Friday, November 27, 2009

The ELCA and abortion, courtesy of @justsnapd8


Last night I posted a link to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's Social Statement on Abortion, since @KushielsMoon had asked me for it. I had heard a while back that the ELCA (Lutheran denomination of which I am a member) was pro-choice, but I had never looked much into it. Until last night.

Reading the statement, I was quite proud of my church. The wording, though cautious to make sure it doesn't tick off the antis, shows great respect for the woman, and an understanding of what pregnancy means for her. Every time the fetus is mentioned, the woman and her life and rights are also mentioned.

So I posted this:



@justsnapd8 decided to RT my Tweet, changing it to this:

As you can imagine, this yanked my chain. First of all, READ THE DOCUMENT. Second of all, READ THE DOCUMENT AND DON'T LIE. My church deplores the circumstances that lead a woman to be faced with an unwanted pregnancy, but it understands that abortion is a morally justifiable choice.

We went back and forth on this, but she wasn't able to follow the conversation. It was too taxing to be asked to back up her claims with, you know, accurate statements and facts (those silly things we pro-choicers always go on and on about).

So, I guess after she got some sleep, she wrote this blog post. Where she spent most of her time copying and pasting Tweets between @ProChoiceGal and me, instead of talking about the ELCA's statement.

The following is my response (which I copied and pasted here because I doubted it would survive comment moderation on her blog. Alas, it did, but I was going to write about the ELCA's statement anyway, and after writing my response I realized it said most of the stuff I was going to blog. So here it is):

The ELCA's statement is a 12-page document, and you quote three paragraphs? Don't you think you're missing something?

I know you're used to taking things out of context, but the second part of my Tweet to @ProChoiceGal, where we're talking about our church choices, is kind of relevant and important. If you're interested in truth and honesty, then post the second half of my sentence.

But since you like to deal in isolated quotations, let me give you a few more from the ELCA's statement (emphasis mine):

"The language used in discussing abortion should ignore neither the value of unborn life NOR THE VALUE OF THE WOMAN AND HER OTHER RELATIONSHIPS."

"A developing life in the womb does not have an absolute right to be born..." "The concern for both the life of the woman and the developing life in her womb express a common commitment to life. This requires that we move beyond the usual 'pro-life' versus 'pro-choice' language in discussing abortion."

The ELCA is NOT part of your "pro-life"/anti-choice camp. Even if you only read the quotes you cherry-picked, the church clearly accepts a woman making a choice to terminate a pregnancy. It does not say abortion should be avoided or outlawed, it says "Abortion ought to be an option only of last resort." It says abortion should be an option available to women! Does that sound like an anti-choice organization to you?

Now, to clarify, if you take the time to look at your Twitter stream, you will see that you are the only who told me to look at Section III. That section says (emphasis mine):

"We also deplore the circumstances that lead a woman to consider abortion as the best option available to her. We are moved particularly by the anguish of women who face unintended pregnancies alone. The panic and isolation of such pregnancies, even in the best of circumstances, can be traumatic. Poverty, lack of supportive relationships, immaturity, oppressive social realities, sexism, and racism can intensify her sense of powerlessness. The prospect of having and caring for a child can seem overwhelming.

"We confess our sin as a community of faith. We often have fallen short in respecting God's gift of life and IN PROVIDING CONDITIONS MORE CONDUCIVE FOR BRINGING NEW LIFE INTO THE WORLD."

Regarding sex, it does say, "Marriage is the appropriate context for sexual intercourse." Notice it says "appropriate," not "only." And it follows that with (emphasis mine): "We affirm that the goodness of sexual intercourse GOES BEYOND ITS PROCREATIVE PURPOSE." Alas! Sex JUST FOR FUN without the intent of conceiving IS ALLOWED!

"Whenever sexual intercourse occurs apart from the intent to conceive, the use of contraceptives is the responsibility of the man and of the woman." These statements go against your "pro-life"/anti-choice beliefs in several ways:

-sex outside of marriage is acknowledged and not condemned.
-sex for fun, too; it's not solely for procreation.
-birth control is encouraged.
-the use of birth control rests on BOTH parties' shoulders (i.e., the "blame" is not placed solely on the woman, like most anti-choicers like to do).

