The Specious Roots of the Anti-Abortion Controversy

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

ImageI originally had a guest blog planned for today on a completely different topic, but I ran across an article in Friday’s Huffington Post, that changed my direction. Since I was a youth I have been aghast at the fact that I grew up in a country where such things as homosexuality and abortion were prohibited by law.  It seemed like this was too personal an interference by the State into the personal affairs of people and that this interference often ruined people’s lives. Then too, I grew up in New York State, where for so many years divorce was unobtainable leading to such ridiculousness as Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s wife having to establish Nevada residence in order to obtain a divorce from him. It seemed to me then, as it seems to me now, that religious dogma had no business invading our legal system.

Although there were many prior years of a movement building up in support of abolishing Abortion Laws, the decision of Roe vs. Wade in 1973 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade  was a breathtaking and welcome surprise. Immediately after, however, there started the blow-back against that decision that almost forty years later continues with fervor and intensity. The opposition cites “The Bible” as the source of their angry opposition and claims that their religion, as encoded in “The Bible” describes abortion as murder, with the life of the child beginning at fertilization. When they quote “The Bible” of course they mean the “New Testament” and what they call “The Old Testament”.  Jews actually don’t recognize the term “Old Testament”, to us it is called the “Torah”, since Jews believe that their “Torah” was never replaced by a “New Testament”. The anti-Abortionists need to cite the “Torah” for their beliefs, since the Gospels don’t discuss the abortion issue. Like much that exists in Christian Dogma today, there is a need to cite the “Torah” for their beliefs since there is no evidence in the Gospels that Jesus ever spoke on some matters. Christian “Torah” citation though is haphazard in that they choose what portions to recognize and what portions to ignore. The sentiments of those Christians against abortion are based in the “Torah”. What if their citation of this venerable book stemmed from an incorrect translation of it many, many centuries ago? If they cited it incorrectly in the first instance, doesn’t that destroy their whole argument that abortion is murder in God’s eyes, especially if the writers of the “Torah” never understood abortion to be murder? This is what I’d like to discuss.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach “whom the Washington Post calls ‘the most famous Rabbi in America,’ is the international best-selling author of 29 books” wrote an article in Friday’s Huff Post titled: “Is Abortion in Christianity Based on a Mistranslation of the Bible?”  I have actually met Rabbi Shmuley on two occasions, the second being in Brooklyn, NY outside of the Brooklyn Museum, where he was doing “mitzvot” (translated as good deeds) celebrating the fall Jewish Holiday of “Sukkot”. He was with his son who was studying to be a Rabbi at a Hassidic Rabbinical School. We had a long and warm chat for about 30 minutes that began with my reminding him that we had first met at a lecture of his in Florida, two years past. Having just celebrated the first anniversary of my heart transplant our discussion was of blessings that people receive. He even invited my wife and I to Sabbath dinner at his home, but as it turned out our schedule didn’t permit it. I must mention that Rabbi Shmuley is politically conservative and ran for Congress in this last election as a Republican. Despite the fact that I differ with the Rabbi both religiously and politically, I deeply respect him as a good and wise man. So noting that this article was by him I read it and found myself being informed about biblical belief more concretely than I had understood it in the past.

“For four decades abortion has dominated the social values-debate in America and deeply divided our nation into factions of pro-life and pro-choice. This year Republicans paid a huge price at the ballot box for extreme positions, like not allowing abortion even in the case of incest or rape, with two Republican Senate candidates going so far as to speak of ‘legitimate rape’ and divinely-sanctioned pregnancies that result from rape.

What is lost in this discussion are the Biblical underpinnings of abortion and how this is not primarily a legal issue but a religious one. Opponents of abortion do not look to the Constitution to cement their opposition but the Bible, and, as such, it is worth reviewing the Biblical text pertaining to abortion, which yields surprising results.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/abortion-bible-interpretation_b_2292111.html

This interests me because Rabbi Shmuley is a Republican and for decades much of the grass roots support of the Republican Party has come from the so-called “Right to Life” Movement. Since I know the Rabbi to be a sincere and deeply religious man I can guarantee that his thoughts are not merely “political positioning” in light of his own loss in his Congressional race. What he writes here is the knowledge derived from his years of rigorous training to become a Rabbi.

