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Most Religious Groups Don’t Want to Overturn Roe v. Wade

Tara Culp- Ressler
Think Progress / News Report
Published: Thursday 17 January 2013
“Although the anti-choice community attempts to brand women’s health issues as if they are always in opposition to religion, reproductive rights are not actually incompatible with faith communities.”
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As the 40th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision approaches, new polling finds that — despite the GOP’s best efforts to use religion as a wedge in the abortion rights debate — most religious groups don’t actually support overturning the court decision.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life finds that a slight majority of white evangelicals, 54 percent, report they would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned. But that’s the only religious group that remains largely opposed to legal abortion access. Strong majorities of the other religious groups sampled would rather leave Roe in place — 76 percent of white Protestants, 65 percent of black Protestants, and 63 percent of white Catholics all support maintaining women’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

Pew’s poll also confirms that even when religious Americans are personally opposed to abortion, they don’t favor making the medical procedure unavailable to other women who may choose it for themselves. This attitude is reflected in Planned Parenthood’s recent branding, as the women’s health group suggests they may move away from the “pro-choice” and “pro-life” labels. “A majority of Americans believe abortion should remain safe and legal. Many just don’t use the words pro-choice,” the group’s latest video asserts.

Although the anti-choice community attempts to brand women’s health issues as if they are always in opposition to religion, reproductive rights are not actually incompatible with faith communities. Just as most people of faith support maintaining women’s right to a legal abortion, religious people also support women’s access to affordable contraception. The GOP’s politicized effort to chip away at Catholic support for Obamacare’s birth control provision ended up falling flat, since a full 82 percent of Catholics believe birth control is morally acceptable. Even conservative evangelicals — the religious group that tends to be most hostile to reproductive rights — are slowly beginning to start supporting contraception and family planning services.

ABOUT Tara Culp- Ressler

TARA CULP-RESSLER is an editorial assistant at Before joining ThinkProgress, Tara deepened her interest in progressive politics from a faith-based perspective at several religious nonprofits, including Faith in Public Life, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and Interfaith Voices.


This article's story misses

This article's story misses an important aspect of the picture on religions and abortion. It's not just a matter of by-the-numbers individual preferences of persons of various religious labels. The anti-abortion crusade and its success in taking over Republican dogma owes largely to Vatican doctrine, not the opinions of masses of individual American Catholics. So what's really important to understand is that some other religions do NOT join the Vatican in doctrinally opposing abortion. In particular, while Orthodox (unlike non-Orthodox) Jews individually largely oppose abortion, in fact traditional Jewish law does not forbid abortion. In fact, when abortion is the prime available procedure to save the life of a pregnant woman, Jewish law REQUIRES an abortion.

This should be no

This should be no surprise.

Ever since 1973, whenever there is a poll asking straight up "Do you support a woman's right to choose?" Americans always answer in the affirmative 65-70% of the time.

The problem has been that most polls don't ask the question straight up. The question always seems to be nuanced in some odd way so as to avoid the fact that the vast majority of Americans do support a woman's right to choose. Period.

Anybody who doesn't understand that just needs to get over it, and get out of the way.

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