A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


What does it mean to use pro-life language when the subject of violence against clinics, even the murder of doctors is a present reality today? One condoned by many on the right today?

"Those few abortionists were shot, or, depending on your point of view, had a procedure with a rifle performed on them. I'm not justifying it, but I do understand how it happened." Ann Coulter The fact that this statement didn't raise the public ire is alarming.

And then there's Wiley Drake. He was awarded the post of second vice president of the Southern Baptist convention. In the past he defended the actions Jim Kopp, a man who killed a doctor who performed abortions and is believed to have killed four other doctors as well.

Yes, a head official in the largest protestant church in the US has defended an assassin. That's worth sitting with. What does that say about that church or the church in general? And our supreme court has ruled that a woman's health is irrelevant when it comes to abortion.

It seems to me that the mainline protestant church cannot sit by the sidelines anymore. We can't just pass a pro-choice resolution and send some money to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and think our job has been done.

Rather the church needs to be fully engaged with this issue. It should be treated as key as any other justice concern. Even from liberal churches, there is not much national what less local church engagement with an issue that can mean the life and death of women. That needs to change.


At 9:44 AM , Anonymous Michael S said...

Good to see a post! I thought you'd disappeared!!

At 11:05 AM , Blogger Wulfila said...

Yeah! Missed you!

At 12:25 PM , Blogger Pastor Bob Cornwall said...


It is time that we reclaim and broaden the term -- pro-life. Pro-life is defined as pre-birth and post-death, but it seems to have nothing to do with what happens between birth and death. So I proudly say I'm pro-life! Even if I may have to explain myself.

At 1:35 PM , Blogger prodigal sheep said...

Agreed. The term 'pro-life' has been hijacked. It should mean someone who is for human and civil rights and for the environment.

At 11:01 PM , Blogger Jonathan said...

rediculous...no Christian condones the acts of psycopathic people that attack abortion clinics, nor do they condone it. To make such a statement shows a complete and total lack of critical thinking skills, or the ability to look at an issue even somewhat open minded.

Interestingly, there was no link to a factual statement defending your point on the Southern Baptists leader defending Kopp.

The reason that "pro-life" is used is because the child within the womb is not considered alive to many that accept abortion. The term associates istself with the defense of the defensless life.

You spoke of the life and death of women, while in the meant time completely glazed over the "other" 43 millions lives that have died. Why is it that you feel the need to skip past that large, very important part? Do you really think THAT is what the issue is all about?

Do you even understand that in most cases, the woman's body naturally aborts in nearly all cases of possible death (oh, and in abortions, that is under 5%)?

You said to treat it as a concern. How so? Do you think it is wrong? If so, what should be done about abortion? What actions by the churches have been innapropriate, and what is the best response?

At 1:38 AM , Blogger Dwight said...

Dwight said...

I appreciate the responses. I've been dealing with a number of personal transitions that have limited my posting but I hope to be more frequent then I have been as of late.

The point of highlighting key people on the right including a denominational leader was to suggest that violence against women, doctors, etc. is not done by just some lone nut job but is rather supported by a wider group of folks. And that's a problem.

My call to the churches was directed towards mainline protestant bodies who claim a pro-choice stance but never raise the issue publicly, never encourage members to be involved in advocacy, never do the sort of educational work to prevent the criminalization of a whole class of women again.

At 1:44 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will concede that MOST "pro-life" Christians don't condone clinic violence. I will also point out that most of them are doing nothing to stop clinic violence (the explicit violence of guns and bombs and the less-obvious-to-the-privileged attacks of hurled insults and manipulative cries faced by women walking into nearly any clinic in the U.S.) I recommend the book Targets of Hatred for those who are open to learning more about how we Christians have both condoned and opposed anti-choice violence. I would also invite anybody who believes everyday Christians don't condone anti-choice violence to HONESTLY put themselves in the shoes of a woman seeking an abortion and walk outside a clinic one day, remaining in that spiritual place without ever once defending yourself by telling those harassing you that you are not there to seek/support an abortion. The violence is real.

Jonathan's statement that "pro-life" is used because those us who support choice don't believe a developing fetus is alive displays some ignorance of the pro-choice movement. Many/most of us are pretty careful, critical thinkers and realize that a fetus is alive. So is an ant. So is a blade of grass. Whether or not something is "alive" is not the issue here. Whether or not violent people, churches, and the government control a woman's ability to make moral decisions about her relationship to God, her family, and her own body is the issue. Women were having abortions long before men decided to make it a political issue. Did women need men to make them moral?

And finally, Jonathan, as a pro-life person (I assume), are you offering up your body for others to use? Donor registries? Regular blood and plasma donations? Constant (24/7) feeding and sheltering of another being using your own body? Perhaps you are. But most "pro-lifers" - especially the men - are not. They are asking women to do so against their will, but they don't do the same. That is violence.

At 9:01 AM , Blogger Mother Laura said...

Feminists for Life of America, a pro-woman, pro-life group of which I was the Notre Dame founding president during grad school, offered a reward for the capture of the Birmingham clinic bomber.

This issue does not divide along simple gender lines. A majority of pro-lifers, both rank and file and national leadership (though you would never know this from media coverage) are women. Many have been physically or emotionally harmed through abortions chosen without fully informed consent due to economic and social injustice and frequently through major pressure from their male partners or, in the case of young women, their own parents. Comparing their deeply mourned children to ants and blades of grass is disrespectful of their pain and of every woman's right to not to have to "choose" between her motherhood and career, education, and a decent life.

