Many assume religious people are pro-life, and certainly the fundamentalists who deign to speak for us all would have everyone think so, but many national Christian and Jewish denominations have made pro-choice statements on abortion. Here is a sampling of national Christian and Jewish statements found on the website of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice:
“We believe that legislation concerning abortions will not address the root of the problem. We therefore express our deep conviction that any proposed legislation on the part of national or state governments regarding abortions must take special care to see that individual conscience is respected and that the responsibility of individuals to reach informed decisions in this matter is acknowledged and honored….” Episcopal Church
“Problem pregnancies are the result of, and influenced by, so many complicated and insolvable circumstances that we have neither the wisdom nor the authority to address or decide each situation….
We affirm the ability and responsibility of women, guided by the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, to make good moral choices in regard to problem pregnancies.” -Presbyterian Church
“We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers.” -Methodist Church
“Catholics for Choice was founded in 1973 and strives to be an expression of Catholicism as it is lived by ordinary people. We are part of the great majority of the faithful in the Catholic church who disagrees with the dictates of the Vatican on matters related to sex, marriage, family life and motherhood. We are part of the great majority who believes that Catholic teachings on conscience mean that every individual must follow his or her own conscience – and respect others’ right to do the same.
Catholic for Choice’s mission is to shape and advance sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women’s well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of women and men to make moral decisions about their lives. We are committed not only to policy change, but also to a change in the culture in which policy decisions are made, a change in people’s hearts and minds about the ways they think about sexuality and reproduction.” Catholics for Choice
“(We) Affirm our unwavering commitment to the protection and preservation of the reproductive rights of women; pledge our presence and support wherever, whenever, and for however long our goal may require it at the federal, state and local levels of government; further, we affirm our commitment to work in coalition with compatible pro-choice groups.” Union of Reform Judaism
“Judaism does not believe that personhood and human rights begin with conception. The premise that personhood begins with conception is founded on a religious position which is not identical with Jewish tradition. Therefore, under special circumstances, Judaism chooses and requires abortion as an act which affirms and protects the life, well being and health of the mother. To deny a Jewish woman and her family the ability to obtain a safe, legal abortion when so mandated by Jewish tradition, is to deprive Jews of their fundamental right of religious freedom…” United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism
“Although the Jewish tradition regards children as a blessing, a gift of life itself, the tradition permits the abortion of an unborn child in order to safeguard the life and physical and mental health of the mother. The rabbis did not take a consistent stand on the question of whether a fetus resembles “a person.” They did not think it possible to arrive at a final theoretical answer to the question of abortion, for that would mean nothing less than to be able to define convincingly what it means to be human.
We recognize that abortion is a tragic choice. Any prospective parent must make an agonizing decision between competing claims—the fetus, health, the need to support oneself and one’s family, the need for time for a marriage to stabilize, responsibility for other children and the like. Some of us consider abortion to be immoral except under the most extraordinary circumstances. Yet we all empathize with the anguish of those who must make the decision….” -Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
“We grieve with all who struggle with the difficult circumstances that lead them to consider abortion. Recognizing that each person is ultimately responsible to God, we encourage women and men in these circumstances to seek spiritual counsel as they prayerfully and conscientiously consider their decision…We also recognize that we are divided as to the proper witness of the church to the state regarding abortion…Consequently, we acknowledge the freedom of each individual to advocate for a public policy on abortion that reflects his or her beliefs.” -American Baptist
“For two decades the AFSC has taken a consistent position supporting a woman’s right to follow her own conscience concerning child-bearing, abortion and sterilization. AFSC is deeply aware that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is seldom an easy one. That choice must be made free of coercion, including the coercion of poverty, racial discrimination and availability of services to those who cannot pay.” (American Friends Service Committee)
The link below will take you to the full faith statements of these and other religious organizations. The larger documents detail the concerns each group has with abortion. Being pro-choice does not mean being pro-abortion. No one is pro-abortion any more than they are pro-amputation. Being pro-choice means believing women are moral agents and trusting that, if they have a full and healthy range of reproductive options, women will usually do a better job of making ethical decisions for their own lives than will the government or any one religious sect who would try to speak for us all.
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