NRL News

The moral incoherence of the “progressive Christian argument” for abortion

by | Feb 26, 2018

By Dave Andrusko

It’s always a clarion call whose message is unmistakable. Whenever a review of a book about abortion starts with something like “In this courageous, personal book,” you know (a) it’s written by a woman who has had at least one abortion, and (b) all of us guys will be disqualified from having a pro-life position because we can never be in a position to actually have an abortion. (Never mind that men, by their lack of support for a woman experiencing a crisis pregnancy or by their acts of coercion, can virtually ensure a woman will abort.)

Enter “Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice,” by Rebecca Todd Peters. The Rev. Peters is one of those all-too-familiar “progressive” ministers [in this case Presbyterian] who has persuaded herself that “justice” requires abortion, which requires overturning the patriarchy which includes recalibrating a religious “tradition that remains dominated by male god-language and imagery.”

In other words Peters is a cliché’s cliché.

I read the Publishers Weekly blurb and learned, “The starting point of our ethical conversation should be women’s lives,” writes Peters, yet “the problem that we face in this country is our failure to trust women to act as rational, capable, responsible moral agents.”

Publishers Weekly tells us that for the Rev. Peters, there are “big problems”

with the way Christians and Catholics frame moral questions around abortion and women. She writes that they employ a “justification paradigm” in which the default expectation is for women to bear children if they get pregnant, and they must “justify their moral decision” to do otherwise. Peters’s book is dense with the history of women’s rights, as well as analysis of patriarchal oppression and the ways the church, legislators, and businesses have tried to control and govern women’s bodies.”

Indeed, this “theologically astute and social justice–minded book,” we’re told in the blurb’s conclusion, “could easily become part of the required reading for an array of university courses.” Wow!

A couple of thoughts.

#1. If you go to, you’ll find an excerpt from the book. In Peters’s reading of the history of opposition to abortion, we’re told that grumpy, judgmental, heterosexual females replaced grumpy, judgmental, heterosexual males. These women, in turn, have been replaced by younger women who are no less eager to deny other women access to abortion but have “changed their rhetorical and political approach considerably by attempting to position themselves as sympathetic sisters, concerned about women facing problem pregnancies and publicly pro-claiming their desire to help women.”

Really? Just guessing, it appears, age-wise, Peters is likely between the two sets of female “anti-abortion” leaders she ridicules. So perhaps she is so ideologically driven that she cannot understand that being a “feminist” and being pro-life are not incompatible but rather two sides of the same coin.

Indeed that’s how pro-life feminists (correctly) see themselves. But to Peters, concern for women and unborn children is impossible, therefore to talk and act that way is hypocrisy.

#2. Yes, I plead guilty to believing that the “default expectation” is to carry a baby to term. Why? For a hundred reasons, beginning with the responsibility that comes with our having brought that child into existence and a belief that the more powerful have a moral and ethical obligation to the less powerful not to take their life because they are “inconvenient.”

The Rev. Peters can babble on about patriarchies and other drivel forever and a day but none of that converts tearing an unborn child limb from limb into “reproductive justice.”

Categories: Abortion
Tags: abortion