Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Religious AND Pro-Choice?
There are so many deeply rooted assumptions about people who are pro-choice, about women who have abortions, and about people who work in reproductive rights that it's truly astounding. I sometimes think we could have a whole blog just dedicated to all the myths and stigma surround abortion. One of my favorites is that you can't be spiritual - or religious - and be pro-choice (or have an abortion).
In fact, most of women who have abortions consider themselves Protestant. You might even be surprised to know that we truly owe many clergy during the 1960s and 1970s our gratitude for helping to pave the way for making abortion legal in the USA. Surprised? Believe it or not, there was a group called the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion in New York in the 1960s. The founder was an American Baptist Minister. This set the groundwork for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
A brief list of well-known pro-choice religious organizations/groups include:
- The Episcopal Church (USA)
- The Presybterian Church (USA)
- Unitarian Universalists
- United Church of Christ
- United Methodist Church
- Union of American Hebrew Congregations
- National Council of Jewish Women
Are you surprised? You might be. I even know Abortioneers who sometimes are unsure of what their religion teaches about abortion and whether, according to their own church, if they are doing "something wrong" by working in Abortionland. Maybe you wonder sometimes, too. If so, hopefully some of the above resources will help put your mind to rest that many mainstream religious are actually pro-choice.
I was raised in a conservative Protestant church that's anti-choice. I struggled, trying to reconcile my personal beliefs with the beliefs I was taught by people I trusted. Eventually, I realized I was my own person, with my own set of beliefs and I simply didn't accept the things I was taught (it wasn't an easy process). I've made the choice not to be religious; but I've thoughtfully learned (throughout the years) about religious groups that more closely shared my pro-choice view: there are plenty out there and that certainly helped me at times when I considered switching churches.
In high school, while I was practicing my religion of origin, Bill Clinton was up for President. I remember confiding in my Catholic friends that I didn't accept Clinton because he was pro-choice (even though I wasn't old enough to vote). My closest friend at the time told me that our favorite teacher confided in her that his family prayed about which candidate to vote for, and prayed, specifically, about the abortion issue. Their answer: that they should support Clinton and support a woman's right to choose. I recoiled at such a notion and believed that no god would send such an answer in a prayer to anyone. I know that to this day, that teacher, whom I'm still in touch with, is very devoted to their religion. The religion just happens to be on the pro-choice list.
Certainly a lot of women I see ask, "I just hope god will forgive me." I always ask, "Well, what do you believe about god? Do you believe your god is a forgiving god?" I've never heard a woman say, "no" (and I want to say that I personally don't believe there's anything to be "forgiven" of!).
...So, I'm just wondering if any of you have had similar struggles and what you've done - or what you're doing - about it. Feel free to share!!