No woman wants an abortion, yet a million American women have them, every year.

abortion, noun.
1. birth before the embryo can live outside the mother's body; it is still dependent upon her systems to support its own; miscarriage.
2. the inducing of premature delivery in order to destroy offspring.
3. the failure of anything to develop properly or to be completed; imperfect development.
4. to end or abandon (a mission, test, or experiment) before completion.

Two parts
The media and the religious right have made a big deal about abortion. The issue should be broken down into its two main components.
One part is to decide 'when does life begin?' Does life begin at conception - sperm into egg - or when the embryo is self-sufficient, when it can support its own life without nutrients from the mother? Many preachers have found evidence in the Bible that states that life begins at the moment of conception. Of course, they won't apply logic or reason - they take that evidence at face value and assume it to be true. Logically an embryo of a few split cells wouldn't stand up to scrutiny to determine its sufficiency as a 'life'. If life doesn't begin at conception, then abortion is not murder.
• This essay will use the 1987 brief to the Supreme Court, Webster v Reproductive Health Services, in which 12 Nobel Laureates and 155 other distinguished scientists declared that 'personhood' was not possible until brain development permitted consciousness - during 28-32 weeks of gestation (similar to the Jewish position, Genesis 1:27 & 2:7). Over 99% of abortions are performed well before the 28th week; the small number afterward are only for very serious medical reasons.
The other part is to decide 'what is the government's role?' Most people are opposed to abortion. Hardly anyone thinks its a good idea to remove embryos/potential people from a mother. Pro-Choice does not mean Pro-Abortion. People who support choice for women are usually anti-abortion but, more importantly, they are anti-government intervention. The real issue is to determine what role the government should play in making these very personal decisions for women. The preachers and the sheeple (sheep people) are attacking, figuratively and literally, Pro Choicers as anti-Christian, anti-decency, and pro-abortion.

Aborting a fetus is probably harmful for many women - to their sense of self, their guilt, and their feelings of evil in killing a potential child. We can most certainly do a better job of educating women (and men) about the consequences of getting an abortion. But making marijuana illegal does not solve its problem, in fact, it probably makes it worse. Making underage drinking illegal doesn't stop underage drinking. Making getting an abortion illegal most likely will not solve the problem and may even make it worse - some women will continue to see abortion as an option for an unwanted pregnancy. The abortion issue does need to be addressed - but by education, not legislation.

The Bible tells us when a fetus becomes a living being
Dr. Joe Schwartz, from TheChristianLeft.org, 2012

The fact that a living sperm penetrates a living ovum resulting in the formation of a living fetus does not mean that the fetus is a living human being. According to the Bible, a fetus is not a living person with a soul until after drawing its first breath:
• Genesis 2:7 - God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and it was then that the man became a living being". Although the man was fully formed by God in all respects, he was not a living being until after taking his first breath.
• Job 33:4 - "The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life."
There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that a fetus is considered to be anything other than living tissue and, according to scripture, it does not become a living being until after it has taken a breath. This means that a stillborn would not be considered a human being either. Of course, every living sperm has the potential of becoming a human being although not one in a million will make it; the rest are aborted.

In 1973, W A Criswell, President of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1968 to 1970, said: "I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person, and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed."

Important: If abortion was such a grievous sin, Jesus would have mentioned it. He said nothing.

Those who say, "If you're a Christian, you have to be against abortion, and therefore you must vote republican," are simply reciting talking points from false teachers. If you don't like abortion, don't have one. But don't judge others who may be in terrible circumstances that you can't possibly understand. Especially when your judgements are based on a politically motivated and questionable interpretation of the Bible.

From the Oklahoma City newspaper: It has been conservatively estimated that there are 1 million abortions each year. Since most women do not get abortions casually, its reasonable to assume that many of these fetuses would have become unwanted children. In 2001, 542,000 children were in foster care; of these, only 4 percent were in pre-adoptive care. What would happen to social services if almost a million more children were added to the foster rolls each year? When those who oppose abortion volunteer to adopt all these children, then we can consider their ethical concerns a little more seriously. Outlawing abortion won't end abortions, it will simply force some women to seek poor care or travel long distances to a doctor who does care.

Rethinking my religion
By Frank Bruni
I grew up in the South, in a setting so homogeneous and a family so untroubled that I had no cause to question my parents' religious convictions, which became mine. I read the Bible front to back and took notes. "There's a lot of wisdom there, but it's a real mistake not to think about it critically."

I also read books on church history and "was appalled at the behavior of the church while it presumed to teach all of us moral behavior." How often it had pushed back at important science and vilified important thinkers. During teaching duties in Africa, the miseries I witnessed made me question any God who permitted them. I saw cruelties born of the kind of bigotry that religion and false righteousness sometimes abet.

"In all centuries, through all history, women have ended pregnancies somehow. They feel so strongly about this that they will attempt abortion even when it's illegal, unsafe and often lethal."

In decades past, many American women died from botched abortions. But with abortion's legalization, "those deaths virtually vanished. If doctors and nurses do not step up and provide these services or if so many obstacles and restrictions are put into place that women cannot access the services, then the stream of women seeking abortions tends to flow toward the illegal and dangerous methods."

"Religion too often demands belief in physical absurdities and anachronistic traditions despite all scientific evidence and moral progress." In too many religious people I see inconsistencies. They speak of life's preciousness when railing against abortion but fail to acknowledge how they let other values override that concern when they support war, the death penalty, or governments that do nothing for people in perilous need.

Links to other religious essays
The decline of Christianity
The value of prayer
The Bible: some questions to ask believers
Stickers to place in hotel Bibles
Religious costumes
Quotes: Words of Wisdom about religion
Islam for the novice
Atheism explained
Jim's spiritual journey