But there's more! If we turn the page, we find this:

"Our congregations and church schools ought to provide sex education in the context of the Christian faith." Wow! Sex ed! Look at that!

"It is especially important that young men and young women be taught to exercise their sexuality responsibly." Notice it doesn't say they should be "taught abstinence-only" -- it says they would EXERCISE their sexuality. They are allowed to be sexually active, but we must teach them how to do so RESPONSIBLY.

"It is important that those who counsel persons faced with unintended pregnancies respect how deeply the woman's pregnancy involves her whole person -- body, mind and spirit -- in relation to all the commitments that comprise her stewardship of life."

"This church recognizes that there can be sound reasons for ending a pregnancy through induces abortion." Doesn't this go against the "pro-life"/anti-choice core beliefs???

"What is determined to be a morally responsible decision in one situation may not be in another... We also need to consider the conditions under which the pregnancy occurred and THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE PREGNANCY FOR THE WOMAN'S LIFE." (emphasis mine)

Regarding politics and law (emphasis mine): "What is legal is not necessarily moral, and WHAT IS MORAL SHOULD NOT NECESSARILY BE ENACTED INTO LAW. LAWS CANNOT ENFORCE CHRISTIAN LOVE, but in principle and application they should be just."

"In our attempts to influence the shaping of public policy, WE SHOULD NOT DISREGARD THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS, but work faithfully through the public process by which justice is sought for all."

"Prevention of unintended pregnancies is crucial in lessening the number of abortions. In addition to efforts within church and home, THIS CHURCH SUPPORTS APPROPRIATE FORMS OF SEX EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS, COMMUNITY PREGNANCY PREVENTION PROGRAMS, AND PARENTING PREPARATION CLASSES. WE RECOGNIZE THE NEED FOR CONTRACEPTIVES TO BE AVAILABLE, FOR VOLUNTARY STERILIZATION TO BE CONSIDERED, AND FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT OF NEW FORMS OF CONTRACEPTION." (emphasis mine)

Again, doesn't that sound like the OPPOSITE of what the "pro-life"/anti-choice side fights for??

"Because of our conviction that BOTH the life of the woman and the life in her womb must be respectd by law, this church opposes:
-the total lack of regulation of abortion;
-LEGISLATION THAT WOULD OUTLAW ABORTION IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES;
-LAWS THAT PREVENT ACCESS TO INFORMATION ABOUT ALL OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO WOMEN FACED WITH UNINTENDED PREGNANCIES;
-LAWS THAT DENY ACCESS TO SAFE AND AFFORDABLE SERVICES TO MORALLY JUSTIFIABLE ABORTIONS;
-mandatory or coerced abortion or sterilization; -laws that prevent couples from practicing contraception;
-LAWS THAT PRIMARILY INTENDED TO HARASS THOSE CONTEMPLATING OR DECIDING FOR AN ABORTION."

Again, I have a hard time hearing the "pro-life"/anti-choice argument there... because IT IS PRO-CHOICE.

It even addresses laws about spousal or parental notification or consent: "While we strongly affirm family communication and support, the law should recognize that in some cases husband or partner involvement in the decision could be unwise or dangerous (e.g., if the relationship is broken or violent). If the law requires parental consent when the woman is a minor, it should specify other trusted adults as alternatives if parental involvement is inappropriate or unsafe."

I recommend that anyone wanting to know the full story read the actual document, all of it; it can be found here. After reading the full document, can you honestly tell me the ELCA is not pro-choice?

9 comments:

  1. First of all, I DID read the document. Second, Prochoicegal also read the document as "anti-choice" as you call it. You seem to be the one that doesn't comprehend what the church believes! The church also extends their ministry of hospitality to ALL women, even those that have had abortions. The church also mourns the loss of life, this would include Dr. Tillers. They did not condone Tiller the Killer's actions, they simply mourned the loss of his life.

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  2. @ProChoiceGal noted the document contained anti-choice language, she never said the church was anit-choice.

    Dr. Tiller was a member of the ELCA. Before he was murdered. He was murdered at a Lutheran church. They accepted him, and his profession. His brutal murder came later.

    I've been a member of the ELCA for nearly 2 decades. I've been involved with several ELCA churches because I've lived in different cities. What is your experience with the ELCA? How well do you know their beliefs?

