Beliefnet
Progressive Revival

Thirty-six years ago today, women were legally granted a basic right of conscience. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that women, rather than politicians, appointed boards of physicians, or review panels, were the ones to decide whether or not to have an abortion. 

Since then, the issue of abortion has inflamed cultural wars and spurred polarizing rhetoric, where opponents have demonized each other and claimed to have justice on their side. Also since then, millions of women have had safe, legal abortions, after which the vast majority felt a mixture of feelings but mostly gratitude and relief. 

Now comes a pause in the abortion wars. Thanks to the hard work of groups on both sides of the issue, we are finding common ground-agreeing on ways in which we can reduce unintended pregnancies and also ways in which we can provide real support to women who want to continue their pregnancies.

This is good news. And it points a way forward. Surely we ought to be able to agree on the need for reliable, affordable and accessible contraception; on the importance of age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education; and on the necessity of good pregnancy-related care for all women. 

And while we agree to all these things, we must also acknowledge that we will never reduce the number of abortions to zero-and so we must provide women with safe and affordable abortion care. In addition, we must respect the conscience of women who choose abortion-and while recognizing its moral complexity-should never stigmatize women who choose abortion or assume that for them it is a “tragedy.” 

In the spirit of the new administration, let us commit ourselves to women’s health and rights, and to the well-being of their families. And let us recognize that basic rights for women are human rights.   

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