Abortion Rights Religious Supporters Say God Is On Their Side

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — It was lunchtime at the abortion clinic, so the recovery room nurse pulled her Bible out of her bag in the closet and started reading.

“Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,” her favorite saying goes, and she returns to it again and again. “He will make your paths straight. »

She believes God led her here, to a job at the West Alabama Women’s Center, caring for post-abortion patients. “I trust in God,” said Ramona, who asked that her last name not be used due to the volatility of the abortion debate in America.

In the parking lot, protesters yelled at patients arriving for appointments, fighting back against what they see as a grave sin.

The loudest voices in the abortion debate are often characterized by a blatant religious divide, believers versus nays. But the reality is much more nuanced, both in this abortion clinic and in the nation around it. The clinic’s staff of 11 – mostly black, deeply faithful Christian women – have no trouble balancing their work with their religion.

As the U.S. Supreme Court looks poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, dismantling the constitutional right to abortion, they rely on their faith that they will continue one way or another.

God will keep this clinic open, they tell themselves.

Robin Marty, who moved from Minneapolis to Tuscaloosa to help run this clinic, was surprised to hear nurses praying as the future of abortion becomes uncertain.

“That was one of the things that gave me a kick – I had this stereotype in my head of a religious person from the South,” Marty said. “I just assumed there was no compatibility between religious people and people who support the possibility of having an abortion.”

Marty realized she was wrong – most people are.

Black Protestants hold some of the most liberal views on abortion access: Nearly 70% believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. White evangelicals are at the other extreme, with just 24% believing abortion should be allowed in most or all cases. Yet it is their voices that usually dominate the conversation.

For loyal women of color, there’s often a very different balance of values, said Kendra Cotton, a member of the Black Southern Women’s Collective, a network of organizers, many of whom belong to faith groups.

“We know that Christianity supports freedom and that bodily autonomy is inherent in freedom. Free will is inherent in Christianity. When people say the body is a temple of God, you have power over your body, there is nothing more sacred,” Cotton said.

The idea that the state limits what a person can do with their own body is in direct conflict with this, she said, and it is reminiscent of being under someone’s control. another – from slavery.

“You can’t tell me what to do,” said Cotton

In Tuscaloosa, the West Alabama Women’s Center is half a mile from the University of Alabama campus. Although a large portion of the centre’s clientele are students, others come from all over the region. Many of their clients are black, many already have children, and more than 75% survive below the poverty line.

Many workers here are praying that the Supreme Court does not overrule Roe, because they know their poorest patients will bear the brunt of abortion bans. Wealthy women can travel to states where abortion is legal.

This clinic will try to stay open for those left behind. It transforms into a full-service gynecology practice that people can turn to if they are having a self-abortion and need medical attention, without fear of being reported to the police.

Working here, for Ramona, feels like a virtuous calling. She believes the Christian way is to love people where they are, and that means walking kindly with them as they make the best decision for themselves.

She heard stories of domestic violence. They have seen cancer patients who cannot continue their pregnancies while receiving chemotherapy and middle-aged rape victims. But most talk about the fear of having more mouths than they can afford to feed. She always says “I understand”.

“I mean, I get it, I’ve been through that myself,” she said.

Ramona, 39, is a single mother of four and had her first child when she was 16. She had to drop out of college. There were times when her children were young when she couldn’t pay the gas bill, and she boiled water so they could take hot baths.

Her daughter used to say, “Mom, I want to be like you,” and she would stop her. “No, ma’am,” she told him. “I want you to be better.” Her daughter is now 22 and studying to become a doctor.

She lifted herself out of poverty and built a life she loves.

For a while she tried to be friendly with one of the regulars who was protesting outside. She would visit him during his breaks and they would discuss the scriptures and forgiveness.

She said, “I see where you come from. Can you see where I come from? I’m not going to love you any less because of what you believe in or what you think.

Then one day, he shouted to her: When you die, you know where you’re going, and it’s not paradise. She no longer speaks to him.

Because she is at peace with God, she says. Her colleague at reception calls her Miss Wonderful – every day is a great day in the light of God, she said, and she believes this is the life God has prepared for her.

“Women go through so much, it’s hard,” she said. “So you should have that choice whether or not you’re ready to be a mother. Nobody else should choose for you.

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