Don’t make an idol of ideology
New Mexico has a history of trusting women when they need to make the personal and complex decision to end a pregnancy. As one of the many allied organizations leading the Respect ABQ Women campaign, the N.M. Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice has brought the support of many local clergy and congregations from diverse backgrounds to stand with the women and families of Albuquerque.
As people of faith, we believe that the moral responsibility of human beings – especially that of a woman when making decisions about her reproductive life – is God-given.
Clergy and congregations from traditions including Quakers, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist Association, and Reform and Conservative Judaism have endorsed the Respect ABQ Woman campaign. While they are religiously and theologically diverse, they are unified in their reverence for each woman’s autonomy and agency, and believe that it is not the place of any government to force any one particular reproductive health decision upon any woman.
People of faith from these and other traditions, as well as independent religious organizations, such as Catholics for Choice, believe the deeply personal and complex decision to end a pregnancy needs to remain solely where God has entrusted it, with a woman, according to her own faith and values – and with the counsel of the medical professionals, friends and family she wishes to involve, without government interference.
Further, as people from varying religious traditions, we humbly embrace the ambiguity about when life begins and still agree to respect every woman’s right to make decisions according to her own beliefs and conscience.
Codifying one narrow ideological viewpoint into public law undermines the religious freedom of everyone. With reverence for each woman’s autonomy and agency – and with a profound desire to safeguard the religious liberty of each American – the N.M. Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice affirms that it is not the place of any government to force any one particular reproductive health decision upon any woman. For us, the right to life, indeed the sacredness of life, means that there should be no absolute or unbreakable rules that take precedence over the lives of existing human persons.
Our faith traditions call upon us to advocate for the poor and marginalized. That means ensuring that every woman receives the health care she needs, including safe and legal access to abortion, regardless of her circumstances. Restrictions to reproductive health care, like the proposed ballot measure, hurt the most vulnerable of our society first and worst.
We know arbitrary limits to abortion have far-reaching consequences: for a woman, for those intimately connected with her, and for her existing and future children. We know that these well-intentioned laws have negative impacts on women from all walks of life.
Women facing the decision to have an abortion – whatever the reason – need compassion and support, not judgment, suspicion and denial. This restriction on access to abortion will disparately impact low-income women, women of color, young adults and women living in rural communities. We stand with these women because of our faith, not in spite of it.
Those promoting this dangerous ban on abortion in later pregnancy would like us to believe otherwise, but we know the majority of people of faith in Albuquerque and across New Mexico support women and their decisions. We trust each woman to make the best decision about her own life.
Compassionate people of faith know better than to make an idol of ideology. We will consider our own experiences and those of our neighbors, and will cast our ballots according to the dictates of our faith and in light of our own reason and experience. People of faith will vote against this ballot measure because they respect women, as they respect the conscience of every individual.
Vote against this misleading ballot measure on Nov. 19. Vote to respect ABQ women.
This piece was originally published by the Albuquerque Journal.