At 9:57 AM , Anonymous another anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks they can restrict someone else's choice based on their own warped morality can [bunchOfAsterisks] right off.

Just what are all the "pro-life"rs scared of? That, just because something's permitted by law, there'll be lumps of rotting flesh and blood running down the streets? Or that people will be allowed to exercise their own judgement in the matter on a per-case basis? Can't be having that now, can we?

It's local and national voting day here in Scotland at the moment. I saw a placard for the so-called "scottish christian party" outside the polling station, and checked them up on the web afterwards; anti-sunday trading, anti-abortion, ludicrously irresponsible economics even by my standards, and to cap it all, a curfew on kids aged under 10 staying out beyond 9pm. All this tells me is they value foetuses more than they do fully fledged humans who are otherwise capable of making society tick. "Christian" my ass; they're nothing but a bunch of modern-day legalistic pharisees.

At 11:51 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mother Laura,

I meant no disrespect when saying that blades of grass and ants are alive. Personally, I hold those forms of life in great respect and consider myself responsible for them, as I do fetuses. I meant that statement only to point out that "life" is not the argument here. Biological life does not equal personhood. My faith journey has led me to believe that personhood develops over time, but for a wanted child to be lost to miscarriage (induced or spontaneous), it is certainly the loss of a valuable life to the woman who considered it a developing person. For a woman who, for whatever reason, chooses not to offer her body up in the sacrifice of pregnancy and childbirth, the situation is quite different.

I thank you for pointing out that reproductive justice means making sure that consent is informed. As a feminist, I am sure you know how few women enter into pregnancy and childrearing with informed consent as well. One of the great injustices of this whole discussion is that we have posed the anti-abortion crowd as the opponents of the pro-choice crowd instead of acknowledging that the true opposite of anti-abortion is pro-abortion. There are many people out there who force abortion on women who would not choose that, just as there are many out there who force childbearing one women who would not choose that. For reproductive justice to prevail, we must make all choices viable so women can choose what is best for themselves, their families, and their communities. Feminists for Life, in my experience, claims to want to remove barriers to childbearing and childrearing but also (in local instances, at least) put forth misinformation about abortion, limit information about risks of certain pregnancies, and deny contraception and education to women. They also (working along with other anti-choice groups) instill guilt in women who decide they cannot continue a pregnancy by insisting it is never a woman's best choice. They also insist that ALL women who choose abortion have been coerced, duped, manipulated, etc. This may not be your stance, but it is one promoted by several FFL I have encountered, and it is not feminist. Even in a world without gender oppression, I know some women would decide that they cannot continue a pregnancy, and therefore, as a Christian feminist, I will work to keep the termination of a pregnancy - along with childbearing, childrearing, and adoption - safe, legal, and available.

At 1:29 PM , Blogger Eli said...

What an interesting debate! I'm glad that people are seriously considering these issues, even if we have seemed to be off on a tangent. And almost all of it was not mean spirited. Like all forms of true discussion, both sides need to articulate their views in a coherent manner, although my experience after 30+ years, no one will change their mind on the abortion issue.

My two-cents worth...accept and love everyone with the love of Christ and allow God to speak to the woman's heart about what she will do or has done.

I believe the original premise is "Even if you do not believe in abortion, you still cannot condone the associated violence". Isn't that really what pro-life means?

Pro-life, pro-choice...it amazes me how we try to use phraseology to paint our position with a righteous brush!

At 7:07 PM , Blogger Jonathan said...

"Many/most of us are pretty careful, critical thinkers and realize that a fetus is alive. So is an ant. So is a blade of grass. Whether or not something is "alive" is not the issue here. Whether or not violent people, churches, and the government control a woman's ability to make moral decisions about her relationship to God, her family, and her own body is the issue."

Which plays exactly into what I have been talking about. Where is the value of human life?

You are considering the breathing of a plant as equal to that of a human being. That couldn't be farther from the truth.

And since this is a religious blog, let me get my religious point out there:

Man was created in the Image of God (Gen. 1). Ants were not. Grass was not. Man was given special privledge in this world, and certain capabilities to have a relationship with our creator.

The life of the ant is NOT equal by any standards to the life of a human being. It's a good thing that your mother didn't think that way when you were born...

Some of you have spoken about what pro-lifers have done to stop abortion clinic rage. Would someone like to tell me how many incidents there have actually been in the name of Christianity, first off? And second, how many of you are doing something to stop these terrible acts? What CAN be done when a psycopath is willing to kill?!

What you imply is that Churchs accept these actions, and worse teach them...when in actuality they condemn it and would never teach such apprehensible actions.

And then, to change the subject, and say that men somehow need to makeup for the biological shortcomings because they aren't in the EXACT situation is rediculous. Abortion is an easily preventable cause of death...giving blood is not even in the same situation.

When our society has pictured the condemnation of wrongful acts as somekind of perverted violence, then we have truly fallen far from a moral standpoint.

At 10:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Abortion is an easily preventable cause of death..."

This argument assumes pregnancy is a default, natural, and easy. This argument assumes that childbearing is a passive process and saying "no" to it is the active process. Giving life through allowing another to form in one's body is far more dangerous, active, and difficult than donating blood once a month. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you are lqxsmale?

As for whether I equated the life of an ant and a human, I did not. I simply said that arguments about when life begin are not helpful here, because "life" is not the question, "personhood" is the question.

Finally, please come for a visit the next time I have to help women into a clinic, walking through the VERY violent shouts, 'medical' lies, and deceitful images hurled upon them by the people who either march down from the local church as a group or are bussed in from churches up to 3 hours away. Then tell me the church does not condone violence.


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