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  3. The church values life, even a murderers life. As they wouldn't turn away women that have abortions, nor would they turn away someone like Dr Tiller. That is not to say they condone his actions, but rather that they were hopeful in saving his soul before he died. Thankfully, most churchs hold true to this task.

    You have challenged others to read and interpret the statement on abortion from the church. I look forward to their honest opinions on the subject.

    I challenge you, ask your pastor.

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  4. I have asked my pastor, thank you. See, I like to know what I'm talking about before I start talking about it.

    Since I have now asked you twice if you're an ELCA member and you have not answered, I'm going to assume the answer is "No." If this is correct, I would really appreciate it if you did not tell me what my church thinks about abortion or doctors like Dr. Tiller. If you were to ask my pastor, or Dr. Tiller's pastor, you would find out neither considers him to be a murderer. So please stop calling him that.

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  5. I doubt you asked your pastor directly if he/she condones abortion. I also doubt that the answer would be yes. Go with your conscience if you have one. As for my being a member of ELCA, of course I'm not. But I think you knew that already.

    As for my telling you what your church thinks, all I did was read the statement and interpret it the way it was written.

    Dr Tiller performed late term abortions. Some of the fetuses were no doubt "viable". It's taking human life, and that's murder.

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  6. *sigh*

    I'm glad you know so much about the relationship I have with my pastor, and what kinds of conversations we have. Thanks for calling me a liar, too, by the way.

    As for your interpretation of the church's statement, you clearly missed something if you think the ELCA is not pro-choice. Or maybe you don't get what "pro-choice" and "pro-life" mean?

    Do you know much about late-term abortions? The procedure is very dangerous for the woman, which is one reason so few doctors perform them. Because of the potential complications for the woman, they are only performed in cases of fetal abnormalities and/or when the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman's health.

    Also, you might want to look up the definition of "murder." Abortion is legal, therefore it cannot be "murder." You can call it "killing," if you feel the need, but it's not "murder."

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  7. ProChoiceGal2:31 PM

    ProChoiceGal here!

    Criss is right. I don't think that the church itself is anti-choice, but I DID notice the anti-choice language used in the document. That's what bothered me. I don't think that the church itself is anti-choice.

    As for Dr. Tiller, notice that in the document, they list fetal abnormalities and cases where the life of the woman is in danger as reasons for "justifiable abortion". Uh, hello? Those are the abortions that Dr. Tiller did! Dr. Tiller didn't perform abortions on women who, on their 39th week of pregnancy, just suddenly decided they didn't want to be pregnant anymore. That is not the reality. The reality is that the women who came to Dr. Tiller were women who WANTED their pregnancies. Sadly, not every pregnancy is like a fairy tale. Not every pregnancy has a happy ending, and brave people like Dr. Tiller and Dr. Hern help those women during those tragic times.

    In that document, they state reasons for justifiable abortions, and then they write this:
    "Beyond these situations, this church neither supports nor opposes laws prohibiting abortion".
    So, the church takes a Pro-Choice stance on what they describe as "justifiable abortions", and they don't take an official stance on other abortions. That is not what I'd call Anti-Choice. It's more of a neutral stance, in my opinion. That bothers me. I understand that they're probably trying to please everyone, anti-choicers and pro-choicers alike, but the ideal would be for them to stand up and take an official stance to support reproductive rights in ALL situations.

    I think it's just wonderful that you seem to know so much about us without actually knowing us, Justspand8. It's creepy in a way, do you read minds??? o.O

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  8. I really don't understand this discussion.

    Pro-Life= abortion should be illegal and never happen.

    Pro-Choice= women should have the right to make up their own minds about their own, individual situations.

    It seems clear that the ELCA statement rests firmly in the pro-choice camp. End of discussion.

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  9. LOVE your whole post. I've been ELCA forever at the same church since I've been there, which is over 20 years, but they've recently left ELCA for some imaginary bullshit synod, like NAMBLA or whatever they call it because they don't like women or gays. I'm one of TWO people in my entire congregation who voted to stay IN the ELCA. Oh well. Now I'm looking for another ELCA church to attend--so glad ELCA gets it right whereas other synods are just mysogynists and homophobes. I'm so proud of the ELCA. Great post. :D

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