California Abortion Bill to Help Women “Stay on Track”

[This blog post is also available in the form of an audio podcast. The Reformed Hope Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Anchor, Google Podcasts, and many other platforms.]

Christian Headlines reports: “a California bill that would force public universities to provide women easy access to the abortion pill so they can ‘stay on track’ passed a legislative committee Wednesday.” The bill aims at providing “abortion by medication techniques” on every California State University or University of California campus. The perfidious logic behind this bill demonstrates the anti-Christian view of women that society is adopting.

The actual text of the bill includes the following:

(a) Abortion care is a constitutional right and an integral part of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.

(b) More than 400,000 students classified as female are educated at California’s public university campuses, and it is central to the mission of California’s public university student health centers to minimize the negative impact of health concerns on students’ studies and to facilitate retention and graduation.

(c) The state has an interest in ensuring that every pregnant person in California who wants to have an abortion can obtain access to that care as easily and as early in pregnancy as possible. When pregnant young people decide that abortion is the best option for them, having early, accessible care can help them stay on track to achieve their educational and other aspirational life plans.

The last line is particularly telling: abortion will help pregnant women “stay on track to achieve their educational and other aspirational life plans.” Aspirational is defined by one website as “having or characterized by aspirations to achieve social prestige and material success.” The example usage is fitting for this story: “young, aspirational, and independent women.”

Society is telling young women that their highest calling in life is to achieve educational, career, and societal success. For a woman who believes her highest calling is to achieve “social prestige and material success,” having a baby is just about the worst thing that can happen to her. The state wants to help ensure women “stay on track” with the feminist agenda, thus offering to kill all their babies for them.

The feminist ideal of a woman who can “do everything a man can do” has no warrant in Scripture. (Likewise, the idea that man can “do everything a woman can do,” is erroneous.) The Bible teaches that woman was made as a “helper” to man. This does not mean that a wife is less important or a doormat, but it does mean that her authority is derived from her husband. R.J. Rushdoony noted that “the biblical doctrine of woman thus reveals her as one crowned with authority in her ‘subjection’ or subordination, and clearly a helper of the closest possible rank to God’s appointed vicegerent over creation.” He gives the example of a colonel, whose power, authority, and prestige grows as the power, authority, and prestige of the general over him grows. Thus, woman’s subordination under man is also “her symbol of authority.” God created man and woman with distinct roles and differing abilities. One is not less important than the other. They were made to complement each other.

In some ways, the modern feminist or “women’s rights” movement is not a reaction against the biblical standard, but a reaction against the unbiblical ideals of the Enlightenment. Rushdoony notes that “few things have depressed women more than did the Enlightenment, which turned woman into an ornament and helpless creature.” He argues that the Age of Reason saw man as “reason incarnate” and woman as “emotion and will, and therefore inferior.” Rushdoony explains the result of the women’s rights movement’s attempt to correct this error:

Instead of restoring woman to their rightful place of authority beside man, women’s rights became feminism: it put women in competition with men. It led to the masculinization of women and the feminization of men, to the unhappiness of both…Thus the Age of Reason brought in an irrational supremacy for men and has led to a war on both sexes. As a result, the laws today work, not to establish godly order, but to favor one sex or another.

The Bible destroys both the error of feminism and the error of the irrational supremacy of man. The Proverbs 31 woman, for example, shows us that a woman can be industrious, successful, and exercise authority in society, all while acting as the helper of her husband. The Proverbs 31 wife is a “competent manager who is able to take over all business affairs if needed, so that her husband can assume public office as a civil magistrate” (Rushdoony). The Proverbs 31 wife corrects both errors and presents a woman who, acting for the honor of her husband (“she will do him good,” Prov. 31:12), is competent and successful, while maintaining her primary role as a wife and mother.

Obviously, such a woman is very different from the pretty doll of the Age of Reason, and the highly competitive masculinized woman of the 20th century who is out to prove that she is as good as any man, if not better.

Rushdoony argues that Scripture primarily presents woman “as a wife, i.e., a help-meet.” Some women are called to singleness, which is itself a high-calling. However, most women are called to marry and most of those are able to bear children. For those who cannot bear children, their role of a wife remains: she is to, together with her husband, subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it. For those who can bear children (like those pregnant college students in California), their role as a wife and mother is clearly set before them in Paul’s counsel to young women: “Therefore, I want younger women to marry, have children, manage their households, and give the adversary no opportunity to accuse us.” (1 Timothy 5:14).

The highest calling of woman is to serve Jesus Christ. The outworking of that service, however, must conform to the structure that God has instituted in the world: “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of every woman is the man” (1 Corinthians 11:3). This doesn’t demean woman, it elevates her, lifting her status and authority to its rightful place. Prior to the Enlightenment, Rushdoony notes, “women [in 17th-century England] were often in business, were highly competent managers, and were involved in the shipping trade, as insurance brokers, manufactures, and the like.” Ferdinand Lundberg and Marynia Farnham note:

Up to the eighteenth century women usually figured in business as partners with their husbands, and not in inferior capacities. They often took full charge during prolonged absences of their mates. In some instances, where they were the brighter of the pair, they ran the show.

Rushdoony also notes how “knowledge of early American history makes clear the high responsibilities of the woman.” New England sailing men, for instance, “could travel on two and three year voyages knowing that all business at home could be ably discharged by their wives.”

The competency and ability of woman that was (and still is) demonstrated does not mean that women should delegate the rearing of their children to the state. In many cases, husbands and wives would run their affairs together with their children, providing a real-life education that was far better than the one the California University system offers today. The proper way for a pregnant woman to “stay on track” is not to murder her child and continue her studies in a secular university, but rather to “marry, have children, [and] manage their households.” The most powerful institution on earth, it could be argued, is the home. To be a manager of the home provides a woman with far more influence and authority than being a CEO of a large corporation.

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