“The Hebrew Bible [Torah] makes only one reference to abortion, and this is by implication. Exodus 21:22-23 states: “And if two men strive together and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow, he shall be surely fined, accordingly as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, thou shalt give life for life.”

There is a significant parting of the ways in the interpretation of this passage between Judaism and Catholicism which will, in turn, mark the much more lenient rulings on abortion of the former and the much more severe views of the latter. According to the ancient Rabbis, the text is to be read simply as written. The Bible talks of a woman who is hurt by a man in a fight and loses her child. Monetary restitution is paid for her miscarriage. But if the woman dies, then one must take a life for a life. The passage does not say that a fetus is alive but that the mother is.

The words if “no harm follows” the ”hurt” to the woman refers to the survival of the woman following her miscarriage. In that case, there is no capital guilt involved since the woman did not die and the fetus is not considered to be fully alive. The attacker is therefore merely liable to pay compensation for the loss of her “fruit,” her fetus. “But,” the Bible continues,” if any harm follow,” i.e., if the woman, rather than her fetus, is fatally injured, then the man responsible for her death has to “give life for life “The interpretation is straightforward and matches the Hebrew original precisely. According to the Jewish interpretation the Bible only says that the woman, rather than her fetus, is living.”

So we see in Hebrew biblical exegesis and in an accurate translation from the original Hebrew texts there is no conception that destruction of the fetus is murder. What does this do to the arguments of those who supposedly support “right to life”? Can they say that the Christian translation is superior to the Hebrew translation, or might they have cause to wonder if they’ve had it wrong all along? Indeed, “Christian Fundamentalism” asserts that it derives all of its insight from “The Bible” and that since “The Bible” represents “The Word of God” than we cannot dispute it. The question comes down to then which Bible and which translation represents the “Word of God”?

“This interpretation that a fetus is not fully alive and the destruction of a fetus does not carry a death penalty is also borne out by the rabbinical interpretation of the verse defining the law of murder: ”He that smiteth a man, so that he dieth, shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 21:12), which the rabbis construed to mean “a man, but not a fetus.” These passages clearly indicate that the killing of an unborn child is not considered as murder.

But the Christian tradition disputing this view goes back to a mistranslation in the Septuagint, the early Greek translation of the Bible that sometimes contains significant errors (see my book Kosher Jesus for a comprehensive list). There, the Hebrew for ”no harm follow” was replaced by the Greek for “[her child be born] imperfectly formed.”

This interpretation, distinguishing between an unformed and a formed fetus and branding the killing of the latter as murder, was accepted by Tertullian and by later church fathers and was subsequently embodied as canon law and in Justinian law. In the Christian interpretation, therefore, both parts of the verse are referring not to the mother’s life, but to the fetus’. And the verse concludes you must ‘give life for life,’ meaning, a fetus is fully alive and destroying a fetus constitutes murder punishable by death. This is the source for the Catholic position of viewing a fetus’ life as being the equal of a mother’s life and, therefore, even if the mother’s life is at risk one cannot perform an abortion as it constitutes murder.”

So what we are dealing with then is a mis-translation, whether by intention or error. This mis-translation has calcified for years into the Dogma that it has become. Through years of inculcating children with this erroneous belief it is little wonder that so many of those in the anti-abortion movement view the fetus as being alive. The question arises in my mind about how this should affect this current high tension political discussion today. My view is whether you are Christian or not, if you want to use your “Old Testament” (Jewish Torah) as a basis for legal strictures that intimately impact upon people, then you should at least get right what has been put into scripture. You can’t claim authority from god, if your claim is not based on what you believe to be “God’s Word”.

“Judaism, however, strongly disputes this interpretation which is not faithful to the Hebrew original. Therefore, the Talmud declares (Ohalos 7:6): If a woman is in hard travail [and her life cannot otherwise be saved], one cuts up the child in her womb and extracts it member by member, because her life comes before that of the [the child]. But if the greater part [or the head] was delivered, one may not touch it, for one may not set aside one person’s life for the sake of another.” A fetus is only alive when it is born, not before.” 

