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Recently, Rev. Dr. Serene Jones wrote an article for Salon to speak out against the Texas law banning abortion after a heartbeat is detected. She points to her expertise as a biblical scholar to assert that outlawing abortion is actually not at all godly, and further claims that only conservative people who greatly distort religious texts could fight against a woman’s “right to choose.”

Well, we had a few thoughts and questions in response to that piece.

The first paragraph ends,

“It’s [the war on abortion] grounded in a fundamentally warped interpretation of Christianity.” 

First of all: Are you serious, Rev. Dr. Serene Jones?

What part of the pro-life syllogism relies on some “fundamentally warped interpretation of Christianity?” The syllogism doesn’t even mention any specific or explicit religious group.

Your entire article is deliberately confusing for a reason.

She attempts to argue that the government is trying to use “the power to force women to carry a child to term.” [emphasis added]

Thank you for conceding it’s a child here… but later you claim, “The Bible doesn’t say that abortion is a sin and has no explicit definition of when life begins.” 

Which is it, Serene? Do we not know when life begins or do we know that women are pregnant with children?

Notice the lazy shift here from her assertion about when life begins, which she gives with NO evidence, just an assertion — also, the Bible isn’t a science textbook — to then move immediately to a sleight of hand about Republicans using abortion as an advantageous political point:

“The Bible doesn’t say that abortion is a sin and has no explicit definition of when life begins. The reality is that abortion only became a rallying cry for conservative Christians — and particularly Evangelicals — when Republicans decided it was politically advantageous to do so.”

This entire red herring gives us some context about what evangelical Christians may have thought of abortion early on, but it doesn’t provide us any good answers about when life begins, what abortion is, and a good conclusion about it being right or wrong.

This statement also leaves out hundreds of years of anti-abortion history in the United States, even before the Republican party was ever founded!

Also, let’s conveniently forget about thousands of years of church history (even prior to the Protestant/Catholic split) being against abortion and non-Protestant, non-evangelical Christians leading the charge against legal abortion post-Roe. We love our Catholic brothers and sisters in the pro-life movement! 

We see you, Serene.

You tell us, 

“But it is clear to me that the Christian faith requires protecting the lives and well-being of women by allowing them reproductive freedom, not taking steps to eliminate it. In the Bible, God consistently tells us that all humans are moral agents, fully capable of making their own decisions.”

With these statements:

1) You still haven’t told us what abortion is or what reproductive freedom means. So far these are just meaningless euphemisms.

2) You would logically support all humans making all moral choices regardless of what it is. So you support humans raping? Surely not, right? The logical extreme of the statement you made is repugnant enough that you should rethink the validity of your statement in the first place.

3) You show your underlying assumption, which is that you do not think prenatal humans are humans with moral status or agency. That’s kind of the whole crux of the debate, Serene. You’re assuming the very point you’re trying to make instead of actually justifying it.

That leads us to her next point. 

“It’s important to understand another crucial flaw in the anti-abortion Evangelical movement: The notion that life begins at conception is a very conservative, Christian idea. The government cannot legally impose this interpretation upon others, especially since other faiths directly contradict this belief.”

The notion that life begins at conception is not at all a religious idea. It’s pretty clear that a new human organism begins to exist at Carnegie Stage 1a. The Carnegie Stages of human embryological development has been a well-established international standard of human developmental biology since 1942 based on research classifying embryos in the early 1900s; and the science of embryology dates back to the classical Greek philosophers, at least. 

In fact, Serene, you have absolutely ZERO evidence of this supposed crucial flaw.

We have many non-theist/atheist/secular groups under the pro-life banner. So claiming it’s some type of explicitly “Evangelical Christian” movement is just garbage. Pure fantasy.

Evidence, please.

Serene later points out different possible interpretations of when human life begins according to Judaism to make the point that… contradictions among different faith traditions might exist. Shocking.

How does it follow that a lack of consensus somehow concludes an absence of truth?

You intentionally try to muddy the waters here with various thoughts from other faiths to confuse the reader into not looking deeper at this issue. Shame on you. This is just lazy.

She closes her piece with a paragraph that has some really strong words meant to stir up a deep emotional response… 

“The bottom line is, no government should have the power to force women to carry a pregnancy to term.”

Ok, Serene. That would be nice if it made any sense. But restricting abortion is not forcing any woman to remain pregnant and give birth. The goal is to protect the innocent unborn human being from intentionally being killed by another individual in an unjust manner. You know, someone made in God’s image with a natural right to life.

And by the way, since you don’t seem to know this exists, here is a form of the pro-life syllogism:

Premise 1: It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.

Premise 2: Elective abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being.

Conclusion: Therefore, elective abortion is wrong.

Attack this instead of all these other things you think are important to dismantling our position. There are far better people arguing for abortion than whatever you’re doing. We were frankly disappointed that someone claiming to be a Biblical scholar was making such ignorant claims. Please go pick up a book by David Boonin

Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

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I love science and teaching. I am passionate about using those interests to speak for those who can't.

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.