Priest prefers to leave women alone in hard decisions

18/01/2023 / Abortion 

Pro-abortion priest misses the mark; Reverend Coren prefers to leave women alone in crisis pregnancy

Reverend Michael Coren, an Anglican priest, took the time to write an editorial against those who would pray outside abortion clinics. He accuses them of inconsistency, intimidation and harassment, not to mention attention seeking and a lack of understanding of the power of prayer. These are harsh words from a former pro-life advocate, and they deserve a response.

First of all, the reverend announces that he’d “still like abortion rates to drop, but also hold women’s choice to be fundamental and even sacred. Those rates would decline if, for example, we provided universal publicly funded daycare, enforced paternity payments, provided modern sex education in all schools, made contraceptives freely available, tried to eradicate poverty, and empowered women.”

Let’s not even talk about his throwaway line about women’s choice to have an abortion being sacred. As a priest, he should be ashamed to associate ideas of holiness and worthiness of worship with a woman’s choice to end the life of her child.

Beyond that, though, he also touts the pro-abortion rhetoric that pro-lifers are only pro-birth, and this discounts their position. In fact, we are anti killing babies. This is not an extreme position – consider the number of Canadians who would share this position for babies just a few months older and on the outside of the womb. Where pro-life advocates stand on sex education, universal daycare, or, for that matter, plastic straw bans or Canada’s international relations is an intentional distraction from the very real issue of abortion.

Rev. Coren suggests several alternatives to pro-life activism. But what lobbying or other efforts is Rev. Coren taking to introduce his suggested enforced paternity payments (a genuinely brilliant and necessary idea), free access to contraceptives (and why not period products while we’re at it) and the eradication of poverty (if he has a solution, governments for the last millennia would love to hear it)? We all live with inconsistencies, saying, for example, that we oppose slavery and child labour while buying discount clothes from mass retailers. But that doesn’t mean our every view or action should be dismissed as hypocritical or uninformed.

Coren goes on to point out that “women entering clinics are often vulnerable, frightened and alone, and have reported finding opponents praying to be painful and difficult. As one young woman said to me, “Let them pray by all means, let them protest if they like, but not here and now. This is my body, and my incredibly difficult experience.”

As a priest, is it his usual policy to leave vulnerable, frightened people alone when they are facing a difficult decision? Having never gone to a priest myself, perhaps my assumption is wrong that they are there to help in times of trouble, available to pray with and encourage people facing troubling circumstances. I guess he prefers to make “long distance calls” to God, a safe, non-threatening distance away from those who are hurting.

Finally, Coren says of those praying outside abortion clinics that “of course it’s meant to “intimidate” and “harass.” Why else would closeness matter, and why do anti-abortion media platforms celebrate each time a woman has her mind changed and walks away from her appointment?”

If he’s unsure why a woman changing her mind is celebrated, I don’t believe he was ever a part of the pro-life movement. For exactly the reason mentioned above – a woman’s mind is changed – there is rejoicing. We rejoice in a life saved, in a prayer answered, in a powerful and loving God who is in control no matter the outcome. Christians don’t view prayer as a utilitarian method of getting what they want. Rather, prayer is about faithfulness. It’s not about results. But when results are manifested, than praise and celebration is a right response.

Rev. Coren misunderstands the pro-life movement, certainly, and, worse than that, the God he claims to serve.

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