Rabbi Shmuley has more to say on this and gives his own views on abortion, which are not positive and reflect his religious beliefs and also the varied opinions that Rabbi’s have on it. He does, however, believe that the issue should be removed from the political arena. Please follow the link above to read the rest of the article since I’m sure you will find it informative.

He we are though, still in this “Pro-Life”/”Pro-Choice” battleground. Please don’t think I’m naïve enough to believe that those opposed to abortion will change their viewpoints in light of this. We know that when many people have to choose between their faith and facts, facts invariably lose. I’m putting forth this information for those of us who deeply believe that the State has no business legislating religious beliefs into the Law. Most of us, me included, “melt” emotionally at the sight of a baby. This “melting” reaction is built into our genetic makeup, as indeed it has to be to prolong humanity’s existence. From a propagandists perspective merging the image of a cute baby with a fetus and then asserting that they are one in the same makes a powerful statement, that even “Pro-Choice” people find difficult to deny. Those of us who strongly support a woman’s right to make choices for herself as to her own body must understand that those we oppose don’t even have a religious leg to stand on for their opposition. Our task is difficult because the other side’s use of the baby=fetus meme is powerful propagandistically. Perhaps then in our argumentation for the right of women to choose and in our attempts to educate the public, we need to add this biblical exegesis to our armory of factual rebuttal.

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

31 thoughts on “The Specious Roots of the Anti-Abortion Controversy

  1. Did you ever see Lewis Black’s “Red, White and Black”? If not, you should try to rent or buy the DVD. In it, he goes on a rant about how “our” OLD bible wasn’t good enough, so they had to have a NEW bible, but then proceeded to claim knowledge about our OLD one. He then goes on to tell Christians that if they want to know about the OLD bible, they might want to ask a Jew, as it was their book to begin with. Of course, he tells it much more humorously, and it goes on a lot longer. It’s well worth it. It also covers a lot of the Bush years.

  2. I never really believe that the Catholic Church or any other so called Christian faith ever really thought that the Telmud or the Old Testment supported their stand on abortion. The real basis for this stand is that it gives the men in the religion control over the women’s bodies and ultimately their lives. As soon as the Christian faith became a source of power, that is when it became the state religion of Constantine, a funny thing happened on the way to the altar. All of a sudden women were not worthy, to be priests or bishops as they had been in the early church. But that wasn’t good enough for the male establishment. They had to figure out a way to carol women totally and they found one. Women were no longer allowed to speak in church where they had once preached with authority. The entire anti women movement came from the power lust of the clerical leadership and some very sick ” church fathers” whose writings regarding women are positively chilling. This in a church wherein is supposedly revered as the Mother of Christ.

  3. mike spindell:

    the fetus isnt alive? how do you figure that one? does it magically occur at birth?

    you are kidding, right?

    I dont think you sacrifice an unborn human being for the mother but please, the fetus is a living human being and it does exist.

    It has no consciousness yet and wont become conscious for many months after birth but it is alive and it is human life.

  4. I don’t think your post accurately characterizes the Biblical basis for current Christian arguments against abortion. [You may be on much stronger ground in describing historical opposition to abortion in the Catholic church.] If you google “biblical support against abortion” you’ll find many links. I looked at the first one and it doesn’t even cite the verse you discuss (probably because you’re correct in your interpretation of it!). It does cite many other verses. http://www.priestsforlife.org/brochures/thebible.html. Same is generally true for other links.

  5. Please be careful with that loose use of the word Dogma. God spelled backwards is dog and a dog’s ma is no wiser that the dog. If the religious zealouts really were true to their schmuckMa they would fight against the death penalty. The Sixth Commandment says Thou Shalt Not Kill. The People of the State of Texas kill other people on a regular basis and when challenged on the Sixth amendment they say: Go Read Your Bible. Yeah, they read the Sears Roebuck version but the Ten Commandments are written in stone JoeBob and there aint no exception that says Y’all Can.

    So, anyway bloggers, please give us dogs some respect and insert the word: SchmuckMa for Dogma.

    Otherwise there will be dogs poopin in your yard.

