Submitted by Rev. Gerard Kuyk, retired minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Albuquerque resident

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The overturning of Roe vs. Wade has sparked a fresh debate over the issue of abortion. And the issue is far more complicated than, “Abortion is murder” or “Abortion is a woman’s right.” The real underlying question is, “What is human life?”

Medical science has made tremendous strides in understanding the development of a fetus from the moment of conception to the moment of birth, and the impact this has on a woman’s body.

But medical science can’t answer the basic question of what constitutes human life.
Catholics and many Evangelical Christians believe that human life begins at the moment of
conception, while other faiths believe human life begins when the heart starts beating, and still, others believe that human life begins at the moment of birth. In Genesis 2, important to
Christians, Jews and Muslims alike, we read how God created a human being “from the dust of the earth” and that when God breathed into his lungs he became a living being. Breathing was thus seen as a sign of human life.

I believe that the question of human life is a moral, ethical, and spiritual question that depends on a person’s moral, religious or ethical stance. And therefore the question of abortion is also a moral, religious and ethical question. There are a variety of answers, all related to the variety of religious beliefs. For the government to take any stance on abortion is to give support to one religion or another, something clearly prohibited in our Constitution. The separation of church and state is a key feature of our Constitution, something that the authors fiercely defended.

So where does that leave us? The best approach, it seems to me, is to remove government
regulations and leave the question of abortion to be decided by individual women facing problem pregnancies, with the support of their doctors and spiritual counselors. If a woman believes that abortion is murder she will probably decide against having an abortion. If she believes that the fetus becomes a human being at another stage of development she should be free to have an abortion or keep the child without guilt. If she decides to have an abortion, then it should be performed safely and legally. And if she decides to give birth to the child, that mother will know she had the child because she wanted that child, not because the government forced her decision. And the child will grow up in the security of knowing that she or he is loved and wanted.

Rev. Gerard Kuyk, is a retired minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and serves as the Interim Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Belen. He is a graduate of Alma College (Alma, MI), Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (Pittsburgh, PA), and Iliff School of Theology (Denver, CO). He has served churches in New York, Colorado, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana and New Mexico. He lives in Albuquerque.