The following is a conclusion of research paper that focused on the church’s ethical approaches to abortion. If you wish to read the full paper, please view it here.
Abortion must now be understood only as a tool that women use to protect themselves from various kinds of harm that can be inflicted on them by individuals and society.
Old ethical approaches based in a moralizing, misguided consequentialist view that “abortion is murder” and is only needed because women are selfish and sexually immoral, must be completely retired. The pro-choice arguments that rely on emphasizing a woman’s right to dictate her own morality must also be retired.
The modern, effective, and faithful ethical approach to abortion must understand abortion only as means for women to protect themselves. People of faith should certainly be concerned that all women have access to safe and legal abortions, but because abortions are a tool for women to protect themselves from harm and women being harmed to any degree is unjust, the focus for people of faith should really be on ending and transforming the systems, patterns, and practices that harm women, whether they be in society, in family, or in the faith community.
Christianity’s historical push against abortion, in particular, has damaged the church’s ability to provide a message of hope and good news to women. The irony of a religious tradition started by an unmarried pregnant woman having little concern for the well-being of pregnant women is stark. Instead of aborting her baby, maybe Mary was forced to create the story of the divine conception of Jesus in order to protect herself from the dangers of being an unmarried pregnant woman in a deeply patriarchal society.