EDITOR’S NOTE: The following was submitted by clergy serving Episcopal churches in the Lafayette area.
The abortion debate in the United States has often been framed using unfortunate, even tortured dichotomies: pro-life versus pro-choice, liberal versus conservative, Christian values versus secular rights, bodily autonomy versus the sanctity of life.
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These dichotomies are unfortunate because they suggest that abortion is strictly a matter of choice or that values and assumptions are simple and straightforward. Dichotomies are tortured both because they ignore the different values at stake (such as rights, holiness, autonomy, health, etc.) or because they are hypocritical. In our current political environment, for example, being “pro-life” on abortion rarely extends to being substantially “pro-life” on universal access to health care, maternity care, family leave, to childcare or access to quality education (not to mention access to housing, a basic income, the death penalty or gun violence).
Conversations about rights tend to overlook the corresponding duties that come with them or fail to take seriously the value or sanctity of life more generally.
We write this as ordained Christian clergy serving in The Episcopal Church. Our Church teaches that all human life is sacred, and in baptism we pledge to honor the dignity of every human being. As our Church has recognized and reaffirmed over the past decades, there is something tragic in every abortion and this requires the care and compassion of the entire Christian community.
At the same time, we insist that access to health care, including reproductive care, is an essential element of everyone’s dignity and worth as a human being. These are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, legislating against abortion will not create a “culture of life”, but rather will increase suffering in multiple ways.
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This will put the lives of mothers in danger. This will create additional pressure on already struggling families. And it will disproportionately affect people of color and the poor. Studies have repeatedly shown that the best way to reduce the number of abortions is not to make abortion illegal, but rather to provide comprehensive sex education, access to birth control, access to health care, food and housing.
As such, we are gravely concerned that the United States Supreme Court may soon overrule Roe. V. Wade and other decisions affirming access to reproductive health care and safe abortions. We are also concerned that if this happens, our own state legislature will rush to create laws further restricting these rights in Indiana.
We believe that equitable access to health care, including reproductive health care for women, is essential to respecting the dignity and worth of every human being; and we urge our state and federal legislators to make compassionate decisions that contribute to the well-being of every citizen.
Reverend Andrea Arsene, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette
Reverend Dr. Gretchen Freese, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette
Reverend Dr. Bradley Pace, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette
The Reverend Dr. Hilary Cooke, Chapel of the Good Shepherd, West Lafayette