Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern
Freedom From Religion Foundation
Abortion appears to be a controversial topic that has the power to divide friends, families and communities — the “one issue” that can polarize voters along religious lines. However, is it really such a divisive, religious subject?
Surveys and studies indicate that the majority of Americans, regardless of religious affiliation, support abortion rights. Even as abortion rights in the United States are under increasing attack, especially with the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, such assaults do not reflect mainstream views.
For example, a new Pew Research Center poll has found that more than half (56 percent) of U.S. Catholics think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. In fact, a 2019 survey found that nearly two-thirds of Catholics (68 percent) do not want the Supreme Court to completely overturn Roe v Wade.
Catholics for Choice, an organization that supports abortion rights and rejects the nomination of Barrett, renounces the notion that Catholic bishops and leadership represent the American people. Says Acting President Sarah Hutchinson Ratcliffe, “The church is the people in the pews. The people are pro-choice, and they vote like it.”
Furthermore, a recent survey by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University found that four out of 10 Christians are unsure about the bible’s position on abortion. The report showed that 44 percent of the 2,000 respondents thought the bible was “ambiguous in its teaching about abortion” and 34 percent said that “abortion is morally acceptable if it spares the mother from financial or emotional discomfort or hardship.”
These results parallel other findings: A survey by NARAL Pro-Choice America demonstrated that 73 percent of Protestants, 70 percent of Roman Catholics, 83 percent of voters who practice another form of Christianity, 89 percent of Jewish voters, 60 percent of Muslims and 87 percent from other faiths support access to abortion. A new FFRF major secular voter poll reveals that a whopping 98.8 percent of nonreligious voters support abortion rights And a Gallup report, “Legality of Abortion: 2018-2020 Demographic Tables,” found that 79 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or under certain circumstances. It is clear and indisputable that a majority of Americans don’t want Roe v. Wade overturned.
These findings demonstrate one cohesive message: Abortion is a nonreligious issue. People across various walks of life, religious and nonreligious alike, agree that abortion is health care and should not be restricted.
Furthermore, as the previously mentioned Cultural Research Center survey shows, people who read the bible are unclear about its position on abortion. And for good reason: The bible does not have any anti-abortion messages. In fact, the word “abortion” does not appear in any translation of the bible, and the Mosaic law in Exodus 21:22-25 does not indicate that an embryo or a fetus is a human being.
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Even though the overwhelming majority of religious and nonreligious people support abortion, there were 25 new anti-abortions regulations signed into law across 12 states last year. Christian Nationalism’s extremist worldview drives this cultural, social and political wedge into an otherwise uncontroversial and widely agreed upon understanding that abortion is health care that should not be restricted. And Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s hostility toward abortion rights, and affiliation with the Religious Right, threatens to make abortion access even more narrow if she is confirmed to the high court.
We cannot sit idly during this takeover: Christian Nationalism does not represent the majority of Americans and it is an infringement on our nation’s foundational principle of the separation between state and church. We must call our senators and urge them one last time (Senate switchboard: 202-224-3121) to reject the confirmation of Barrett to the Supreme Court. And then we must continue to rally, mobilize and demand that our courts and public officials honor reproductive rights and the overwhelmingly pro-choice views of the American people.
Barbara Alvarez is from Madison, Wis., and attends the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working on a Ph.D. in library and information sciences with a minor in gender and women’s studies. Alvarez was a major winner in last year’s FFRF essay competition for graduate students, writing about the bible’s role in the abortion battle. She is FFRF’s first Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern, a program set up to memorialize FFRF’s principal founder, who was an early abortion rights activist and author of the book Abortion is a Blessing.