Updated: May 16, 2021
Confession time: I haven't always considered myself pro-life. Even whilst I was a Christian, I used to not be bothered by abortion, not wanting to reduce the dignity of women and their 'choice'. Truth be told, I find the dichotomy of pro-life vs. pro-choice really unhelpful, and I suspect that many Christians feel the same way. However, I have shifted in my view, and I acknowledge that abortion makes me uncomfortable.
Toxic masculinity, patriarchy and choice
'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus' - Galatians 3:28 (ESV)
Patriarchy is a sin, and the church will continue to struggle to flourish until it tackles the warped ideologies it spiritualises head-on. The church is not being counter-cultural through oppressing women, but rather merely reflecting our society.
I do believe that God gives us free will. Therefore, choice is not inconsequential to me, but I believe in a world in which women feel like they need to choose abortion, then they do not actually have genuine choice over their lives. Our patriarchal culture finds women's fertility inconvenient.
The birth control elephant in the room
Of course, to hold such a view about abortion, I feel requires me to hold other particular views about sex and contraception. I do, personally, hold a high view of sex, which considers sex sacred and therefore best expressed within the marital context. I don't believe that contraception is sinful, and therefore should be used as a helpful tool to prevent pregnancy in the first place, thus lowering the abortion rate.
The roles of the legislature and the church
In 2019, abortion was removed from the criminal code in NSW. At the time, I remember a Christian minister writing that he disagreed with the change, while likewise believing that nobody should never be prosecuted for having an abortion.
While I understand his point of view, I disagree:
The law, unfortunately, needs to be more black-and-white than our morality ought to be.
When abortion is illegal, doctors are afraid of prosecution and can therefore be inhibited from saving women's lives, even in cases of much-wanted pregnancies.
Therefore, I support abortion not being criminalised. Legalisation is more of a grey area, but I support it (albeit hesitantly) where it places regulation which protects women's lives.
Within this context, the church therefore has the responsibility to pastorally and practically come alongside women facing unplanned or unwanted pregnancies. It is vital that sexual ethics do not get in the way of offering support. Sadly, the church is the last place that many women trying to decide whether or not to continue with their pregnancies would go to.
Being more than pro-birth
I don't believe that abortion is a good thing, and that's the way that I choose to express my point of view. Mostly it just therefore means that I'm frustrated by everyone. I'm frustrated that women die because life is only valued by some while it's still in the womb. I'm frustrated that patriarchy robs women of agency over their bodies and lives in every single way.
I want a better way - a way shaped by radical love and community, which leaves nobody behind.