Last year I invited Rebecca Terrell, the executive director of Choices, the second largest abortion provider in Memphis, to lunch. During our frank discussion, Rebecca pointed out that in the 1970s major American Protestant denominations, including the Southern Baptist Convention, expressed support for abortion.
Three things altered that reality. First, a coalition of prophetic Catholic and Protestant leaders aroused the larger Christian community, reminding them of the centrality of protecting vulnerable human life. Secondly, the public understanding of fetal development dramatically increased. Lastly, the abortion rights movement moved from advocating abortion in relatively few, difficult circumstances to its present position of “abortion on demand and without excuse”.
Rebecca and I agreed to disagree that afternoon. From my standpoint, protecting an unborn child’s life, no matter what the circumstances of her conception, is the overriding issue. From Rebecca’s side, the free choice and well-being of a pregnant woman trump the unborn child’s right to life.
The Christian pro-life position dates to centuries before 1973. As far back as the Roman empire, Christians rescued unwanted children left to die from exposure. “Do not murder” is the first of a litany of biblical commandments, Old and New Testament, designed to protect the lives of the powerless and vulnerable. Giving and taking life is solely the province of God. The notion that individual rights of choice supersede the right to life is unknown to biblical faith.