RCRC Statement on Kentucky and Mississippi Abortion Laws

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Mollie Katz

March 23, 2019



The governors of Kentucky and Mississippi have each signed uncommonly tough restrictions on abortion into law in recently. These laws ban abortion beginning when a fetal heartbeat is detectable on an ultrasound, typically at just six weeks of gestation, often before some women even know they are pregnant. These are among the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion laws in states where access to abortion is already difficult because only one clinic provides abortion care in each state.

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) responded with this statement:

Many voices are sounding vigorous opposition based on the legal and medical aspects of the new laws restricting abortions in Kentucky and Mississippi, and RCRC shares those concerns. We also challenge the underpinnings of these egregious and severe laws. Pro-choice clergy and laypeople committed to a range of Protestant, Jewish and Catholic beliefs stand with us, including the Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

Supporters of this legislation in both states who cite their religious beliefs as motivation are using these laws to impose their beliefs on everyone, even at the risk of compromising women’s health and well-being.

In our current political climate, conservative Christians feel emboldened to shape policy based on their own religious understandings of when life begins. Yet there are different interpretations among religions and even within religious groups as to when life begins and the extent to which a pregnant woman’s circumstances should be considered. To codify one religious standard and impose it as law on all people violates the religious liberty on which our country was founded.

A cornerstone of our nation’s freedom is the principle that no one religious view should dominate in our civic life. RCRC’s supporters of many faiths – and some of no faith – believe that when a woman is making reproductive decisions, others’ religious beliefs should never interfere, and should certainly not be imposed by law.

Our religious beliefs also affirm the free will inherent in every person, because we all are created equally in God’s image. We cherish this free will, which includes a woman’s right and capacity to make moral decisions concerning her body, her life, and her family.

We are encouraged that the Kentucky law has quickly been blocked – if temporarily – by a federal judge and that the Mississippi law will be challenged in federal court as well. These laws, and similar ones in the pipeline in other states, blatantly attempt to ban abortion completely by making it inaccessible. Not only does this jeopardize women’s health and well-being, but it is an affront to the beliefs and values of the many faiths that embrace our pro-choice point of view.

Clergy who have been associated with what today is RCRC defied abortion bans for years before Roe v. Wade and worked to reverse these bans. Their example inspires us to stand strong against today’s attacks on reproductive freedom.

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