Abortion: Philosophical And Theological Considerations -- By: Allan R. Bevere

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 28:0 (NA 1996)
Article: Abortion: Philosophical And Theological Considerations
Author: Allan R. Bevere

Philosophical And Theological Considerations

Allan R. Bevere


The motivation of this paper is the appearance of two rather recent books on the issue of abortion, both written by Christians who disagree on the subject. The first, edited by Anne Eggebroten, 1 takes a pro-abortion2 position. The second text, edited by Paul Stallsworth,3 takes an anti-abortion position4 . Both have something important to say. In the final analysis I believe that the Stallsworth text says it better. Indeed, Stallsworth provides something that the abortion argument has lacked on both sides—theological reflection.5 This paper represents philosophical and theological reflections on abortion, enlivened by these two Christian and yet very different sources.

One prior note is important. I am rather uncomfortable with the philosophy/theology distinction as finally it is disastrous to draw too fine a differentiation between the two disciplines, just as it is disastrous to draw one between an argument as theological or biblical. Any good theology will employ sound philosophical reasoning and any competent philosophy will be theological in nature.6 Therefore I will proceed with several affirmations which are one and the same time philosophical and theological, without drawing any sharp line. Instead I will let philosophical reasoning and theological affirmation stand together as partners in the dialogue. I do not deny that the two disciplines should be differentiated, but in the final analysis I don’t know how such a separation would look in the midst of an argument.

Decision is Not the Basis of Morality

It seems to me that one of the many flaws in the pro-abortion argument is that choice is the foundation of morality. Eggebroten affirms this when she states, “By the term procreative choice we mean the full range of conditions necessary to insure that a couple will have a child only when they decide to do so.”7 Now at this point she is willing to include the father in on the decision, but of course, he is only in on it when he agrees with the mother. She notes, “Ideally procreative choice means both the father and the mother want the child. Should the two disagree on this decision the woman’s choice must take precedence.”8

We will return to the matter of giving the woman the sole choic...

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