Abortion rights and human rights
Published 9:23 pm Monday, February 18, 2019
By Ross Reitz
When the Holy Spirit wrote Galatians, one of His major teachings is that, through Christ, all people are equal. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus … There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:25, 27).
In the Declaration of Independence, the founders of our country expressed this same belief of equality of all people: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
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This month, abortion again has become center stage. We who are pro-life believe that every human being, even someone not yet born, is given the rights of life and liberty by God. However, the pro-life movement hasn’t made much headway because so many people who call themselves “pro-life” do not believe the teaching of the Bible and the Declaration of Independence that we are all equal and that every person has a right to life and liberty.
In the past two years, immigration services have targeted pregnant women. The goal has been to remove pregnant women from the country, so their children cannot be born in the United States and have the rights of citizenship. With this practice, our government is underlining the idea that the yet-to-be-born do not have rights in our country — only citizens have rights.
This is the crux of the pro-life situation: Does every person in our country, even visitors, have certain rights, just by being created in God’s image? Historically, the Supreme Court has decreed that even non-citizens have the rights of due process of law. This agrees with the legal system God set up for Israel that non-citizens were to be treated exactly like native born Israelites, as repeated throughout Leviticus and Numbers.
However, the Supreme Court is now veering off Biblical teaching and historical precedent. In 2006, the Supreme Court heard a court case as to whether a non-citizen had the same rights to trial as a citizen and had the human rights listed in the Geneva Convention. The Supreme Court overall agreed with our forefathers that every human being has certain rights, but the three conservative justices disagreed. The number of conservative justices has grown, and they are now overturning this idea that non-citizens have the right to due process, even when the immigrants are here legally.
Here is the problem. The same people who believe a yet-to-be-born child has certain inherent rights from God have also pushed to destroy the laws that could be used to protect these children.
The belief that only citizens have rights is made worse when we consider that some conservative evangelicals have pushed the idea that even being born in the United States does not make you a citizen. Some have gone so far as to say that the president has the right to take away citizenship, even without a vote from Congress. To this group of conservative evangelicals, not only do yet-to-be-born babies have no rights, neither do any of the rest of us, since we could lose our citizenship at any time.
Jesus condemned Pharisees for making up rules for people, but denying them help in keeping those rules (Matthew 23:1-4). Likewise, conservatives have worked for 40 years to make abortion illegal, but the only significant reductions in the number of U.S. abortions have come through the Clinton and Obama administrations. Abortions only decreased when women had access to health care and services that allowed them to care for their children. Yet, the same people who voted to make abortion illegal, also voted to try to take away the law that expanded health care access to the women having children.
We who are pro-life will have to decide if we are interested in protecting the life and liberty of every person, the way the Bible and the Declaration of Independence describe, or if we are just Pharisees interested in creating laws so that we can treat pregnant women, non-citizens and even some current citizens as less than equal in the sight of God.
Ross Reitz has been a Suffolk resident since 2009. Prior to that, he taught the Bible in Africa for two years and spent six years as a teacher at a Christian school in Philadelphia, Pa.