By Rev. Jamie Lynn Haskins
There are people who would tell you these three statements are contradictory, that you can’t be both Christian and support a woman’s right to choose, that religious leaders cannot stand with women as they make their own reproductive choices. I believe these people are wrong.
In the days ahead, as the United States navigates the almost certain reversal of Roe v. Wade, it will become increasingly important for pro-choice Christians to use their voices and faithfully speak up and speak out for a woman’s right to choose.
Often, it is evangelicals who dominate media and online presences claiming to have the "Christian" voice - but loud does not always mean right or representative of Jesus. As progressive Christians, our job is to counter that narrative and stand with women and their fundamental right to make their own healthcare decisions.
Christians follow a savior who calls us to stand with the poor and the marginalized. As the Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union, Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas noted on Twitter, “Overturning Roe v. Wade is an attack on women’s freedom and right to choose. Poor women – and especially poor women of color – would once again shoulder the burden of this decision, and they would have their choices limited and freedoms taken away.”
Just as Jesus stands with the poor time and time again in the New Testament, we are called to stand with women who do not have the resources to cross state lines for a medical procedure. We are called to stand with women who aren’t in the financial position to have children. We are called to stand with women whom the world attempts to strip of their rights and their agency. This is the faithful Christian response.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10b). Rev. Jes Kast of the United Church of Christ noted in her 2019 interview with The Atlantic, “The Greek word that’s used there for “life abundance” is this word zoe, which means not just that you’re living and breathing, but that God’s plan for our lives is to actually have a meaningful life with loving contentment and satisfaction.”
As Christians, it is our job to make sure as many people as possible have access to this abundant life. When we strip people of their choices and of their agency over their bodies, we prohibit them from determining what they need to thrive, to achieve this contentment and satisfaction God wants for us. Demanding that every person has the ability to make choices that allow them to thrive is the faithful Christian response.
In the days to come there will be loud voices claiming to speak for God, claiming to hold the only Christian response to abortion. My hope is that we progressive Christians will also be loud and use our voices to speak for justice and demand the flourishing of all people. This is the way of our God and the way of our faith. May we be brave enough and bold enough to offer a faithful response in the days to come.
Rev. Jamie Lynn Haskins is a college chaplain in Richmond, Virginia, and is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She co-edited Acting on Faith: Stories of Courage, Activism, and Hope across Religions (2020).