Meet the Religious Groups Fighting to Save Abortion Access

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  • Religious leaders from many denominations are working to preserve access to abortion care if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
  • While some religious groups, like the Catholic Church or Southern Baptists, oppose abortion in all cases, other groups, like the Episcopal Church and United Methodist Church, support abortion access.
  • In a Pew survey, more than 50 percent of people from different religious groups supported legal abortion.

The fight over abortion access has often involved religious groups, leading many to falsely believe that religion goes hand-in-hand with the anti-abortion movement.

While certain religious groups — like the Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — oppose abortion, many others support access to abortion.

The Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, and Judaism are a few of the many religious groups that support legal abortion.

As the future of Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance, many faith leaders, including people affiliated with religious groups that have historically opposed abortion, are taking a stance and fighting for abortion access.

These faith leaders are expanding their abortion-rights curriculum, partnering with clinics and abortion funds, and ramping up spiritual counseling services for pregnant people who want to get an abortion.

This work is not new. It’s part of a long legacy of people of faith working to protect reproductive freedom.

“In many of our religious traditions, we see in our sacred texts there were always sacred people who resisted unjust laws to do justice and to show kindness and compassion to each other,” Rev. Katey Zeh, an ordained Baptist minister, CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and author of “A Complicated Choice,” told Healthline.

Many religious groups support abortion rights

Zeh said the majority of people in the United States, including those who practice faith traditions, support legal abortion.

A Pew survey found that about 66 percent of people who identify as Black Protestants and 60 percent of people who identify as white Protestants that are not evangelical believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Additionally, 56 percent of Catholics say they think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

However, about 74 percent or three out of four white evangelical protestants say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

“What we see represented by what I would call ‘white Christian nationalists’ on this issue is actually a fringe belief. It is so overrepresented that people start conflating the two, when in reality the majority of people of faith support legal abortion,” Zeh told Healthline.

Zeh pointed out that across religious denominations, different clergy and faith leaders have always been active in the fight for reproductive rights.

Zeh’s organization, for example, can be traced back to the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, a group created in the 1960s by clergy who helped pregnant people access safe abortions by reputable doctors before Roe v. Wade was in place.

“The work that we’re doing now isn’t new. It’s actually old,” Zeh said.

How religious groups are providing support 

Rev. Angela Williams, a Presbyterian pastor and the lead organizer of SACReD: Spiritual Alliance of Communities for Reproductive Dignity, told Healthline that faith leaders and religious groups that support abortion rights have been preparing for this moment for a long time.

“We’re not quite in a reactionary mode because this has been what we’ve expected the whole time,” Williams said.

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, which provides spiritual support and medical and legal advice to pregnant people before, during, and after an abortion, has created webinars to educate people on the relationship between religion and reproductive health.

The organization has also developed skills-based courses that teach people how to volunteer, provide practical care to people, and support the spiritual needs of people who are going through the abortion process.

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is part of the larger faith-based network SACReD, which has developed a curriculum to help various congregations across the United States support and embrace reproductive rights.

Catholics for Choice, an abortion-rights Catholic nonprofit, is developing new literature for clinics about the conflicting feelings some Catholic patients may have about getting an abortion, said Jamie L. Manson, president of the nonprofit.

Manson’s team is also producing new educational resources on how pregnant people can talk with Catholic family members about abortion, all while preparing for an influx of calls from people who need help finding an abortion fund, local clinic, or spiritual guidance.

“Right now, we are talking to other faith groups in a coalition to figure out how we can provide that support to Catholics,” Manson said.

Catholics for Choice, along with a number of other religious organizations, filed an amicus brief in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization suit to further the case for reproductive freedom.

Religious groups are working with clinics and practical support services

On the ground, members of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice have partnered with local clergy and visited abortion clinics to offer spiritual guidance for staff who deal with harassment from anti-abortion protesters.

They’ve also partnered with organizations, including abortion funds and local clinics, to help pregnant people navigate the abortion care journey.

For anyone who wants to get an abortion but is concerned about their own faith or how their faith community or religious family members will react, Williams recommends reaching out to Faith Aloud. This national service provides nonjudgmental spiritual counseling for people experiencing difficulty with pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption.

Williams said if faith communities can get loud enough with their support, pregnant people will know they can come to certain congregations and faith leaders for help.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, there is going to be a huge need for volunteers of all kinds within faith communities across the country to help pregnant people get the reproductive healthcare they need, according to Zeh.

“Faith communities will be integral to that, to provide the kind of support that’s going to be necessary — both practical support, in terms of getting people where they need to go to get care, raising money for those services and expenses they’re going to have, advocacy work — all of those things are going to be huge when the decision comes down,” said Zeh.

The bottom line

Many religious groups and faith leaders support abortion access and are actively working to protect the right to safe, legal abortions.

By expanding their educational programs, spiritual counseling services, and partnerships with local abortion clinics and funds, religious organizations are preparing to help more pregnant people access safe abortions.

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