Women and society as a whole had a great day recently, when the US Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that regulated abortion clinics so stringently, the rules would have run them out of business. (Blog 6/30/15) Texas insisted the regulation was intended to protect women’s health, but no one was fooled by this gauze behind which stands decades, if not centuries, of religious precepts. For too long, women around the world have been held prisoners to ideologies that treat them as members of an inferior class. Gloria Steinem got it right in her latest book. “Religion [is] just a form of politics you [can’t] criticize.” (My Life on the Road, by Gloria Steinem, Random House, pg. 52.)
As to the Muslim faith, I’m unqualified to speak about its precepts; though I’m pretty sure the Prophet Muhammad (570 CE-632 CE) had little to say against women driving cars. Saudi Arabia ignores the fact.
Certainly, what prophets decree should have no impact in a country under secular rule. Nonetheless, one doesn’t have to look far to see Christian tenets in our common law. For too many years, denying a woman the right to control her body had been among the worst of them.
Not everyone agrees that ours isn’t a Christian nation, however. That difference of opinion fuels much of America’s political debate. So, for the sake of argument, let’s allow true believers to have their way. What, does the Bible say about a woman’s right to choose? We begin with the first question: “When does life begin?” The religious right says it begins before insemination, hence their opposition to birth control. But Genesis (2.7) says life begins with the first breath. Exodus (21:22-25) teaches that if a pregnant woman is harmed and the fetus lost, the husband shall be paid for the damage done to the woman, alone. The aborted child is deemed of no value.
Disregard for the fetus runs throughout the Bible. God, kings and warriors are free to rip an unborn child from the womb and have the deed applauded as an act of justice. Where is there a pause for guilt? Where is the moral imperative against it? Nowhere. Steinem is right. Abortion has been given Biblical proportion in an effort to keep females in their place.
Until women everywhere and of every religious persuasion find the courage to question precepts meant to bind them, they will remain languishing in their chains.