USA TODAY US Edition

Faith guided our decision on 2 abortions

Christian values support parenting as a sacred task

- Rebecca Todd Peters Religious studies professor Rebecca Todd Peters, a professor of religious studies at Elon University, is the author of “Trust Women: A Progressiv­e Christian Argument for Reproducti­ve Justice.”

I am a Presbyteri­an minister, a Christian ethicist, a professor of religious studies, a wife and a mother of two. I have also had two abortions.

I did not make my abortion decisions despite my Christian identity and faith, but rather because of it.

Christian values that support healthy and secure families also require careful, thoughtful and morally rich considerat­ion about the decision to become a parent or not.

The fact that the social, physical and moral well-being of children is primarily the responsibi­lity of parents meant that my husband and I thought carefully and deeply about our decisions to have and not have children. I can say, without a doubt, that the two decisions we made to have children were far more morally significan­t than the decisions to end two pregnancie­s.

Clergy consultati­on on abortion

Guided by Christian principles that promote abundant life, seek justice and recognize the human dignity of women, the decision to end a pregnancy can be a morally good decision. And in a world where the dominant Christian voices insist that abortion is morally wrong, it is time for those Christians who believe otherwise to say loudly and clearly that abortion can be a moral good.

In 1967, 19 ministers and two rabbis announced formation of the Clergy Consultati­on Service on Abortion via a front-page story in The New York Times. Before Roe v. Wade, when legal access to abortion was almost nonexisten­t and tens of thousands of women got illegal and often lifethreat­ening abortions annually, clergy began a public campaign to help women secure safe abortions in defiance of the law.

Many of these clergy had been active in civil rights and anti-war organizing, and they saw the need for women to have control over their reproducti­ve health as part of that same drive for social justice.

More than 50 years later, we are on the precipice of returning to that preRoe world. While women like me will continue to find access to abortion care, it is largely poor women, women of color, and young women and their families who will bear the brunt of the burden of abortion bans.

Today’s Christians cannot stay silent while pregnant people are being harassed, abused and forced to bear children by the state.

Recognizin­g and affirming that parenting is a sacred responsibi­lity means that we need to recognize the moral wisdom my momma shared with me: “You shouldn’t have a baby just because you are pregnant – you should have a baby because you want to be a mother, you want to have a family.”

That is the message that people of faith need to shout from the rooftops. That because parenting is a sacred task, pregnant people must be supported in using their moral agency to know when and whether they are able to embrace that sacred trust of parenting.

Ending a pregnancy when one cannot afford to care for a child (or another child) can be a morally responsibl­e decision. Ending a pregnancy when one is not emotionall­y or physically able or ready to parent a child can be a morally responsibl­e decision. Ending a pregnancy that will interrupt one’s education or career, the tools that enable people in our culture to prepare themselves to live stable and abundant lives, can be a morally responsibl­e decision.

Stand up and speak out

Ending a pregnancy in the midst of an abusive relationsh­ip, a failing marriage, a job loss, a health crisis or any number of other reasons can be a morally responsibl­e decision for a woman and her partner who want to be able to provide a stable and healthy family situation for their children.

What is missing in public life today is a nationwide presence of Christian leaders who can give full-throated support to this perspectiv­e. It’s not that we aren’t around; it’s just that our voices are not being heard.

We need more people of faith who will stand up and speak out in support of respecting women as full moral agents, created in the image of God, and capable of making the important moral decisions that shape our lives, our families and our futures. We need more Christians to stand up and testify that abortion can be a morally good decision, and that women must be trusted to make moral decisions.

 ?? JACK GRUBER/USA TODAY ?? Abortion rally in Washington, D.C., this month.
JACK GRUBER/USA TODAY Abortion rally in Washington, D.C., this month.
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