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|Hayley Matthews • 10/04/16|
The 411: For more than four decades, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice has been the face and voice of reproductive health, rights and justice for people of faith.
Abortion and faith are often polarizing topics, especially when you put them together. While some might assume religious people are against abortion, that’s not always the case.
According to Pew Research Center, only 17 percent of Protestants and 15 percent of Catholics would ban abortion entirely. The vast majority of Christians think abortion should be legal in at least some circumstances, with 42 percent of Protestants and 47 percent of Catholics saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) is also proof that this stereotype is not true.
Founded in the 1970s and made up of more than two dozen organizations, RCRC is building a grassroots movement with advocates and leaders of various religions to stand up for the reproductive rights of individuals, including having easy access to all-inclusive sex education and contraception.
“That rich history of ministry in local places with real people is part and parcel of all that we do at RCRC,” said Rev. Harry Knox, President and CEO. “Our first role is a pastoral one, caring about the people in our congregations and in our communities as rabbis and ministers and pastors and priests.”
The backbone of RCRC is to help people see that the important work the team does is because of their faith, not in spite of it. Faith inspires, empowers and encourages them to make the world a more accepting and understanding place.
And a big part of that is training faith leaders to talk about reproductive justice and become ambassadors for women, particularly during a time when a woman’s right to make decisions for herself about when and whether to have children is in jeopardy.
“We believe various faiths are a source of solace, comfort, help and encouragement for women and families facing reproductive decision-making and also reproductive loss, anything from infertility to miscarriage to abortion,” Knox said. “We help clergy to know how to be good pastoral care providers in their roles as rabbis or ministers or pastors.”
Through these unique training programs and a strong group mentality, RCRC is able to help women at a local, state and nationwide level and make an impact on legislation that attempts to take away their rights.
RCRC will continue to become a more powerful voice for reproductive justice across the country, especially in the Southeast, where a large amount of political opponents and organizations of opponents are based.
“We seek to be the organization at the intersection between faith and the reproductive health, rights and justice communities. We’re also helping people of faith understand and articulate concepts of reproductive justice to a broader audience,” Knox said. “We believe everyone should be able to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality and health and wholeness, so spreading that message and bringing it to places like Congress are the kinds of things that we do routinely.”
It’s easy to see that women and men of faith need support and not judgment when making important personal decisions, and we know RCRC will be there for them for the next 40 years and beyond.
“We seek to remind people of what they already know about their faith in those moments and help them to access passion and care and wisdom as they seek to make their own decisions about what’s right for them and their families,” he said. “Whenever we empower our neighbors to make decisions for themselves and stand with them once those decisions are made and support them, then better outcomes are achieved.”
To learn more about the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, visit rcrc.org.