Monday, February 20, 2012

Evangelical Views on Abortion Are New

There has been a rumble in the background for as long as I can remember, religious extremists opposing abortion even for people who are not members of their religion. People claiming to be Christians have been hassling women at abortion clinics for decades, waving their signs with pictures of fetuses on them, bombing clinics, shooting at doctors. They are responsible for a significant portion of American terrorism. I can't remember a time when this background noise -- which moves to the foreground for those women who need abortion services and often have to confront violent crowds -- did not exist. I assumed it has always been that way, at least since abortion became a safe medical procedure, in approximately the 1930s.

Turns out that is not the case. Slacktivist blogger Fred Clark had an informative post this week, noting that evangelicals had no big problem with abortion, not so long ago.
[In 1968] Christianity Today — edited by Harold Lindsell, champion of “inerrancy” and author of The Battle for the Bible — published a special issue devoted to the topics of contraception and abortion. That issue included many articles that today would get their authors, editors — probably even their readers — fired from almost any evangelical institution. For example, one article by a professor from Dallas Theological Seminary criticized the Roman Catholic position on abortion as unbiblical. Jonathan Dudley quotes from the article in his book Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics. Keep in mind that this is from a conservative evangelical seminary professor, writing in Billy Graham’s magazine for editor Harold Lindsell:
God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed. The Law plainly exacts: “If a man kills any human life he will be put to death” (Lev. 24:17). But according to Exodus 21:22-24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense. … Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.

Christianity Today would not publish that article in 2012. They might not even let you write that in comments on their website. If you applied for a job in 2012 with Christianity Today or Dallas Theological Seminary and they found out that you had written something like that, ever, you would not be hired.

At some point between 1968 and 2012, the Bible began to say something different. The ‘biblical view’ that’s younger than the Happy Meal

The blogger quotes from Dudley's book. It is surprising, given the furor over abortion that we accept as part of the background noise of our society, to realize that not-so-many years ago these same people believed just the opposite. History is nothing more than memory, and memory can be influenced by events that occur between the moment of encoding and the moment of recall. This is a perfect example of that.

From Dudley:
By the mid-1980s, the evangelical right was so successful with this [anti-abortion] strategy that the popular evangelical community would no longer tolerate any alternative position. Hence, the outrage over a book titled Brave New People published by InterVarsity Press in 1984. In addition to discussing a number of new biotechnologies, including genetic engineering and in vitro fertilization, the author, an evangelical professor living in New Zealand, also devoted a chapter to abortion. His position was similar to that of most evangelicals 15 years prior. Although he did not believe the fetus was a full-fledged person from conception, he did believe that because it was a potential person, it should be treated with respect. Abortion was only permissible to protect the health and well-being of the mother, to preclude a severely deformed child, and in a few other hard cases, such as rape and incest.

Although this would have been an unremarkable book in 1970, the popular evangelical community was outraged. Evangelical magazines and popular leaders across the country decried the book and its author, and evangelicals picketed outside the publisher’s office and urged booksellers to boycott the publisher. One writer called it a “monstrous book.” … The popular response to the book — despite its endorsements from Carl F.H. Henry, the first editor of Christianity Today, and Lew Smedes, an evangelical professor of ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary — was so overwhelmingly hostile that the book became the first ever withdrawn by InterVarsity Press over the course of nearly half a century in business.

The book was republished a year later by Eerdmans Press. In a preface, the author noted, “The heresy of which I appear to be guilty is that I cannot state categorically that human/personal life commences at day one of gestation. This, it seems, is being made a basic affirmation of evangelicalism, from which there can be no deviation. … No longer is it sufficient to hold classic evangelical affirmations on the nature of biblical revelation, the person and work of Christ, or justification by faith alone. In order to be labeled an evangelical, it is now essential to hold a particular view of the status of the embryo and fetus.”

The strange thing is that evangelicals claim to believe in timeless truths embedded in ancient teachings. It comes straight from The Bible, all of it, this is what they believe and it is what Christians have always believed.
By the time of the 1988 elections, everyone in American evangelicalism was wholly opposed to legal abortion and everyone in American evangelicalism was pretending that this had always been the case.

They did not only change their believe about abortion, they also revised their belief about their belief, they revised the history of the belief. Opposition to abortion is now a litmus test for the born-again movement, where one generation ago they felt just the opposite.


Anonymous Evidence of GOP war on women's rights said...

Silent protest delays vote on bill to probe the vagina of every VA women, willing or not, who seeks an abortion.

Vaginally probing a woman who declines to allow her vagina to be penetrated is rape.

Check out the pictures

"The Virginia House was scheduled to vote today on the unbelievably insane Republican bill that would make it compulsory for women seeking abortions to first be penetrated by a vaginal ultrasound probe, but after this demonstration developed they decided to postpone the vote: Silent Protest Outside, Virginia House Puts Off Ultrasound Vote.

What appears to be a crowd of several hundred people gathered today at the Virginia state capitol. Standing silently in the cold, they lined the walkway used by the legislators who have been voting on -- and voting away -- women's rights in Virginia.

From their Facebook page:

"The Capitol ground rules say that we cannot assemble, hold signs, chant, yell or protest. We think silence in the face of this struggle and their unconstitutional rules presents the strongest response to their assault on women. Please come out and stand up for our rights and for the rights of all women in VA to choose the best reproductive route for themselves. These people are used to signs, yelling, chanting etc. It is not new. They are not used to silently being stared at and having to look us in the eye. It gives us the power."

