Let’s Talk Faith and Reproductive Health and Rights (Yes, It Can Be Done!)
Often when we have conversations that feature both reproductive health and rights and faith, it seems the two subjects are diametrically opposed. But thanks to the large amount of diversity in the faith community, many individuals, communities, and organizations are supportive of bridging the gap between faith and reproductive health and rights! Reverend Katey Zeh, Executive Director for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, host of the Kindreds Podcast, and author of the book Women Rise Up: Sacred Stories of Resistance for Today’s Revolution, sits down with us to discuss why it’s important for people of faith to show public support for reproductive health and rights.
It’s no secret that religious authorities strategically remove or look right past women’s stories in the Bible at Sunday services. Especially in the Catholic church, patriarchal standards are deeply embedded and women are nowhere to be see in the power structure. Even still, Women Rise Up highlights women’s stories in the Bible to include resistance, survival, and claiming their sacred worth as women apart from male progeny.
But it isn’t all ancient! There are many examples of the intersection of faith and reproductive health and rights existing in contemporary society, one of those being purity culture. The church’s active role in pushing abstinence until marriage creates a gap in the understanding of sex, consent, one’s own body, and healthy relationships and leaves young people unprepared for sexual and romantic encounters. Purity culture also contributes to the discrediting of contraception and abortion care, and the conflation of methods of birth control as abortifacients. This makes purity culture damaging in both adolescence and adulthood.
Religious liberty is being weaponized as a way to undermine the sexual and reproductive health and rights movement. The current administration’s religious refusal rule allows for medical professionals and providers to deny patients care if they have a any presiding religious objection. This disproportionately impacts women seeking contraception, abortion care, and other reproductive health care as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community seeking inclusive and judgement-free health care, as well.
Throughout history, there have been many religious leaders that have assisted women in accessing abortion care because they felt it was their duty to their congregation. Recently, though, conservative politicians and religious leaders have taken control of the narrative on abortion and changed it considerably and negatively. Unfortunately this change prevents people around the world from accessing the health care they need and have a right to.
Links from this episode
Katey Zeh on Twitter
Women Rise Up: Sacred Stories of Resistance for Today’s Revolution
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice on Facebook
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice on Twitter
In God We Trust: West Wing Weekly episode