By now the whole country has heard of the imminent possibility of overturning the legal precedent of Roe v. Wade, which provides the foundational grounds upon which access to abortion care and reproductive justice in this country has been laid. As women and ordained clergy, we are angry. We are furious.
Not because we didn’t see the writing on the wall — we did — and not because we have not been organizing against this grave possibility — we have. No, we are furious because America has been lied to about who God is and what Jesus offers to the world. Those who would have you believe that to be a Christian means that you must be anti-abortion have hijacked Jesus into their predatory patriarchal program. This is not of God. This is not who Christ is.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” We believe Christ does not come to harm the autonomous lives of women. We believe the real danger standing between God and God’s people is removing free will and choice. As Baptists, we affirm the freedom each soul has to choose life. Real life. A full and abundant life.
Denying essential health care to include safe and legal abortion access to anyone as a presumed Christian morality test is anti-scriptural and out of line with the foundational tenants of Christian faith — free will, grace and radical unconditional love. It is out of line with Jesus’ call to a full and abundant life. It is out of line with a God who seeks us in the suffering, walks with us in the muck and pain, and desires our liberation from oppression and harm.
This draft decision and the entire mindset it represents take us down a fast slope back to truly horrific days. This ethic of control and subjugation requires women to submit to mental health evaluations, to receive permission from husbands or fathers for a tubal ligation, or to have someone other than their doctors sign off on a hysterectomy, and to continue to allow insurance companies to discriminate against unmarried women seeking IVF and other fertility treatments.
“This draft decision and the entire mindset it represents take us down a fast slope back to truly horrific days.”
We are made in God’s image, male and female, and we are all sacred. Any public policy that places one group as superior to another, such as those ceding medical decisions to a woman’s husband or father, also stands against this fundamental theology.
To honor Christ and be pro-life we must kneel and draw the line in the sand, acknowledging that none are able to cast the first stone. We must stop projecting a “pro-life” moniker on the conservative right who would deny abundant life to the woman standing before them making a medical decision that is best for her. We must identify them as they are — ”fundamental birtherists.” We no longer can call theirs a “pro-life” stance.
For to be pro-life is to ensure all means to a full and abundant life. To be pro-life means we choose to:
- Provide free and uninhibited access to maternal health care.
- Support paid parental leave.
- Abolish institutionalized poverty and provide stable, safe living conditions, access to food security, sustainable employment and education.
- End institutionalized racism.
- Teach comprehensive sex education.
- End sexual exploitation.
- Provide access to all mechanisms for family planning from contraception to IVF and adoption.
As women of faith who have provided pastoral care to others who have sought abortion care, we know this is a complex conversation that we never entered into lightly. But as God is compassionate, entering into suffering with us, so too are we compassionate with our sisters who have had a fetus die within their wombs, and the ones who have been raped and coerced into sex, and those who have experienced incest and sexual trauma, and the many who are breaking curses of generational poverty, and the litany of others who merely request full autonomy over their bodies — all who deserve to live full and abundant lives.
Prohibiting equal access to legal, safe and accessible abortion care will never end abortions; it will only discriminate against and endanger more people.
Stephany Rose Spaulding is pastor emeritus of Ebenezer Baptist Church of Colorado Springs, a community activist, author and former tenured associate professor of women’s and ethnic studies. Jessica Abell is founding pastor at Living Waters Community Church in Denver and works primarily in climate justice and interfaith worlds. She lives into the Baptist call for a theology of the social gospel through activism, writing and preaching and the arts.
It is a lie | Opinion by Dwight A. Moody
Alito and public opinion reveal the link between Roe and a broader white Christian nationalist agenda | Opinion by Robert P. Jones
Roe v. Wade, the great divider | Analysis by Erich Bridges