The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice Educational Series presents well-informed, balanced explanations on issues related to reproductive choice. Scholars, theologians, and clergy address these controversial issues from diverse religious perspectives.
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Respecting the Moral Agency of Women
by Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott
According to Scripture, God knew that Adam and Eve would misuse their power to choose. Yet God chose to give them that power, creating them "sufficient to have stood, though free to fall." We human beings should follow our Creator's example by giving one another moral elbow room.
Personhood, The Bible, and The Abortion Debate
by Dr. Paul Simmons
Efforts to ban abortion in America have been given considerable momentum by the powerful alliance of militant fundamentalists and conservative political groups. Abortion is obviously only one among many items on their social agenda, but it is the one that is pursued with the greatest zeal. Of particular theological interest is their claim that the Bible is the source of authority and guidance behind the effort to outlaw abortion.
Is the Fetus a Person? The Bible's View
by Dr. Roy Bowen Ward
In the media as well as in countless churches, Americans are being told that the Bible condemns abortion. This invocation of the Bible tends to simplify a very complex issue. Before embarking on a crusade under the banner of God's will according to the Bible, one ought to know just what the Bible does and does not say about God's will in the matter. One thing the Bible does not say is, "Thou shalt not abort."
Religious Liberty: A Heritage at Stake
by Dr. Paul D. Simmons
Americans take justifiable pride in celebrating the religious liberties assured by the First Amendment. Such freedoms should not be taken for granted. They were a long time in being fashioned but are under constant assault from ideological opponents and opportunists.
Abortion: Perspectives from Jewish Traditions
by Rabbi Raymond A. Zwerin and Rabbi Richard J. Shapiro
Whatever their opinions on abortion in any given situation, a vast majority of Jewish thinkers agree that decision-making with respect to abortion must be left in the hands of the woman involved, who may consult her husband, her physician, and her rabbi.
Abortion: A Christian Ethical Perspective
by Dr. John M. Swomley
Roman Catholic and Protestant doctrines differ in, among other things, the degree to which they are legalistic. The Catholic Church would have us obey the rules formulated by the Vatican, but Protestants believe that we are free by grace and justified by faith. The phrase "the sacredness of life" means one thing to Catholic bishops-that the life of the fetus is all-important-but to most people of other Christian denominations it means that there is a presumptive right to life that is not absolute but is conditioned by the claims of others. For us the right to life and the sacredness of life mean that there should be no absolute or unbreakable rules that take precedence over the lives of existing human persons.
How Good Women Make Wise Choices
by Rev. Nancy Rockwell
Praise for the goodness of women who wisely manage their situation pervades the Bible. It is present in the widow who saves the prophet Elijah from starvation and shelters him in her house. We find it in Miriam, Moses' sister, who was a leader among women (Exod.15:20-21). Rebekah, who schemed for her son Jacob's survival, was a wise woman (Gen. 27). So were Deborah, a judge who saved the nation by arranging the murder of an enemy leader (Judg. 4), and Abigail, the wife of a drunkard, who saved her household by skilled diplomacy with David's guerrilla army (1 Sam. 25).
None of the choices made long ago by those biblical women were easy. Their moral and their sexual decisions were not clearly right or wrong, but they are remembered in the religious record as women who wisely handled difficult situations.
Considering Abortion? Clarifying What You Believe
by The Rev. George Luthringer
My church begins its public statements on the choices you face with the simple pronouncement that "all human life is sacred." In doing so it hopes, I think, to promote respect for the newly conceived lives within pregnant women. But those words in fact proclaim something much more important-the sacredness of the lives of women, of your life.
The Really Good News: What the Bible Says About Sex
by The Reverend Debra W. Haffner, MPH, M.Div.
Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament directly address sexuality issues and send messages that are quite different from what most people are taught in their religious groups and denominations. In fact, many of the stories and many of the laws contain information to help people understand the important role that sexuality plays in their lives.
By studying the Bible, readers can see how the people who created scripture understood sexuality. And, in the process, they can also gain personal insights into the Bible's ability to speak to all of us today on these moral issues.
The Continuum of Choice in Sanatana Dharma
by Swami Abhipadananda and Swami Jyotir Vakyananda
Two practitioners of Kriya Yoga elucidate the meanings of reproductive choice in the Sanatana Dharma tradition, as Hinduism was originally known. The tradition holds that life is without beginning or end. Consequently life does not begin at conception or end with the death of the body. In the oldest texts of Hindu philosophy, the Vedas , this cycle is called re-death, emphasizing the idea that human beings acquire experiences through living and then die in order to manifest a new body more suited to the fulfillment of their new dreams and desires.
From Infertility to Spiritual Abundance
by Reverend Dr. Linda Mercadante
Infertility, while not sent of chosen by God, can nevertheless become something that divine creativity can use for good. There is a way that infertility can open us up to a more radical hospitality than we have ever known. It helps to realize that biological reproduction does not hold supreme value in the Bible. Instead, we are called to a deeper and wider bond.
Sexuality as a Locus of Spirituality
by Kee Boem So
Christian understanding of sexuality has a long history. Based on a deep spirit-body dualism, Christianity identified human sexuality with sin. This association of sexuality with sin became an oppressive tool and was also a rationale for condemning those outside the heterosexual norm. This paper deals with this issue and at the same time constructs a healthy view of human sexuality in relationship to spirituality.
Human Stem Cells: Research and Respect
by Betty B. Hoskins, Ph.D.
The question of human embryo research is often presented as an "either/or" dilemma-either human tissue in any form or stage of development is sacred and therefore cannot be destroyed for any purpose; or the potential for life-saving cures overrides all other ethical considerations. The author, a professor of biology, suggests that embryos from which we derive human stem cells are both worthy of respect AND can be useful tools toward potential cures for serious human diseases. She offers a framework for people of faith to understand these seeming contradictions.
Freedom, Responsibilty, and Reproductive Choice: A Pagan View
by Judy Harrow, M.S.
The only law that truly binds Pagans is the law that binds all, the adamantine law of cause and effect, which condones nothing and condemns nothing. This is "law" in the same sense as the law of gravity: descriptive rather than prescriptive. Descriptive law cannot be circumvented or evaded, because what it describes is real-impartial and implacable as Nature herself. Every action we take necessarily affects the whole system.
Islamic Tradition and Reproductive Choice
by Khaleel Mohammed, Ph.D., Professor of Religion, San Diego State University
One of the main considerations in the Islamic discourse on abortion has to do with the concept of ensoulment. Strangely, the Qur'an has no concept of the neo-Platonic soul-body dualism that has come to be almost unanimously accepted as the Islamic weltanschaaung.
Law, Religion, and Fetal Personhood
by Professor Jean
Dean, School of Politics
Claremont Graduate University
The question of when a fetus is endowed with “personhood” is fundamentally
religious and theological. This paper explores the legal basis of fetal personhood and how recent laws may affect access to abortion.
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