In recent days, I’ve watched, winced, and cringed as Evangelical leaders have come up with excuse after excuse to minimize or downplay the wickedness of abortion. I’ve watched as Southern Baptist pastors rationalize rape or incest as valid excuses to exempt one from the legal repercussions of abortions. I’ve watched as other well-known Southern Baptist seminary professors argue that overturning Roe v. Wade wasn’t worth having Donald Trump in office for four years. And still, yet, I’ve watched Evangelicals one after another argue that even though abortion is wrong, mothers are not morally culpable for having one and should not, under any circumstances, be held accountable for it—and that social justice and redistribution of wealth should be a prerequisite to criminalizing abortion at all.
I even watched Russell Moore argue that the reason we have abortions at all is that our society isn’t socialist enough.
But I want to argue that after wading through all of this nonsense, it is actually the mother who is the most responsible party in having an abortion. After all, the mantra, “my body my choice” should, if consistently applied, make that case.
Recently, the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics leadership signed an open letter to state lawmakers calling on them to reject any effort to hold mothers morally or criminally accountable for seeking or having an abortion. Brent Leatherwood, who is filling the shoes of the notorious Russell Moore at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission signed the letter that stated:
As national and state pro-life organizations, representing tens of millions of pro-life men, women, and children across the country, let us be clear: We state unequivocally that any measure seeking to criminalize or punish women is not pro-life and we stand firmly opposed to such efforts.
Multitudes of Southern Baptist leaders have joined Leatherwood’s call to ensure that the states keep abortion legal so long as only the mother is the acting perpetrator. Essentially, under the Southern Baptist’s position, mothers could perform self-administered abortions—physically or chemically—without fear of legal repercussion. On the other hand, under this absurd notion, anyone else involved in the act could possibly be held accountable—fathers, abortionists, friends or family, etc. But not the mothers.
Al Mohler, in a 2016 The Briefing podcast, made a similar argument:
But here’s where the pro-life movement returns back to say, who is the guilty party in an abortion? It is the person who brings about the death of the child. The woman seeking the abortion is not without moral responsibility, but she is not herself bringing about the death of the unborn human baby. That’s the crucial issue here, and that’s why the pro-life movement has consistently sought to criminalize abortion at the level of the person performing the abortion. That is, unlike what Nicholas Kristof argues here, a morally consistent argument and it has been consistent over time.
Current Southern Baptist Convention presidential candidate, Bart Barber, gave glowing accolades to Denny Burk, a Southern Baptist pastor and professor at Mohler’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who argued that:
Abolitionists today wish to prosecute post-abortive women. Do they realize that this approach may vey well make it impossible to successfully prosecute the actual abortionists? Do they really want to put the woman on the side of the abortionist and thereby discourage her from helping the prosecution of the abortionist? I hope not. In my view, a consistently pro-life position will always stay laser-focused on supporting public policy that punishes the abortionist. In the long run, this is the best way to abolish abortion, and I hope and pray the abolitionists will eventually be able to see that.
Now, when you think about this, it’s certainly absurd on its face. This argument is literally like arguing that the person hiring a hitman to kill his boss isn’t responsible for murdering his boss. But this is actually how these people think. They do not believe that mothers are guilty in an abortion or that at least they should not be held legally accountable for murder. Instead, they believe, as the letter Leatherwood signed states, that “women are victims of abortion and require our compassion and support as well as ready access to counseling and social services in the days, weeks, months, and years following an abortion.”
However, mothers are in actuality the most responsible for this vile attack on the Image of God and hatred toward mankind. It is the mother who has veto power over her own body—remember, “my body, my choice.” It is the mother who is ultimately responsible for allowing the abortion to take within her body on the separate body in her womb. She is the ultimate protector of the unborn; it is a great responsibility. And with that responsibility comes accountability.
This isn’t to downplay the responsibility of other parties involved. We already have laws on the books that define various levels of culpability in the act of murder, ranging from involuntary manslaughter to murder in the 1st degree. And, of course, all involved in the act should be held accountable to whatever degree they participated. But one cannot escape the fact that, with the exception of a few rare circumstances, it is the mother who makes the final decision and it is the mother who should be held the most accountable. She is the most guilty.
The only innocent victim in an abortion is the child who was murdered in the act.
So let’s stop with excuses. Under current law, no mother would be expected to be deemed innocent for choosing to murder her children. So why would we make excuses for those who kill their unborn children? This demonstrates that these Evangelicals really don’t value human life equally and only care about advancing their political and social justice causes. These people should be purged from the ranks of the Church and called to repent, not propped up as authorities on biblical ethics.