  6. Waldo,

    Followed your link and what I saw there is not only unpersuasive but the Biblical exegesis used seems one where they stretched the text to achieve a desired result as in:

    “The phrase “conceived and bore” is used repeatedly (see Genesis 4:1,17) and the individual has the same identity before as after birth. “In sin my mother conceived me,” the repentant psalmist says in Psalm 51:7. The same word is used for the child before and after birth (Brephos, that is, “infant,” is used in Luke 1:41 and Luke 18:15.)”Luke”

    Now let us look at Luke 1.41:

    “Luke 1:41-45
    New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And [a]how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she who [b]believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her [c]by the Lord.”

    Unfortunately, this same tale doesn’t appear in any of the other three gospels.
    Now here is the problem. Luke is the third of the synoptic gospels and its earliest possible date based on the context of its writing is 85CE. This is most probably fifty years after Jesus’ death. It was a period where Christianity is forming and where an attempt is made to produce an historical document that details Jesus entire biography and reconcile his known teachings with those of Paul who never knew Jesus. Most biblical historians agree that the first two chapters of Luke, were added at a much later date. As Rabbi Shmuley discusses much of the confusion about God’s view of Abortion arose via Tertulian’s misconception of the translation from the “Torah”. Tertulian was born circa 160CE. He had some peculiar views about women:

    “Tertullian is sometimes criticized for being misogynistic, on the basis of the contents of his ‘De Cultu Feminarum,’ section I.I, part 2 (trans. C.W. Marx): “Do you not know that you are Eve? The judgment of God upon this sex lives on in this age; therefore, necessarily the guilt should live on also. You are the gateway of the devil; you are the one who unseals the curse of that tree, and you are the first one to turn your back on the divine law; you are the one who persuaded him whom the devil was not capable of corrupting; you easily destroyed the image of God, Adam. Because of what you deserve, that is, death, even the Son of God had to die.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tertullian#Spurious_works

    It is most probable that Tertulian was just the most influential of the anti-woman strain that ran through some of the Christians in the second and third Centuries CE and that the additions to Luke were made in this era. The entire history of Christianity is complex. However, the premise of religious people is that their sacred texts are the words of God, despite the fact that both the “Torah” and the Christian Bible are texts that have been edited and re-edited through the years. If indeed Jesus is one part of the Holy Trinity, an idea that Tertulian’s writings were known to add to the historical Christian Canon, then I would think that all we could reliably know of Jesus’ beliefs would come from the words of Jesus himself ad not from later interpretations by numerous people all trying to impose their personal beliefs on Jesus teachings.

    Anyway that’s my thought and as I quite clearly wrote in the piece I don’t expect to change believers opinions, nor would I care to. However, this debate is about whether certain Christians should have a right to impose their beliefs on me. In that respect, Rabbi Shmuley, a deeply religious and politically conservative man, who does not approve of abortion, clearly states that imposing the anti-abortion beliefs on our country is not viable.
    If you or your because of your religious beliefs do not want to have an abortion that is your right. Don’t you dare tell me that my children and grandchildren don’t have the right to do something that is not counter to their own beliefs. this is the essence of this argument. Religious people of any faith do not have the right to dictate their religious beliefs to the people of this country. Beyond that, if successful they will not be satisfied to stop there, as shown by the efforts to ban birth control favored by many in the anti-abortion movement during this past year.

  7. “I dont think you sacrifice an unborn human being for the mother but please, the fetus is a living human being and it does exist.

    It has no consciousness yet and wont become conscious for many months after birth but it is alive and it is human life.”

    Bron,

    While I concede the obvious that after being born one should not kill an infant, your implication about the lack of consciousness before birth says it all. The difference is that after birth the infant can live and breathe on its own while developing consciousness, In the womb it is merely a mass of dependent cells.

  8. Mike, I’m not arguing the link I posted makes a good or convincing Biblical argument against abortion. I’m offering it only for the proposition that Evangelicals (and I suspect all modern Christians) do not rely on the verse you discuss to reach their beliefs. Perhaps a misinterpretation of scripture had something to do with the historical development of Catholic anti-abortion beliefs long ago, but that scripture is not relied upon by Evangelicals today.

