- When someone argues that the government should limit abortion in any way, they're accused of injecting religion into politics, or legislating religion, or even trying to create a theocracy. No really, that's last one is real, not some straw man. For example, it's what Slate's Amanda Marcotte claimed was going on when South Dakota required a three-day waiting period for abortion. Full disclosure: I can't find the three-day waiting period for abortions anywhere in the Bible, but perhaps Ms. Marcotte and I use different versions (my Bible has a simpler, if tougher, rule: Exodus 20:13).
- On the other hand, when someone mentions abortion from the pulpit, they're accused of politicizing religion. In fact, the Catholic Church was sued back in the 80s for fighting against abortion. The argument was that abortion was a legislative issue that the Church had no business addressing.
So the issue is too religious to be spoken about in political circles, and too political to be spoken about in religious circles. In other words, you can never question legalized abortion anywhere, at any time.
These two arguments, in tandem, appear to be part of a campaign to silence pro-life voices, to remove opposition to abortion from the public sphere completely, and to recast it as thinly-veiled misogyny. And the pro-choicers who do so are aided by a simple, and obvious fact. Abortion really is at the nexus of religion and politics.
After all, the question of abortion relates to issues both moral and ethical, like whether or not it's acceptable to take the life of a fetus. And it deals with a line of Supreme Court cases (starting with Roe) that run squarely against the teachings of most major religions.
Of course all sorts of issues relate to both political and religious issues: slavery, the minimum wage, war, the death penalty, gay marriage, immigration, and so on. On these issues, quite sensibly, both religious and political leaders speak out vocally, because both religious and political leaders have (a) strong beliefs on the issue, and (b) a responsibility to see the issue handled appropriately. So the fact that abortion is political and religious is reason for both groups to speak about it, not neither.
The pro-choice side has redefined the debate pretty effectively. No longer is the question, when does life begin? That's a biological one, and a basic one. It begins at conception. Instead, they ask the question, when does "personhood" begin? That question is vaguely religious or philosophical. And we're told that anything religious must be a private opinion, unfit for public policy.
There are three major points to remember:
- Just because your morals are shaped, in whole or in part, by religion doesn't mean that you have to ignore them in the public sphere. Religion belongs in the public sphere.
- While revealed religion isn't an acceptable basis for American public policy (e.g., you can't legislate that everyone attend Mass, or believe in Jesus), morality is, and always has been.
- Many issues, particularly moral ones, are both religious and political. Expect -- demand, even -- to hear about them in both the realm of religion and politics. Press your political and religious leaders to speak out on the pressing moral issues.
The opponents of the pro-life movement want to strip it of its voice, and silence it completely. Stay fervent, and bear the above points in mind, so that this doesn't happen.