"What’s on Your Mind regarding Abortion Rights?"
Responding to an open invitation from a producer at the New York Times
The New York Times wrote on October 26, 2022,
In the debate over abortion, it often seems there’s not much room for nuance: You’re either for it or against it.
But in the Opinion video above, the Rev. Clinton L. Stancil, the pastor of Wayman A.M.E. Church in St. Louis, articulates a position that is heard all too rarely, particularly among faith leaders.
He is opposed to abortion on moral grounds and counsels his parishioners against getting the procedure. But he is also vehemently supportive of a woman’s right to choose. In an interview with Opinion Video, he called the Supreme Court decision that eliminated the constitutional right to abortion “a tragedy.”
Mr. Stancil, 60, who was a sales executive for IBM before entering the ministry, anchors his pro-choice position in Scripture. But he is also deeply concerned that the new restrictions on abortion access will disproportionately harm Black communities, spurring poverty and crime. (Black women have a far higher abortion rate than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Mr. Stancil, who is active on civil rights issues in St. Louis and has discussed the abortion debate in his sermons this year, offered to deliver his guest essay in the form of a sermon. We recorded it as a postscript to a Sunday service this month.
As it has for many houses of worship in the United States, attendance at Wayman A.M.E. still hasn’t rebounded to prepandemic levels. So Mr. Stancil, a kinetic preacher whose partly improvised sermons often run half an hour or more, finds himself these days speaking to a congregation that is mostly tuning in via the church’s live streams. We thought his message deserved a wider audience.
Here’s the video:
One New York Times producer shared why he produced this video:
Hello, I’m Kirk Semple, and I produced this Opinion Video. When I first heard the Rev. Clinton L. Stancil preach this year, I knew I wanted to work with him on a video. Over the course of numerous conversations, he explained to me how his views on abortion had evolved. He anchors his lifelong, anti-abortion stance in Scripture, but has come to his pro-choice views more recently, through ministering to disadvantaged Black communities around the country. For him, discussions about abortion and abortion rights in the Black population shouldn’t be separated from discussions about police prejudice, high unemployment rates, the lack of access to health care, the poor state of urban schooling and what he called “the school-to-prison pipeline.” I’d love to know what you think of the video, and what’s on your mind regarding abortion rights.
“I’d love to know what you think of the video, and what’s on your mind regarding abortion rights.”
I’m thankful to Mr. Semple for inviting a response to share my thoughts on abortion rights. Here was my reply to him on youtube.
Dear Kirk Semple,
Thank you for sharing with us this perspective as we all seek to thoughtfully pursue justice and love for women and the unborn. Thanks for the excellent video work. Below let me interact with the content of the video to share with you what's on my mind regarding abortion rights as I prepare to preach against abortion tomorrow morning at Bethany Baptist Church in Bellflower, Southeast Los Angeles, CA.
0:18 when he says that he is really pro-life and he believes "in the sanctity of life but I also believe in a woman's right to choose" what does he mean? He seems to mean the pregnant woman has a right to choose to abort the life/person in her womb that is "sacred." Can he really be pro-life of the unborn baby and for the woman's right to choose to abort the unborn baby? He is personally for life but he believes the woman has the right to choose to abort the baby. Therefore, on the issue of public policy, which is the debate at hand, this preacher is pro-ability-to-choose-to-abort and not pro-life-denying-the-pregnant-mother-the-choice-to-abort-her-unborn-child.
0:26 The Bible is clear in Deuteronomy 30:19 that we have a choice to choose God and life or choose against God and death. But the Bible doesn't say we have a right to choose to abort an unborn baby. Does the Bible say we have the right to choose rape? Or stealing? Or killing? We have the opportunity to choose but that doesn't make the choice morally right.
0:58 on the disadvantaged . . . It is wrong to not care about the child's nutrition, school, and home to go to after they're born. We MUST care for the child after they are born. Amen to the preacher here! But that amen is not a reason to be for not caring for the child before they are born. So yes to caring for a child after they are born. AMEN! But yes to caring for a child's life before they are born also.
1:36 a young woman who was raped and pregnant by incest. A horrific crime by the perpetrator victimizing this young woman. I'm grateful this young woman got a master's degree and doctorate and eventually had a child who succeeded as well. Praise God! But that does not make it right or just to end the life of the child she had when she was younger. It was sinfully wicked, evil, and wrong to incestuously rape that young woman. The perpetrators should be prosecuted and punished. But not the unborn baby. This young woman could have (not that it is easy but it is a possibility) given the child up for adoption and succeeded as she did. She has that choice. But the choice for the unborn child's life to end because of the evil perpetrator is unjust. It is not a matter of whether it is the preacher/counselor's choice or the woman's choice. It is wrong and unjust to take innocent life, even innocent preborn life.
2:43 "Abortion cannot be debated without considering the quality of life in our urban schools, it cannot be debated without considering the high unemployment rate in our community or the disparities in our healthcare. We cannot talk about abortion without talking about the high rates of infant mortality in our community. We got to talk about it in its totality." Yes and amen! Let us be pro-whole-life for all ethnicities in our racialized world! Let's talk about this in its totality. Let's fight for the justice of life from conception to natural death and the conditions in our urban communities. Let us not use these unjust disparities in these communities as a justification for an injustice in the womb. Like MLK said, "An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Let's fight injustice on schooling, employment, healthcare, infant mortality, AND injustice in the killing and ending of innocent life in the womb. Both AND. Not either/or.
3:16 I have some European-American (racialized as "white") evangelical friends who rightly oppose abortion but perpetuate the organized forgetting and minimizing of systemic racism in America today. They ought to be ashamed and repent. May God give them eyes to see and hearts to discern and repent. I would not trust European Americans (racialized as "white") legislators make decisions about black bodies. I agree. But I would trust and support all legislators making the just decision pass laws that uphold justice for preborn babies and care for distressed pregnant mothers.
How do we fix this? I like his call to vote for those who are just and uphold justice. Yes and amen. Justice for the poor and oppressed and marginalized and those under the unrighteous weight of ethnocentric oppression. But also justice for the preborn children/people who are our neighbors in need of protection and advocacy.
Rev. Clinton L. Stancil is correct about love and care and justice for the urban communities neglected and distressed by past and present injustices. He is wrong to use that and Scripture to justify the injustice of legally allowing the taking of innocent preborn life.
Rev. Dr. P. J. Tibayan
Bethany Baptist Church, Bellflower, CA
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