    I read an interesting article a while back about the change in Evangelicals when it comes to abortion. I wasn’t aware, but in the early 70s before Roe, Evangelicals were not particularly strong anti-abortionists. The article quoted a writing by a Southern Baptist leader basically arguing that a fetus was not the same as a person and basing that opinion on the different treatment in the Old Testament of a fetus and a person. Not sure, but I think this Southern Baptist leader was citing the same verse you discuss.

  9. Great job Mike.
    It amazes me that any Church can rail against women having the choice to decide what happens to their bodies, but have no qualms about hiding child predators from the police for decades. Besides, the bible is just a story book, itsn’t it?

  10. There are indications in Deuteronomy 28 that miscarriage or involuntary abortion will occur if the people become at odds with the law:

    If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands … The fruit of your womb will be blessed …

    That seems to indicate that both human and livestock will have a positive experience as to sex, impregnation, embryo development, and eventual birth.

    However, on the other hand:

    However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees … The fruit of your womb will be cursed

    Would those who accuse doctors of murder for abortion also accuse God of murder for inducing abortion?

    Assuming of course that the “fruit of your womb” is a reference to that process.

  11. good post, mike

    however, where religion is concerned most people i’ve known decide what they want to believe then look for the bible passages to back it up, not read the bible and then form their belief system.

  12. rafflaw 1, December 15, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    … the bible is just a story book, itsn’t it?
    ============================================
    Why do you think West Point loves it so? ;)

  13. Mike

    Excellent piece from start to finish. Our secular government is bound by our Constitution to NOT bow to the demands and dictates of any specific religious sect’s peculiarities over any other in the administration of our laws. The Bible is as irrelevant as the Quran. If we’re not establishing laws based on the latter, we cannot use the former either.

  14. Mike,

    The basis of your article is specious. You seem to believe that any theist, particularly Christians, use their foundational writings such as the bible as a one would use a code of laws, e.g. Penal Code, Welfare and Institutions Code, etc. It seems that you believe that all Christians can only come to believe something is right or wrong if they can cite the chapter and verse that gives permission or restriction.

    This demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of Spiritual Enlightenment. There may be some who approach life’s choices as you have described, but you are missing significant chunks of people who have Spiritual beliefs and understandings that don’t ascribe to that method of values discernment.

    It does not appear to me that you are on an active Spiritual journey. That is not a criticism from me, just an observation. I support your right to attempt a life’s journey believing that we don’t have a Creator. I find it odd and a bit off-putting, therefore, that you make a post about something you know only marginally and only intellectually.

    Peace, Joseph

  15. Joseph Piazza, please describe what you mean by “spiritual enlightenment.” What are the criteria for having achieved it?

  16. “It seems that you believe that all Christians can only come to believe something is right or wrong if they can cite the chapter and verse that gives permission or restriction.”

    Joseph,

    I think you misunderstand me and are reading into my words meaning that doesn’t exist there. All Christians, whether they personally are against abortion, or not, do not support the anti-abortion movement to put into law restrictions on a women’s right to choose. One would be a fool to believe that in the face of the evidence against that position. The results of a quick search: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090210180705AAsUVB8

    While all Christians certainly do not have to cite chapter and verse for their beliefs, Fundamentalist Christians do and as the Rabbi points out Catholics have in first defining their position on abortion. Among the most active in support of overturning Roe v. Wade have been those who believe that their opposition is justified by their Bible, which they believe is God’s immutable word. Yet if you re-read my piece it was not addressed to those who already favor legal restrictions on abortion, but to those who are pro-choice. This is because they find difficulty sometime in having a discussion which devolves into God said it so it must be true. Personally I would look askance at anyone who would presume to know the thinking of their God because they are being presumptuous. Which gets me to this part of your comment:

    “but you are missing significant chunks of people who have Spiritual beliefs and understandings that don’t ascribe to that method of values discernment.”

    Again Joseph you are reading meanings into my words that simply aren’t there. I’m well aware of the striving of many people, of many faiths, to achieve spiritual enlightenment. I would assert though that Fundamentalists are usually not among those on that path. Fundamentalists accept their particular scripture as being on its face “the word of God” and in my opinion miss the meanings behind their scripture. A Fundamentalist is by definition not on a journey towards discovery of spiritual truth, but has already found it immutably.

