A Presbyterian minister is receiving pushback from the pro-life community for arguing in a USA Today column that abortion “can be a morally good decision” and for urging Christians to “stand up and speak out in support” of legalized abortion.
Rebecca Todd Peters, a professor of religious studies at Elon University and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), says in a new USA Today column that she had two abortions and considers both to be positive moments in her life.
“I can say, without a doubt, that the two decisions we made to have children were far more morally significant than the decisions to end two pregnancies,” she wrote. “Guided by Christian principles that promote abundant life, seek justice and recognize the human dignity of women, the decision to end a pregnancy can be a morally good decision. And in a world where the dominant Christian voices insist that abortion is morally wrong, it is time for those Christians who believe otherwise to say loudly and clearly that abortion can be a moral good.”
Prior to Roe v. Wade, she wrote, clergy across the country “courageously began a public campaign” to help women obtain abortions in defiance of the law. She encouraged today’s Christians to testify that “abortion can be a morally good decision and women must be trusted to make moral decisions.”
There are multiple ways, she wrote, in which an abortion can be a “morally good decision.”
“Ending a pregnancy when one cannot afford to care for a child (or another child) can be a morally responsible decision,” she wrote. “Ending a pregnancy when one is not emotionally or physically able or ready to parent a child can be a morally responsible decision. Ending a pregnancy that will interrupt one’s education or career, the tools that enable people in our culture to prepare themselves to live stable and abundant lives, can be a morally responsible decision.”
Women, she wrote, are “full moral agents, created in the image of God, and capable of making the important moral decisions that shape our lives, our families and our futures.”
Pro-life leader Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said Peters’ argument is devoid of biblical ethics.
“This is literally what the Bible warns about – those who call evil good and good evil. That is exactly what’s going on here,” Mohler said on his podcast The Briefing.
Abortion, Mohler said, is “self-evidently wrong.”
“How do we know what is and is not a moral good? Who decides what’s good? Who has the authority to tell us what’s good? Well, first of all, biblical Christianity begins with the understanding that only God is good and that whatever good is, we come to know it by God’s own revelation – a good God, the one and only God who is a good God has revealed to us His goodness and the meaning of goodness in the world.”
Mohler also rejected Peters’ assertion that abortion should be endorsed as good because women are “full moral agents.”
“The most conservative pro-life evangelical Christian believes that women are indeed full moral agents,” he said. “But you know what? Full moral agents don’t get to make up the morality. They are responsible for making decisions. They’re either going to do A or B or C, but moral agency does not include the right to invent the entire moral structure. That’s not moral agency. That’s moral insanity.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.