“These little pain-capable unborn children of God” was just one of the phrases uttered during the U.S. House of Representatives’ recent floor vote to further restrict access to abortion. As representatives passed a ban on abortions after the 20-week mark, many used their faith as a justification for their unconscionable vote.
With the myriad ways that God was invoked on the House floor, one might reasonably assume that the Almighty had sent a gilded memorandum, replete with red letters to the Speaker of the House.
Let’s be very clear: The Bible says nothing about abortion. Anyone who tells you otherwise is offering you their inaccurate interpretation of scripture. But let me tell you what is in the Bible: compassion. Indeed, compassion and love of neighbor are common to many faith traditions.
We read in Zachariah that God proclaims: “Make just and faithful decisions; show kindness and compassion to each other.” Paul writes in Colossians that we ought to, “Put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” And in the Quran, compassion is the most frequently used word.
It’s simple: Our faith traditions call us to acts of justice and compassion. Yet that isn’t what anti-choice legislators are offering.
When the 20-week ban comes before the Senate, I would urge pro-choice Senators and reproductive justice advocates to speak in the language of their faith. We do so because decisions about reproductive health and whether and under what circumstances to become a parent are among the most sacred decisions we make.
Women seek abortions for many different reasons. God trusts and empowers us to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families. It’s not our place to judge a woman’s personal decisions. God calls us to offer compassion, respect, and support so she can be at peace with whatever decision she makes. We believe this not in spite of our faith, but because of it.
And we’re not alone.
Most Americans, most people of faith, and even the vast majority of Christians believe abortion should be legal in at least some circumstances. Despite this fact, anti-choice legislators have been pushing an agenda to force women to jump through as many hoops as possible. These elected officials have fought for 20-week bans, TRAP laws, waiting periods and funding restrictions. Taken together, anti-choice legislators have successfully put abortion out of reach for too many women who deserve access to the full range of compassionate healthcare. Our faiths call us to publicly witness that we stand with those women and demand the access to care they deserve.
Rev. Harry Knox is president & C.E.O. of The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.