    “It does not appear to me that you are on an active Spiritual journey. That is not a criticism from me, just an observation. I support your right to attempt a life’s journey believing that we don’t have a Creator. I find it odd and a bit off-putting, therefore, that you make a post about something you know only marginally and only intellectually.”

    Finally Joseph this is insulting and comes from no basis except for your own pre-judgment of me, based on your projection upon what I write. Yesterday on another thread I wrote this as an explanation for what I believe:

    “Even though I was raised a Jew and my religious practice is Jewish, I believe the Torah does not reflect the will of God, but the thoughts of human beings, for good or ill. My experience in life has been such that I ‘m not an atheist, but a Deist. This means that I believe there is a creative force that informs the Universe, but that humanity has not evolved to the point where it can begin to understand the desires of the Creator(s).

    What I know from my experience in life is that I ‘m a person who has mostly treated my fellow human beings in the same way that I would have liked them to treat me. I have also had some personal spiritual experiences that have impacted on me emotionally. I have had prayers mystifying-ly answered and my blessings have been numerous.” http://jonathanturley.org/2012/12/12/prominent-orthodox-counselor-convicted-of-sexual-abuse-of-12-year-old-girl-three-orthodox-men-charged-with-harassingcourt/-victim-in-#comments That was written at 12:12pm yesterday.

    I don’t think you can say that I don’t believe their is a Creative Force afoot in the Universe, when the truth is quite the contrary. As for only knowing about this subject marginally and intellectually you are again letting your incorrect pre-judgment of me, based on an incorrect reading of what I wrote, prevail over my own words. My life and my personal travails have been one long journey to delve into the spiritual meaning of this Universe both emotionally and intellectually. I am a Gestaltist and therefore believe that emotions represent a wisdom of our organism that is the equal of our intellectual understanding. You presume incorrectly far too much Joseph, and frankly your presumptions connote a feeling of spiritual/intellectual superiority that is not complemented by your lack of reading comprehension.

    Peace to you as well.

  17. Mike, I’m confused.

    This confuses me:

    “But the Christian tradition disputing this view goes back to a mistranslation in the Septuagint, the early Greek translation of the Bible that sometimes contains significant errors (see my book Kosher Jesus for a comprehensive list). There, the Hebrew for ”no harm follow” was replaced by the Greek for “[her child be born] imperfectly formed.”

    Are you saying that the Greek translator translated the Hebrew phrase “no harm follow” into “[her child be born] imperfectly formed.”? If so, does not that mean that they replaced “no harm follow” by saying, “the mother gives birth to a deformed child”?

    ???

  18. “The words if “no harm follows” the ”hurt” to the woman refers to the survival of the woman following her miscarriage. In that case, there is no capital guilt involved since the woman did not die and the fetus is not considered to be fully alive. The attacker is therefore merely liable to pay compensation for the loss of her “fruit,” her fetus. “But,” the Bible continues,” if any harm follow,” i.e., if the woman, rather than her fetus, is fatally injured, then the man responsible for her death has to “give life for life “The interpretation is straightforward and matches the Hebrew original precisely. According to the Jewish interpretation the Bible only says that the woman, rather than her fetus, is living.”

    Malisha,

    While the above was in quotes, it was not in the bold/italic I use to denote a quote. So this was from Rabbi Shmuley’s linked article. Yes though the Rabbi is saying that the translation in the Septuagint, written in Greeks,was a mis-translation that significantly changed the meaning of the Torah passage. We know historically that Tertulian was probably a misogynist and perhaps zealously the mis-translation was a case of those of like mind seeing what they wanted to see in the original Hebrew/Aramaic? The early Christian Movement had its factions and one of those factions that gained much traction was the misogynists. They saw women, as personified by Eve to be the evil temptress of men and the burdens laid upon her and Adam by God, as her complete fault.

    If you think about it, isn’t this the crap that many men feel towards women, especially when they sexually transgress by cheating on their wives. “It’s not my fault….I’m just a poor helpless man led astray by a temptress manipulating my
    sexual vulnerability”. Another form of “the devil made me do it”, with the women being the Devil. Now I’ve never cheated on my wife and won’t, but I was very sexually active before my marriage at 37. I can say from experience that men are quite capable of not succumbing to the temptations of a siren, if in fact they are willing to. To bring it back full circle though I really have always believed that the banning of abortions is all about punishing a women for her daring to act on her sexual feelings and at base, though perhaps hidden far down in the psyche, lies a fear and consequent hatred for women.

