Arkadian Anvil: Hammering out a Pagan Future

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Abortion Rights are a Theological Battle

As you probably know there has been a powerful and effective move on the part of the Republican party to restrict access to abortion and other reproductive health services at the state level since the 2010 elections. What drives this is a theological notion that amounts to the establishment a religion in violation of the 1st Amendment of the US constitution. Those who object to the imposition of restrictions on access to abortion should recognize that it is a theological battle. Come see why. . .


How any times do you live? How many chances do you get? Since you’re reading this you probably know that there are many answers to that question. All the answers are religious because science is silent on this subject. It has no category of ‘soul’. For science incarnation simply means a live body.

The question of incarnation is critical to any understanding of the effect of terminating a pregnancy. If your theology admits of reincarnation, when any life ends the ‘soul’ (here used to name that which incarnates and endures beyond the body, and possibly exists before the body), moves on to another cycle of life inhabiting a different body. If your theology denies reincarnation, that can be interpreted as meaning the soul gets one chance at a body which, if ended, end whatever benefits there are in living.

We know from the fact that the laws enacted are not for the sake of the mother as they require the child conceived of rape or incest, or who even is a threat to the life of the mother, to be carried to term. The sole purpose of these laws is to ensure that every possible conception produces a living birth without regard to the consequences. From this we know to focus on the zygote which results of the union of egg and sperm.

What right has this zygote have to live? The answer to this question is very much dependent on the theology (or lack thereof) of the one asking. For instance, at what point is the zygote an ensouled ‘human’? If this is the only chance for that soul to take flesh the importance of this individual zygote or ‘incarnational vehicle’ is very different from the case in which is it but one of innumerable opportunities.

For our purposes it does not matter what you or I believe about this, or the rather enormous complexities that can be raised about incarnation. What matters here is that all such discussions are theological. To forbid abortion requires taking a theological stance toward a fundamental biological function that we know results in more miscarriages than births even without human intervention. We know it is a theological matter since the medical profession, having developed safe and effective procedures, is having these restrictions imposed upon it over its objections: it is not a scientifically or medically driven law. We know it is a theological matter since there is no civil threat that requires all births: our population is neither too small nor lacking in diversity for every child to be necessary to the survival of the species. There is no scientific reason, there is no civic reason for imposing this restriction upon access to abortion. There is only a theological, religious reason.

The problem is that to impose a theological position by law upon anyone in this nation is to violate the First Amendment of our Constitution which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”. These laws establish a theology by legislating access to abortion on the basis of a religious position.

Objections that claim that the mere presence of access to abortion is as violation of the free exercise of someone’s religion are invalid as the decision to abort a pregnancy is a choice; you can choose not to have one. Or perhaps you believe that the existence of abortions will bring about the wrath of your God upon all people living near such actions. Setting aside the dubious ethics and flawed logic of Divine collective punishment, again, this is also a theological notion. Here the First Amendment protects you, too. You are welcome to your ‘belief’, but it simply has no standing before the law: you don’t get to impose it by law on anyone else.

Given these facts and irreducible logic, as a Pagan and a Thelemite, as a priest, a minister, a citizen, and a man, I heartily endorse the following position:

If you think abortion is wrong, don’t have one.

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Sam Webster is a Pagan Mage, one of the very few who is also a Master of Divinity, and is also currently a Doctoral candidate in History at the University of Bristol, UK, under Prof. Ronald Hutton. He is an initiate of Wiccan, Druidic, Buddhist, Hindu and Masonic traditions and an Adept of the Golden Dawn founding the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn  in 2001. His work has been published in a number of journals such as Green Egg and Gnosis, and 2010 saw his first book, Tantric Thelema, establishing the publishing house Concrescent Press. Sam lives in the San Francisco East Bay and serves the Pagan community principally as a priest of Hermes.

Comments

  • Herb
    Herb Saturday, 07 September 2013

    I don't think you'll find much disagreement with your thesis on this forum. However, it begs the question: Where do you set the age limits of induced death before it is no longer strictly a theological issue? The article specifically limits itself to abortion, where the age limit is birth. Murder after birth is not strictly a theological issue because I and society want to protect my life and my children's lives. That does leave the very fuzzy area of infanticide by agreeing parents.

  • Rick
    Rick Saturday, 12 October 2013

    I would argue that almost all legal differences of opinion such as this have theological roots. For those of us that have a theology, our ethics, and therefore the morality of the group we are part of, are derived from our theology. So your argument sets up a strong man and then demolishes it. Congratulations, but it leaves me unimpressed.
    The arguments that should be presented here are when does the human spirit enter this mundane body? If it is before first breath, what obligation do we have to protect the innocent? Even if it is after first breath, is the fetus still an animal and in your theology, do animals have a right to life? Is your position on abortion inconsistent with your position on how other animals are treated, or do you consider the human fetus a thing until first breath?

  • Rick
    Rick Saturday, 12 October 2013

    I would argue that almost all legal differences of opinion such as this have theological roots. For those of us that have a theology, our ethics, and therefore the morality of the group we are part of, are derived from our theology. So your argument sets up a strong man and then demolishes it. Congratulations, but it leaves me unimpressed.
    The arguments that should be presented here are when does the human spirit enter this mundane body? If it is before first breath, what obligation do we have to protect the innocent? Even if it is after first breath, is the fetus still an animal and in your theology, do animals have a right to life? Is your position on abortion inconsistent with your position on how other animals are treated, or do you consider the human fetus a thing until first breath?

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