Religions and Abortion

There are two questions that are answered differently by people of different faiths and philosophies: when does life begin, and whose welfare is paramount in questions of the fetus versus the person carrying it. These are moral and not scientific questions.

Many Christians believe that life begins at conception, namely the moment when the egg is fertilized. The National Council of Catholic Bishops maintains that Christianity was distinguished in its early days by the rejection of abortion and infanticide, a rejection that continued, and that the life that begins at conception is sacred. However, there is variation among Christian denominations. See the Pew Research report link below.

The National Council of Jewish women has published a scripturally based account of the Jewish position on abortion. Life does not begin at conception, the fetus is not a person, and the rights of the already living person carrying the fetus are paramount in cases of conflict.

Likewise, the American Muslim Bar Association and HEART, a national reproductive justice organization serving American Muslims, have published a statement on abortion and especially on the impact of anti-abortion legislation on marginalized people. They point out that Muslims do not hold a unified view on abortion, and the article contains a strong statement of belief that every person has the right to control their own body and reproductive choices. They associate anti-abortion legislation with colonialism and white Christian nationalism.

The Pew Research Center has put together official positions on abortion from the above plus many other religious communities in The United States. Many of these make a distinction between early and late abortions, and many attempt to make a distinction between abortion as a convenience and abortion for what they consider to be more justified reasons.

What is clear is that to enshrine one religion’s beliefs into law is to create an establishment of religion contrary to the First Amendment.

Author: Pat DeWitt

I am a retired institutional researcher, a musician and musicologist, and support AAUW as well as several environmental causes.

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