  19. dr. peter kreeft posed the question in his book, The Unaborted Socrates. if you were in the woods hunting and heard a rustle in the bushes, would you shoot first, or wait and see what it was?

    no one knows when a fetus becomes a human being. we must act on the side of caution and treat it as if it is a human until we know beyond a doubt that it is not. either that, or we all need to agree that murder is acceptable under certain conditions- like we do with war.

  20. Mike,

    Thank you for your civil and thorough response. I apologize for any insult I may have written. My feelings of the reasons abortion are not good for individuals or communities of people come from the entirety of my Spiritual experiences, reading, reflection and reason. If fundamentalists are who are being singled out, then it helps to know that those people are the target of the conversation.

    Unfortunately, on this blog and others, all people of Faith get grouped in one pen. You and I are examples of theists who even disagree on different issues. I appreciate that your responses to our disagreements are intelligent, thoughtful and polite. Thank you.

  21. Joseph,

    Reasonable people can disagree reasonably and your comment that I responded to was a civil one in general, calling for a civil response. I agree with you that we often see people with spiritual beliefs being lumped together and that is unfortunate. I think our atheist friends feel put upon, which is something that does happen and so they reply with scattergun hyperbole.

    While by no means an erudite authority on religion, mythology and human psychology, I ‘ve spent much of my life educating myself on these matters. I believe within them lies the solution to human evolution from the still pitiful state we remain in. Politics, philosophy and all the “isms” people follow seeking nepenthe merely uncover symptoms of the underlying human flaw of egotism and the aggression used in its service.

  22. Jeff,

    It is easy to preach “erring on the side of caution” with a penis between your legs. The problem with anti-abortion laws is like prohibition they’ve never worked, presumed women’s bodies could be appropriated by the State and really are a means of placing women in an inferior position in society.
    The proof is in the overriding concer for the safety of the fetus and the complete disregard of the infant by the anti-abortion advocates.

  23. I’m just really sick and tired of people who identify themselves as either “religious” or [the modern version] “spiritual” dictating how others should behave about things that the society and/or the law do not separately and unequivocally rule on. I feel put upon by “religious” individuals thinking their beliefs should guide my conduct and even my sexual expressions as much as I feel put upon by “spiritual” individuals thinking theirs should make me “forgive” people who do me wrong. Damn! This is all just second- and third- [and ten-thousandth’]hand bullying. If you have read a book that you think makes you qualified to tell me how to live my life, I think you need a little lesson in reading comprehension. And if you think you’ve seen a light that makes you qualified to opine on my vision or lack thereof, think again.

    That said, what the Hell is wrong with these damn dumb translators? Sheesh!

  24. @Malisha ” If you have read a book that you think makes you qualified to tell me how to live my life, I think you need a little lesson in reading comprehension. And if you think you’ve seen a light that makes you qualified to opine on my vision or lack thereof, think again”

    Hear, hear. We hear words like “faith” and “spiritual” and “my cherished beliefs” and through an unrecognizable authority, we also hear the message, “to contradict is to sin.” Even raising the question is not allowed. Once you declare yourself “spiritual” or “enlightened” you are also declaring a criticism-free zone around yourself, regardless of content, no matter the magic-thinking involved, even when demonstrably dangerous ideas of “faith” are forced into our public square. For most, however, this is not an issue. We face a rabid minority whose world is most certainly and necessarily ending. Makes ’em grumpy.

    To reinforce the CiC’s belief that he is at all times on a crusade, as happened with W (and may be happening to Obama), well that’s when we really need to intercede, and not let unspoken authorities stop us from demanding their removal from power, and seating grand juries to discuss matters of criminal behavior. Torture remains utterly unresolved, and it was done “in the lord’s name” for whom many lie for just for kicks.

    An actual spiritual person is known for their works, not for flapping of lips alone. Spiritualism is not an excuse to complain bitterly and then call for the smiting. Ooooh, the smiting…

    Thank you for your continued vigorous clarifications.

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