A new poll out today from the Christopher Newport University and the Richmond Times-Dispatch shows Virginia's Republican majority to the right of Virginians. About 55 percent of them say they don't like the measure that would require women seeking an abortion to first undergo a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound. The Richmond paper reports the House was to vote on the bill today, but its patron chose instead to hold off for the day."

It's not exactly like the Pepper Spraying cop spraying pepper spray in seated protestors faces, it's even more personal this time. Virginia legislators will vote to on a bill that would force doctors to rape women who are already facing and seeking to end their unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.

February 21, 2012 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Join the protest against forced rape of Virginia women who seek abortion services.

Pro-Choice Day of Action

Join NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and the Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition in a location close to you on February 23 for our statewide Pro-Choice Day of Action -- or participate from home in this virtual lobby day!

February 21, 2012 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really!?! With Seth and Amy

February 21, 2012 12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Non-consentual penetration of a woman's vagina is the definition of rape

February 21, 2012 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"UPDATE: For the second day in a row, the Virginia House of Delegates has passed on voting on a controversial bill requiring ultrasounds for women getting an abortion.

The House decided late Tuesday morning to delay the vote after doing the same on Monday.

Opponents say the bill would force women to undergo unwanted, unnecessary invasive procedure."

Apparently it's a lot easier to vote for these draconian anti-women bills when the world is not watching so naturally the GOP cowards who came up with the idea to rape every women who must seek an abortion in the state of Virginia have delayed their vote once again.

February 21, 2012 3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Confirmed! The Governor of Virginia reads and changes his mind based on public polls!

"WASHINGTON -- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) revoked his support for a GOP-sponsored bill that would require women to undergo a physically invasive transvaginal ultrasound procedure before having an abortion on Wednesday, just minutes before the House of Delegates is expected to debate and vote on the bill.

"Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state," McDonnell said in a statement. "No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure."

"For this reason ... I am requesting that the General Assembly amend this bill to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily. I am asking the General Assembly to state in this legislation that only a transabdominal, or external, ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age. Should a doctor determine that another form of ultrasound may be necessary to provide the necessary images and information that will be an issue for the doctor and the patient. The government will have no role in that medical decision," he said.

Members of the state legislature speculated Wednesday morning that Republicans were looking for a way to rewrite the bill to avoid having to fully back down from it, and Del. Jennifer McClellan (D) tweeted from the House floor around 2:30 pm that "a substitute to the ultrasound bill is being circulated."

"A lot of rumors are floating around this building that the Republicans are trying desperately to find some way out of this Pandora's box," said a top legislative staffer who works with Virginia's Democrats. "I think the sponsors didn't realize when this law passed in North Dakota that this was an intrusive ultrasound. But it would look terrible with their base if they backed down now and didn't pass it."

Democratic State Sen. Barbara Favola said she also heard Republicans lawmakers may be buckling under pressure from women voters. "They're backing off because they're now hearing from women about it," she said. "Yesterday we had hundreds of women line the walkway between General Assembly and the Capitol in silent protest."

The Virginia General Assembly postponed a vote on the bill twice before taking it up on Wednesday. It has generated a firestorm of controversy because it would force doctors to perform an invasive, often medically unnecessary procedure on women without requiring their consent. Del. Charniele Herring (D) said the law was "akin to rape," and fellow Democrat David Englin pointed out that "object sexual penetration is a serious sex crime in Virginia."

Jon Stewart lampooned the law on "The Daily Show" Tuesday night, prompting former Virginia Gov. and current Senate candidate Tim Kaine to scold Republicans for turning the state into a "laughingstock" and "fodder for late-night comedy shows."

"I don't want Virginia to be known as a state carrying out an extreme and even comical campaign against women and their health care choices," Kaine told reporters on Wednesday."

February 22, 2012 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Virginia Gov. McDonnell’s abortion crucible

GOV. ROBERT F. McDONNELL and some of his fellow Virginia Republicans are shocked, shocked. It turns out that legislation mandating a costly, coercive, medically unnecessary ultrasound procedure would be physically invasive and personally offensive for thousands of women seeking abortions in the state.

So Mr. McDonnell, possibly worried that his vice presidential prospects could evaporate in the intensifying heat and glare of the national abortion debate, has flipped. Previously an enthusiastic advocate of the ultrasound bill — and almost every other measure anti-abortion purists could dream up — the governor suddenly reversed himself and cut his losses. On Wednesday he declared, “No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition” to abortion.

Faced with tens of thousands of petition signatures, ridicule from Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” and vigils in Richmond by the bill’s opponents, the governor proposed amendments to water down the legislation before enactment.

Until Wednesday, the governor and other advocates of the ultrasound measure hadn’t concerned themselves much with the details of what the state should require. In their anti-abortion fervor, they thought that requiring ultrasounds, even transvaginal ones, was justified if it would change the minds of some women who’d considered ending their pregnancies.

The vast majority of the bill’s advocates, in Virginia as in seven other states that have enacted similar legislation, are Republicans who decry government intrusion — into health care, public schools, private industry, you name it. Mr. McDonnell has even objected to full-body pat-downs by security personnel at airports. But until the political winds shifted, a state-mandated probe inserted into the vagina was fine by him.

The decision to perform an ultrasound before abortion is a medical one that rightfully should be made by a patient and doctor in consultation. When lawmakers and governors intervene in that decision, they politicize women’s health care. Even now, in its amended version, the Virginia legislation would require an abdominal ultrasound of women seeking an abortion — again, a decision best left to a woman and her physician. Not only that — it would require the woman to pay for the procedure, whether she wants it or not. This from the folks who say the government can’t make you buy health insurance.

February 23, 2012 3:08 PM  

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