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With the battle over the next Supreme Court nomination brewing, abortion is once again at the forefront of national debate. Elements of that debate echoed through my mind as I listened to a sermon this week about God’s spiritual transformation model. The pastor’s model was shaped like a pyramid; the base was labeled “beliefs,” “values” formed the middle section, and “actions” rested on the top-the visible results of a person’s values and beliefs.

As my pastor spoke, my mind reviewed my pro-life beliefs and values. I believe that God created each and every one of us and that each life is sacred, from conception forward. I believe abortion and embryonic stem-cell research destroy a human life. I believe these things because I have faith in God and His creation. As the model predicts, my actions supporting the sanctity of human life, indeed, reflect my beliefs and values.

Unbelievably, too many abortion supporters treat me as though my beliefs and values are ignorant or evil. I am told I am intolerant of the beliefs and rights of others; and, I am guilty of trying to impose my beliefs and morals on others. Sadly, those are the same people who champion open-mindedness.

I find it ironic that I am accused of being intolerant and close-minded. But I am reminded that by striving to live in God’s will, I am often at odds with popular culture and beliefs. Christian faith is pilloried in the media and dismissed as something for the uneducated, unenlightened and ignorant. Choosing God’s will over man’s desires is seen as being mean and selfish. According to conventional wisdom, I am tolerant if I concede that there is a constitutional right to abortion at any time in the pregnancy, support embryonic stem-cell research, and deny the Bible has anything of value in it. In other words, I should deny my faith so that I will appear tolerant.

My beliefs are based on logic as well as faith. I find it interesting that embryos are now in great demand. Back in the 1970s we were told that abortion only extracts a blob of tissue from a woman’s uterus and therefore life did not begin at conception. With the advent of sonograms, women, and men, could see the fallacy of that statement. Nowadays, women and men pay huge sums of money to have eggs and sperm extracted, brought together in a lab to create a fertilized egg and then have the embryo returned to the womb. Conception is the beginning of the cycle of life. Those embryos are implanted in the womb to grow into a human baby, not a goat, a bird or a donkey. When an abortion takes place or an embryo is used in stem-cell research, it is a human that is killed. This human was created at fertilization with the embryo containing 46 chromosomes and his or her own genetic code.

If people go through arduous treatments like this, obviously valuing the embryos, how can an argument be made that using embryos for stem-cell research is not killing a human? You cannot have it both ways. And it is curious that people are adamant about pursuing embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR) even though only adult stem-cell research is producing viable treatments. Embryonic stem cells are not showing the promise that was touted and are in some cases causing more disease. Adult stem-cell researchers are producing results in fighting diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, to name but a few.

So, I am labeled a religious zealot and right-wing extremist for hoping that the Supreme Court will have another member who is a strict constructionist, Roe v. Wade will be overturned and the ban on federal funding for ESCR will continue. I am pegged as an evildoer wanting to return to the Dark Ages. I am labeled intolerant.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion will be an issue for the voters of each state to decide, not nine unelected people in black robes. ESCR is not illegal; if private individuals want to fund this research, they are free to do so. Funding it with federal tax money is not allowed. So I am mean because I don’t want my tax dollar spent on something that I oppose for moral reasons but which is available for the “tolerant” people to fund with their own money.

If life begins at conception, as I believe, then that human should have a right in determining its fate. Abortion ends that right. Embryonic stem-cell research ends that right. Should we not be tolerant of the rights of those unable to speak for themselves? The only arbiter of tolerance I am concerned about is God.

Brenda Zurita is Coordinator for CWA’s Crossing the Bridge Project.

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