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From Rights to Rites: A Eucharistic Reframing of the Abortion Debate

Eugene R. Schlesinger

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In our cultural climate abortion remains a divisive issue, in which much of the rhetoric is toxic. My argument bypasses the usual but contested questions of rights, the beginnings of life, and even moral rectitude, and instead analyzes the Book of Common Prayer’s eucharistic liturgy to inform and transform the way Christians approach the debate. Proceeding along ex convenientia lines, I develop a eucharistic account of the body as indefinable and ungraspable, and apply the epiclesis to show that the Eucharist cultivates dispositions oriented away from the practice of abortion. As eucharistic action is voluntary, rather than coerced, this approach also vitiates any potential violation of conscience, keeping it within the parameters set by the Episcopal Church’s statements on abortion. Finally, the practice of Eucharist transforms the way opponents in the abortion debate view one another, by referring beyond the current state of affairs to a future of joyful unity and sharing.

 
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