A pro-choice Democratic representative ignited a social media debate this week when she quoted the Bible in opposing the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
The bill, H.R. 26, would require that life-saving care be given to babies who survive an abortion, according to the bill's supporters. Specifically, the bill states that an "infant born alive after an abortion" has the "same claim to the protection of the law that would arise for any newborn." Further, the bill requires that the infant born alive be "immediately transported and admitted to a hospital."
The bill passed the House, 220-210, yet during floor debate Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-Mich.) cited Jeremiah 1:5 in opposing the bill. The verse is often quoted by the pro-life community. It reads, in part, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I set you apart."
"As a pro-choice Christian who chose life, this issue is so personal to me," Scholten said. "My faith informs my actions, but it doesn't dictate the policy of an entire nation. And further, when I read the Scripture, I turn to passages and I'm guided by passages like Jeremiah 1, verse 5, which states, 'I knew you before I formed you and I placed you in your mother's womb.' It doesn't say the government's womb or the speaker's womb. It says the mother's womb.
"I believe life is precious," Scholten added, "but I reject the idea that if I embrace the sanctity of life, I also must be forced to invite the federal government in to regulate it. We must protect families from unnecessary government intrusion into the most sacred and personal decisions of our life and our children's lives."
Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-MI): "As a pro-choice Christian who chose life, this issue is personal to me... When I read scripture, I turn to Jeremiah 1:5 which states 'I knew you before I formed you and placed you in your mother's womb.' It doesn't say the government's womb." pic.twitter.com/IH6Z2KhT4f— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 11, 2023
Jeremiah 1:5 is one of the most-quoted verses by the pro-life community. Last year NFL TV analyst Tony Dungy cited it while defending the pro-life position on Twitter.
It and other verses "speak about God seeing us in the womb, working on us in the womb and knowing us in the womb," Dungy said.
Scholten was widely criticized on social media.
"That this Democrat member of Congress has read Jeremiah 1:5 and STILL can squeeze out a pro-abortion lesson from it is terrifying," wrote pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha.
I’ve said this before...the one thing that scares me is anyone who self-describes as “abortion-rights-supporting Christian”.— Obianuju Ekeocha (@obianuju) January 11, 2023
That this Democrat member of Congress has read Jeremiah 1:5 and STILL can squeeze out a pro-abortion lesson from it is terrifying.pic.twitter.com/96DGVcrEl9
International speaker, entrepreneur and investor Matt Wiliams wrote, "God is literally saying He knew us in the womb. That doesn't automatically tell you that is a living person in there? Wow, some people."
I have to laugh when “Christians” use Jeremiah 1:5 as part of their abortion argument. Ummmm, God is literally saying He knew us in the womb. That doesn’t automatically tell you that is a living person in there?— Matt Williams (@MattWilliamsOR) January 11, 2023
Wow, some people.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.