Religious studies professor Rebecca Todd Peters wrote on Elon University’s website this week that restricting abortions “flies in the face of Jesus’ teaching that he came to bring abundant life.” Peters’ comment came in a column titled, “Trusting women to make abortion decisions is a Christian norm.”
What is her argument?
Peters’ university bio describes her as a “feminist and Christian social ethicist.”
In her column, she said she believes it is false to say all Christians oppose abortion.
“There is a dominant belief that Christianity and Christians are against abortion,” she wrote. “In point of fact, many Christian communities recognize several circumstances in which abortion is accepted. The fact that abortion is acceptable in some cases means that the real social question is not whether women can have abortions, but which women and for what reasons?
“Prenatal health, Rape, Incest, and health of the Mother – PRIM. Evidence indicates widespread consensus and acceptance among many Christian denominations that abortion for PRIM reasons is justifiable.”
She also stated:
“Limiting our cultural approval of women’s reproductive decisions about the size, shape, and timing of their families to a narrow list of PRIM reasons flies in the face of Jesus’ teaching that he came to bring abundant life,” she wrote. “A Christian vision of abundant life requires that we recognize and support the development of healthy and robust families. It requires that we respect women and the moral decisions that they make about their families. A Christian approach to supporting healthy families recognizes that only individual women and their partners are able to determine their ability to parent a child.”
Further, Peters said women should not have to explain why they are seeking an abortion.
“There is nothing Christian about requiring women to ‘justify’ their reasons for abortion,” Peters wrote. “And there is certainly nothing Christian about forcing women to continue pregnancies against their will.”
What else did she say?
Peters gave a statement to Campus Reform that expanded on the comments she made in her column:
“As a Christian ethicist, I believe very strongly that abortion is a moral decision. Just as having a baby is a moral decision,” she stated. “Because pregnancy represents the potential for human life — I believe that we ought to take the decision to have a child far more seriously than we do.”
“The ethic of reproductive justice that I develop in my book, ‘Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice,’ offers a much more robust and demanding ethic in support of pregnancy, mothers, and families than the current public discussion of abortion,” she added.
“By focusing on the acceptability of PRIM abortions, Christians have shaped the dominant public discourse about abortion into a debate about justification,” she asserts, saying that “this framework divides women who have abortions into two categories—the tragic and the damned.”
A disclaimer at the top of the column states it is Peters’ own opinion and not necessarily the university’s.