Abortion, Theology, and Politics
Someone critical of Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin wrote that the Anti-choice stand on the abortion issue is a theological position based on the belief that life begins at conception, a matter related to religious faith that should not be imposed in our pluralistic society.
Similarly, Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Biden remarked that he is prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at conception, but that he would not impose his religious views on others.
These two assertions require clarification.
To assert that the Anti-choice position is theologically-based is as nonsensical as to state that the Pro-choice position is not. Anyone can hold Anti-choice or Pro-choice views based on religious and non-religious reasons. It is well known that there are agnostics and atheists who support the Anti-choice position as well as very religious people who favor the Pro-choice one.
Our democratic and pluralistic political system allows and condones the intrusion of theologically-based political viewpoints into the political arena. This means that it is not unconstitutional or un-American to attempt to pass legislation that is initially founded on religious beliefs. People have fought sexual, racial, and religious discrimination resulting in amendments to the Constitution and laws protecting the rights of many based on their theological beliefs. Views on the abortion issue are no different.
Now, the other aspect of the proposition, that the belief that life begins at conception is a theological position or Sen. Biden’s view that accepting that life begins at conception is a matter of faith is, nowadays, highly and extremely questionable.
Up until early Twentieth Century, this view was, in fact, a matter for philosophers and theologians to discuss since science had not uncovered reliable evidence to provide a scientific answer to these questions. Today, however, due to scientific progress and the advancement of technology, the medical sciences, biology, and chemistry the answer to this question is anything but theological. It is known that, from a scientific standpoint, life starts at conception.
What has become politically, legally, morally, and philosophically debatable is the question of when such life should be terminated following conception. It is also up to philosophers and theologians to discuss if and when something called the soul enters the human body, since science has no means, yet, to provide adequate scientific explanations.
In the mean time, any citizen or politician is constitutionally free to support his or her views in the political arena and vote to enact legislation in accordance with their religious views.
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