A Reflection on Abortion by Mike Solberg
With the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization changing the legal framework of abortion in this country, many have been thinking again about abortion. Intentionally being a gathering of disciples of Jesus with a variety of views of faith and life, Union Church, of course, does not have one set, official view on abortion or the many complex issues that surround it. However, I (Mike) also believe that contributing to consideration of important issues is part of my pastoral responsibility. So I have prepared a reflection on abortion for any interested. It should probably be considered a “long form” reflection (7 pages/4000 words), so consider reading it when time allows.
The reflection begins here, as a blog post, or the full text is available here. I welcome conversation with any who would like to respond to this, particularly given their personal experience. Grace and peace to all.
A few years ago, in a previous church I served, I led a funeral for a man named Dick Ragsdale. Dick grew up in that church and continued as a member throughout his life. His mother was a matriarch of the congregation, and Dick sang in the choir with a deep, bass voice. Dick was a well-known doctor, compassionately treating thousands and thousands of people in town through the years. He was an OB-GYN doc, and his life’s work was about caring for his patients, or better, families, during some of the most important and vulnerable times of their lives. Notably, for many years, Dick was the only doctor in Rockford to perform abortions. People regularly protested at his clinic and at his home – sometimes with threats and intimidation. When he died, we were tipped off ahead of time that people would come to protest even at his funeral, so we had extra plans and precautions in place. The protesters ended up not showing.
Leading Dick’s funeral was something of a clarifying experience for me. Although I believe funerals are for the sake of the living, and thus that a pastor’s involvement is not a “divine blessing” on the life of the one who has died, still, the nature of Dick’s life and work was clearly part of the pastoral dynamic of the situation. Although I have been involved in several other pastoral situations through the years when abortion was one of the issues involved, Dick’s funeral was probably the first time I really worked through my own beliefs about abortion: Biblically, theologically, morally, pastorally, and yes, legally/legislatively. What follows is not an argument in defense of a position, but some of my reflection on the issue of abortion, from that time and since. This is a personal statement, and although it is undeniable that I write as the Sr. Minister of Union Church, I don’t write on behalf of Union Church. I have tried to keep this reflection at a somewhat readable length, although even laying out the basics of my thinking will take a bit: I hope any reader finds this worth their time.
At Dick’s funeral I said that “compassion, integrity and courage filled his life.” Integrity is a word I don’t use lightly…