A Quiet Faith: Pro-Choice Clergy Speak Out

Rev. Jill McAllister

While few pro-choice religious leaders get noticed, across the country clergy provide support to their parishioners struggling with medical issues - including reproductive health care.

The much-discussed notion of so-called pro-life feminism, especially within communities of faith and among young people, is simply misguided. 

As a religious leader, I have spoken with many young people in my community who believe that reproductive rights are central to promoting respect for women’s dignity. With so few pro-choice religious leaders getting notice, you would never know that many clergy advocate for access to a full range of reproductive options.

Across the country, clergy provide support to parishioners when struggling with medical issues and women’s reproductive health care is no different.  In my work to promote social justice, I have provided counseling for young people and other individuals faced with difficult decisions about reproduction and I know firsthand the importance of making high-quality reproductive health education and care affordable and accessible to all those who seek it. This is why I work with and support Planned Parenthood.

Clergy and people of faith have always been an integral force in expanding reproductive freedom and women’s rights.  In the earlier years of Planned Parenthood, many churches housed Planned Parenthood health centers. Clergy have also helped make contraceptive services available and have denounced religious opposition to birth control.

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As a counselor in my community, it is imperative to me that individuals are provided with access to a full range of reproductive health services, including education, contraception, adoption referral, health screenings and abortion. The choice to terminate a pregnancy is a profoundly intimate choice and I believe that no religious leader has the right to force a decision on any individual.

The reproductive rights movement is not about forcing anyone into a decision but rather about empowering every woman to make her own choice in consultation with herself, her partner, her doctor, her clergy person and her god.  

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