Guest Author - Tracey-Kay Caldwell
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice was founded in 1973 to safeguard the newly won constitutional right to abortion. The Coalition founders were clergy and lay leaders from mainstream religions, many of whom had provided women with referrals to safe abortion services before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade. I had the opportunity to discuss with Marjorie Signer, Communication Director for RCRC, the issues surrounding pro choice and faith.
Question: The banner at the top of your web site says, pro faith, pro family, pro choice. Can pro choice be compatible with pro faith and pro family?
Marjorie: People who are pro-choice care very much about their families--that is a reason they believe in planning their children and why they support contraception and sexuality education. Most people have a religion or a belief system or are spiritual so yes, these are compatible.
Question: If I could wave a magic wand and give you all the time and money that faith based organizations are using to defeat Roe, How would you use this time and money?
Marjorie: I would ask clergy to travel to congregations and denominational meetings to talk to people face-to-face and explain why reproductive choice is the most moral and logical position for people of faith and religious institutions to hold.
Question: If Roe were overturned, and women no longer had access to legal abortions, what kind of burdens might this place on the faith based community?
Marjorie: As they did before Roe, clergy may have to once again counsel women and refer women to places where abortion is legal. They may also have to help them obtain resources for an abortion.
Question: Do you think that there is a relationship between the attempts to overturn Roe and a lack of respect for religious freedom and diversity? Do they want to control, not just our access to abortion but to dictate our religious beliefs and behaviors?
Marjorie: Yes, those who oppose reproductive rights are often the same people who want to impose their version of religion on everyone.
Question: What message would you have for political candidates who want to shy away from this issue?
Marjorie: The majority of Americans--over 60%--are pro-choice, in that they believe a decision about abortion--either for or against--should be made by a woman, not the state. If politicians who are basically pro-choice would learn to speak about abortion in broader terms, they would have much more support. They should talk about trusting women to make responsible decisions--men and women alike respond to that message. More than 43 million American women have had an abortion. Women, and men, will eventually distrust politicians who distrust women.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice provides information about the spiritual and theological dimensions of reproductive choice and religious freedom, including comprehensive sexuality education, family planning, contraception, teen pregnancy prevention, and abortion. Be sure to check out their website.