen to those with whom they disagree. What I don’t appreciate are pandering politicians like Texas Governor Rick Perry, who take simple positions with bible-based answers, while ignoring any evidence-based, opposing points of view.
You would think that those who oppose abortion under any circumstances and view it as the greatest evil would necessarily favor practical steps to reduce the number of abortions. I’m talking about government funding to promote sex education in schools and accessibility to condoms by sexually active teens. And for poor pregnant women who want to give birth, government funded prenatal health care, day-care programs, and other support systems. But perhaps punishing women for being sexually active and lowering taxes are even greater priorities than addressing abortion in those practical ways.
Were we living under biblical law, and praise be to the U. S. Constitution we are not, I could still advocate for my positions. The bible says that if two men are fighting and knock down a pregnant woman, then the death penalty is imposed on the perpetrator if the woman dies, but only a fine if the fetus is aborted (Exodus 21:22-25). And an abortion is even required if the woman is impregnated by a man who is not her husband (Numbers 5:11-31). So abortion is not that big a deal, biblically speaking.
As for capital punishment, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7) and “Vengeance is mine saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). And what better argument exists for the abolition of the death penalty than that Jesus was given capital punishment for a crime he didn’t commit?
So what have I proved? Absolutely nothing! We could just as easily quote scripture for the opposite point of view. Here’s a thought for politicians to consider. Give good secular arguments for the positions you take, instead of relying on selected passages from a book written a couple thousand years ago. As much as you might admire ancient writers, they were only human. We’ve learned a lot in the past two thousand years.
Here’s a question for you. What do the countries in each of the two following groups have in common, and in which one does the United States belong?
1. Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Uganda.
2. Australia, Canada, Denmark Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
The United States is part of the first list, countries with the death penalty. Now guess which group most favors applying ancient scriptures when writing laws. It’s the same group that is more likely to oppose abortions and find cause to go to war.
Image courtesy of Kate Ausburn.