For nearly three years, I have been writing and speaking about abortion on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Comb through the articles that I’ve written and you’ll see an emphasis on facts. I cite research and statistics from medical and human rights organizations to explain why abortion is a secular issue. Abortion is health care, and a secular nation’s health care laws (or any laws) should not be dictated by religious interests.
This is a marked difference from Christian nationalists who are doing everything in their power to take away abortion care using only the bible as justification. Indeed, they have been working diligently for decades to impose their worldview on a secular nation. As a consequence, marginalized people have been suffering for decades. For example, the Hyde Amendment, which was praised by the Catholic Church, has denied affordable abortion for over 40 years to low-income people, those on federal health plans, Peace Corps volunteers, and women in the Indian Health Services Program.
Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned by an ultraconservative, Christian-majority Supreme Court, abortion is slated to become illegal in more than half of U.S. states and territories. While there have been tremendous efforts by health care professionals and activists to make possible abortion pills by mail, numerous people in this country will suffer physically, emotionally and financially because of abortion bans. Make no mistake, individuals will die because even though the most extremist states have provisions that allow abortion to “save the life of the mother” (i.e., the pregnant woman), physicians are already experiencing confusion over what medical care they can and cannot provide. Anti-abortion legislators and candidates are actively campaigning to do away with any exceptions — even to save the pregnant person’s life.
Just look at the response to the 10-year-old girl rape victim from Ohio who had to travel to Indiana for an abortion. Jim Bopp, general counsel for the National Right to Life, said that the child should have been denied an abortion: “She would have had the baby, and as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child.” The fact that the 10-year-old is a literal child and could have died from pregnancy and childbirth? Facts don’t matter.
Christian nationalists say that pregnancy under any circumstances is “God’s will” and a “blessing.” But research shows that the real blessing is abortion. The Turnaway Study, the first rigorous study of the effects of being denied a wanted abortion, determined that not only does abortion not harm women, but that 95 percent of individuals who received an abortion continued to feel that it was the right decision for them. In contrast, those who were denied an abortion had four times greater odds of living below the federal poverty level and lacking basic necessities such as food, housing and transportation. Women denied an abortion were also more likely to stay in contact with violent partners and experience serious health complications.
Again, to Christian nationalists, these facts don’t matter. If anything, they would contend women deserve these poor outcomes.
As freethinkers, we’re used to using reason and logic to voice to form our opinions. It is aggravating to see someone disregard facts and use the bible as a crutch for horrific legislation that impacts millions of people. People on the fence about abortion may be swayed by statistics and information. But what can we do about Christian nationalists determined to impose their religious doctrines on a secular nation?
I suggest these solutions:
- Speak up for abortion rights no matter what. That means that we say the word “abortion” so that it is no longer stigmatized. We are not bashful about announcing that abortion is health care and a human right.
- If we are drawn into a debate about what the bible says, we can simply respond that because we live in a secular country, the bible has no bearing on health care or any other legislation. (Not to mention, the bible doesn’t say anything against abortion. It does, however, have many passages allowing for the murder of children.)
- If your response to #2 is met with “Actually we ARE a Christian nation!” you can use these wonderful talking points by Andrew Seidel that debunk the Christian nation myth, or utilize FFRF’s brochure, “Is America a Christian Nation?” for more background.
- Vote in all elections, especially local elections. Your voice matters and you need to ensure that the people who sit on school boards, libraries, common councils and county boards represent fact — not faith.
- Donate to abortion funds. The Women’s Medical Fund of Wisconsin was founded by FFRF’s principal co-founder Anne Nicol Gaylor. One of the oldest abortion funds in the nation, it has already provided abortion care to 970 people in just the first six months of 2022. Since abortion is now banned in Wisconsin due to reinstatement of an 1849 law, the Women’s Medical Fund is be more important than ever. You can make a tax-deductible donation here.
- Sign up for Action Alerts from Freedom From Religion Foundation so you can be part of our national and state efforts to protect the separation of state and church.
No doubt, these are dark days. And I fear that they are going to get darker. Marriage equality and birth control very well may be next. This is not the time for us to retreat. Facts matter and our voices are needed more than never. Let’s work together for a future where science, logic, and reasoning prevail.