Why Reproductive Freedom Needs Church-State Separation.

AuthorLaser, Rachel K.

Last month, I had occasion to take a trip to San Francisco to participate in an exciting event that one of our supporters put together. The event about the relationship between church-state separation and reproductive freedom--featured Monika Bauerlein, editor-in-chief of Mother Jones magazine, facilitating a conversation between Stacy Cross, the head of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, and me.

There was so much to love about this discussion. As Monika said, it was unusual to be on an all-female panel and not have it be about women's leadership. Stacy is an incredibly powerful leader and opened with a heart-wrenching story about her grandmother, who died from an illegal abortion--but for a generation no one knew that was the cause except for one family member.

All three organizations turned out people for the event. I was proud that though ours was the only one based in D.C., we still had a huge showing. (Thanks to all you committed San Fran members who came out on a cold, rainy night!) It was also fun to hear from people who approached me after the event to say they weren't familiar with AU before but that "we rock"! Yeah! I know you members already knew that, but consider this a reminder that we need your help in continuing to spread the word about AU.

So, what's the link between church-state separation and reproductive freedom? It's actually notable how many of our older members have told me that reproductive freedom is at the heart of their support for Americans United. Why? They remember well a time when powerful religious groups held enormous sway over the government's policies in this area. They fight for church-state separation in large part to preserve a woman's ability to make her own decisions about her body. At the heart of reproductive freedom is religious freedom!

Which brings me to another highlight of this event an article I came across from the Baptist Press, written just after the Roe v. Wade decision came down in 1973. This publication of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) praised the ruling for nothing less than promoting freedom of conscience for all.

The words of the article are too good not to quote: "Question: Does the Supreme Court decision on abortion intrude on the religious life of the people?

"Answer: No.... People whose conscience forbids abortion are not compelled by law to have abortions. They are free to practice their religion according to the tenets of their...

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