- by Roe v. Wade has helped a nationwide network of women ministers seeking treatment for abortion.
- As historic rule approaches, similar networks of religious leaders are being revived.
- A Texas minister helps 20 people travel to New Mexico every two weeks for abortions.
Every two weeks, a group of 20 people board a plane in Dallas, Texas, accompanied by a clergyman.
They head to Albuquerque, New Mexico for a day trip to a clinic where everyone receives personalized reproductive care.
The group that organizes trips and raises funds is made up of Christian clergy and Jewish rabbis, united in a common goal of providing the people they need.
People on trips are eligible if they are below a certain income threshold. Some have never been on a plane before. Most of them have jobs. Some of them are university students. Almost all children.
Most of them get surgical abortions along the way. At the end of the long day, they all travel home.
“The resources they have to access what I consider a basic right to have an abortion and to have control over their own bodies are limited by their position in society, so this is a war on the poor,” said Daniel Kanter, First Minister and CEO of Daniel Kanter. I told the First Unitarian Church in Dallas from the inside.
Kanter organizes excursions with other clergy. Five years ago, he helped form a multi-faith ministry of Christian and Jewish ministers to advise women at an abortion clinic in Dallas. But things changed last year when Texas passed a particularly strict law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
“SB8 has changed almost everything about giving advice,” Kanter said. “Our patient burden increased from 100 patients per day to 30 patients per day and 15 did not qualify for an abortion because they were more than 6 weeks pregnant. So we moved on to the travel programme.”
With the advent of the Supreme Court ready to rule on Roe v. To topple Wade, more and more religious leaders are working to help people get the care they need. Other models, such as Kanter’s, are emerging or in the process of working, as a network of religious leaders who helped women perform abortions prior to Roe’s revival.
Religious leaders helped women get abortions before Ro
The Spiritual Counseling Service was founded in 1967, six years before Rowe, at a time when many states were outlawing abortion. Reverend Finley Schiff, a Methodist minister in Manhattan, co-founded the group after a mother asked him to help perform an abortion for her teenage daughter.
CCS has grown to more than 1,000 ministers in 38 states. According to Katie Zeh, pastor and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a group that grew out of CCS, they helped about half a million people have safe abortions between 1967 and 1973.
“Caring for people is central to our faith, so it’s no surprise that clergy were part of the group that helped people get abortion treatments,” Zeh told Insider.
When the CCS was formed, many Christian and Jewish traditions supported abortion rights, she said, “People understood that it was important — that people did not die from unsafe abortions.”
Zeh said that today’s clergy simply continue the work on reproductive rights that religious leaders have been doing for decades. She acknowledged the idea that believers, especially Christians, largely oppose abortion, but said that was inaccurate.
The survey indicates that most members of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and even Catholic traditions support abortion rights.
“It is just about a very vocal group of so-called white Christian nationalists who have made this central to their political platform and in particular have used and weaponized Christianity to make it seem like just one thing is clear. If you are a Christian, you should be against abortion,” Zeh said.
She added that the message has been repeated so many times that many people believe it, even though it is not statistically correct for many Christian traditions. Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and evangelists are generally more anti-abortion than other denominations, but Zeh said they don’t paint the full picture.
“Our voices are overshadowed by very marginal faith,” she said of Christians who support abortion rights.
Show networks from Minnesota to Ohio
Ruth Mackenzie, a resident pastor at Canters Church in Dallas, is one of the pastors who takes people on day trips to New Mexico.
“When I traveled from Dallas to New Mexico with these women, I was so sad and upset about what we’re doing to the women,” she told Insider. “All of these women have done something very intimate and difficult, all on their own.”
Days can last more than 13 hours. Care seekers go into a room with strangers and undergo medical procedures without their loved ones at their side, but MacKenzie said she was impressed with how the women supported each other.
MacKenzie returns to Minnesota next month and coordinates with other clergymen to replicate some of what the Kanter group is doing. Unlike Texas, Minnesota is unlikely to ban abortion and is likely to become a destination for abortion seekers, particularly from neighboring North Dakota and South Dakota states that have “stimulus laws.”
“We will be like New Mexico in Texas,” McKenzie said, adding that she is working with ministers in Minnesota to determine how best to support abortion clinics and the people who come to them from out of state.
Others are preparing for a post-Rowe world by providing advice and education on reproductive rights to religious communities. “The opposition loves to paint it because it’s jammed the market with morals,” Elena Ramsay, CEO of Faith Choice Ohio, told Insider.
With a focus on education, advocacy, and counseling, the group provides resources and training for believers and clergy to learn, debate, and advocate for reproductive rights and justice.
Faith Choice Ohio is also launching a faith-based abortion fund that will help abortion seekers travel abroad for treatment. The fund helps pay for travel and other expenses, such as care packages or childcare, and also provides spiritual advice to seekers.
“This is an essential part of the moral obligation that religious traditions must serve their neighbors and manifest themselves in times of crisis and beyond,” Ramzy said, though she acknowledged that religious groups doing this work can be suspect.
“I totally understand that, because opposition to abortion often comes from religious fanatics, people who claim a religious tradition but don’t speak for me as a Christian,” she said.
You often hear stories about how meaningful it is for believers to see religious leaders who support reproductive rights and simply reassure them that they don’t think they are going to hell for having an abortion.
“That’s why I’m doing this work. I want to take this back from all the anti-abortionists, the way they have armed faith and religion.” “We’re here to say it doesn’t have to be this way.”
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