A Religious Pro Choicer – Stephen Spillane

Guest blog by Stephen Spllane who blogs at StephenSpillane.com and SpiritualityIreland.org.

Some people believe that it is impossible to be a practicing christian and be pro choice on the issue of abortion. But while it is true that a lot of Christians are pro-life, we all are not. Many of Ireland’s most militant pro-lifers are of course Roman Catholics, but other Christian denominations often get associated with them.

It is worth noting that in 1982 the Irish Council of Churches- the representative body for Protestant churches in Ireland- voiced concerns over the 8th Amendment. While all of them did oppose ‘abortion on demand‘, they foresaw reasons why an abortion should be an option.

This was repeated at the recent hearings in front of the Oireachtas Health Committee.

So how can you be a Christian and Pro-Choice?

Earlier this year I found this quote from Victor Griffin, the Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, in 1982:

Abortion is morally wrong. However, at some time there may be rare unfortunate cases in which it is resorted to as the lesser of two evils. It is wrong to enshrine the Catholic view of this in the constitution

While for some abortion will always be morally wrong, who are we say to say it is morally right for a child to be born no matter what?

Morals to me are a personal thing. While there are very big moral positions that we all share (we should not steal, we should not kill etc), when abortion comes into the question everything goes a little grey. There is no hard and fast rule that we can apply as many on the Pro-Life side believe. We cannot impose our morals on others as we are not in their shoes. We are not in their position. If we were would we not like a choice? I know I would. Wouldn’t you?

Have we the right?

I recently came across an article on the website for the Association of Catholic Priests. The title caught my eye- “have we the right to insist no woman can ever have an abortion in Ireland?” That is the crux of the argument for me.

Why should anyone decide that a medical treatment cannot be given to you because of their religious beliefs? At the end of the day, that is why abortion is illegal in this country. It is because we decided way back in 1983 to enshrine that “Catholic view” of conception into our constitution. How is that right for those who are not Catholic? Or those who do not subscribe to all of the Church’s teachings? There’s plenty of those Catholics around!

Does it mean that if we had a Jehovah Witness majority in this country that we would have voted to ban blood transfusions? Its crazy. I have the greatest respect for Jehovah Witness’, Jews and Muslims who do not try and make those around them obey the same religious laws as them. It is time the Roman Catholic Church (and other Christian Churches) did the same.

We as Christians should be looking inwards and ensuring we live our lives right, as that is what we are asked to do during Lent. We should not be stopping women from choosing what they do with their bodies when it will have no effect on us. It is ridiculous that Churches in this country want to prevent women of other faiths and none from having an abortion.

While I envisage there will be some discussion at the Church of Ireland Synod later this year on this issue, I am not sure what way it will go going by the discussion last year on Human Sexuality, but it will be divisive. But it will most likely set the tone for the conversation in the wider society on this issue.

I look forward to the Government finally bringing in legislation on this issue, and it finally being allowed.

A Religious Pro Choicer – Stephen Spillane