Reverend describes her abortions

Rev. Dr. Rebecca Todd Peters is Professor of Religious Studies. She writes about her abortions in her pro-abortion book, Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice:

“We both wanted to have children, but we were also young, relatively poor students with a lot of educational debt. We felt it was important to build up our relationship and spend some time with each other before we had kids… We were young and healthy, and although we were struggling economically, we had enough to get by … I was in seminary, and having a baby right then would seriously interrupt my studies and my future career. I believed that my work on issues of social justice was important; it was my calling in my life. In my prayer and my discernment, I knew that this was not the right time for me to become a mother.…

The truth was, I didn’t want it – the pregnancy or a child. I had regularly used contraception to prevent it, I didn’t bond with it, and I never entered into relationship with it …  Those dividing cells were never a child for me.

Having had three subsequent planned and wanted pregnancies, I know the difference between embracing and rejecting a pregnancy. A miscarriage at the same point in a wanted pregnancy would’ve been a much more tragic loss for me. It was a pregnancy, but it was never a “baby.”…

I had testified before Presbyterian committees and general assemblies that if my birth control failed, I would likely have an abortion if I wasn’t ready to be a mother. … the decision to have an abortion was neither traumatic nor tragic. I did not experience it as a theological crisis or as an act that separated me from God. …

I have never regretted my decision or felt any lingering guilt or sadness after my immediate experience of the pregnancy and abortion. My first abortion was not a tragic decision.”

Peters seems to feel that a woman is carrying a baby if she wants the child and “dividing cells” if she does not. But the way a woman feels toward her baby does not change the nature of what her baby is. The child is not a baby only if the mother wants her.

Peters had a child, and then a second abortion. Peters second abortion was done because the child had down syndrome and a heart defect that could have been corrected by surgery:

“… By my 18th week, a diagnosis of multiple severe heart defects that would require open-heart surgery in the first year of life and Down syndrome. While we never thought we would have another abortion, we were suddenly faced with another unexpected life situation that required serious moral reflection…

Medical technology has advanced in truly remarkable ways. In our situation, it offered both the advanced knowledge of our prenate’s diagnosis and the possibility of open-heart surgery. It was now our responsibility to figure out what to do with this information.

We had to discern whether we were prepared or willing to parent this medically and socially fragile potential child that I carried. The fact that this was a deeply wanted pregnancy meant that the situation was nothing like my first abortion. Although my marriage was now solid, I was still concerned for the health of my marriage and I had to think about the obligations that we had to our three-year-old, my calling and vocation as a Christian ethicist and college professor, and my awareness of my own gifts and limitations as a parent.…

My husband and I knew that ending the pregnancy was the right decision for us. But in contrast to our first experience of abortion, this experience was wrenching. We grieved deeply over our loss, but the loss was the loss of our imagined child, the social being we had created in our minds as all would be parents do.…For very personal reasons, we decided to end the pregnancy.

Rebecca Todd Peters Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice (Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 2018) 24 – 25, 26, 27-28

Peters says this abortion was different than the last one, but it still came down to the fact that parenting the child would have required sacrifices and interfered with her career.

Peters says that her first abortion was done early, but the second baby was 18 weeks along. This is what an 18 week old baby looks like in the womb:


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Author: Sarah

Sarah is a member of the board of The Pro-life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians.

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