As people of faith and religious leaders, we are deeply concerned about the recent wave of laws that would effectively ban abortion at the state-level. Although multiple bills have been signed into law, no abortion bans have yet gone into effect. Some have already been struck down by the courts, and all are expected to face lengthy court battles. Abortion is still legal in all 50 states
However, there are already large swaths of the country where abortion is inaccessible. Since 2010, state legislatures have enacted 424 measures designed to restrict access to abortion. Ninety percent of counties in the United States do not have an abortion clinic.
A faith-rooted perspective
Religion is often used to justify these authoritarian controls over reproductive autonomy. And, while there are sincere religious differences when it comes to abortion, the extreme abortion bans recently passed are ultimately not about a different ethical or theological understanding of reproduction. They are about a fundamental commitment to controlling women’s bodies, forcing individuals to bring every pregnancy to term, and devaluing the agency and humanity of women. Abortion bans and restrictions on access privilege a regime of control above the needs, rights, and autonomy of pregnant people.
Our religious traditions teach us that all people have dignity and worth and that we have a particular responsibility to care for those who are most vulnerable. Abortion bans and restrictions disproportionately harm low-income women, Black women, and non-Black women of color, denying their dignity and moral agency.
Religion is misused when it causes harm to others, burdens them with shame, denies them control of their bodies, or undermines their consciences. Justice, radical inclusion, moral autonomy, and care for the vulnerable must have the final say.
As people of faith and deep moral conviction, we unequivocally oppose these bans on abortion. They undermine individual moral agency and the ability to make personal health decisions according to one’s conscience, including whether and when to become parents. We affirm the moral agency of people seeking abortions and their moral authority to make reproductive decisions. Rooted in our commitment to love our neighbor, work for justice, and care for those in need, we commit to fighting these harmful bans. Below are some ways you can take faithful action.
Donate to your local abortion fund.
Because access to abortion has been steadily declining, abortion funds exist in nearly every state to help pregnant people access abortion care. Donating to these funds is the best way to help pregnant people get access to the care they need. Find your local abortion fund.
Support your local abortion clinic.
Give direct support to those seeking abortion care.
Give money and other resources to help pregnant people drive or fly to get the care they need, to be compensated for their time off work, and to find childcare for their existing children. (Some abortion funds also provide this type of support.)
Organize to help elect more progressive politicians.
Inform yourself of your elected officials’ positions on access to abortion, access to no-copay contraception, and comprehensive sexuality education. Attend town halls and make your voice heard. Look for groups in your community that you can join. If you are a faith leader, you already know that you can’t endorse a candidate from the pulpit. You can, however, provide educational materials on issues of importance to you community.
Take action within your faith community.
Taking action in support of abortion access and grounding it in your faith is an important way to challenge the notion that people of faith do not support abortion access. Below are some things you can do as a religious leader or person of faith
- Speak, preach, write, and teach about your faithful support for access to abortion.
- Reflect with your faith community on the Open Letter on Abortion as a Moral Decision.
- If you are a faith leader, encourage your congregants to take action as well.
- Dedicating part of your congregation’s budget to helping people access abortion care.
- Make a donation in support of the Religious Institute’s reproductive justice work. Your support allows us to offer Abortion+Faith trainings in religious communities, challenge the nation that people of faith oppose abortion, and resource clergy and people of faith to be effective advocates for reproductive justice.
Ground your action in the reproductive justice framework.
Access to abortion care is just one part of ensuring that women are able to thrive. Reproductive justice is the human right to bodily autonomy, to have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities. Learn about the reproductive justice framework, created in 1994 by Black women.
Take action in support of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA).
WHPA is a bill currently before Congress which would take crucial steps toward protecting access to essential reproductive health care and the constitutional rights of all people, no matter where they live. WHPA creates a federal safeguard against the erosion of abortion access caused by medically unnecessary restrictions and bans. Now is the time for Congress to ensure that everyone can seek abortion care free of government meddling and political influence. WHPA was re-introduced in the Senate on Thursday, May 23. Organizers are trying to ensure the maximum number of co-sponsors on this important legislation. Call or write your representative, asking them to co-sponsor and sharing why your faith calls you to support WHPA. Click here to access a sample letter.