Religious Diversity and A Woman’s Right to Choose: The Religious Right’s Mistakenly Assumed Monopoly on Belief and Religious Support for Abortion

42 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2023

See all articles by Deborah Machalow

Deborah Machalow

University of Toledo - College of Law; Independent

Date Written: June 20, 2022

Abstract

Often the loudest voices in the debate about abortion are those who oppose it on religious grounds, leading many to assume that most or all people of faith share that opposition. This assumption is simply not accurate. Majorities of many religious groups — like a majority of Americans generally —believe that abortion should be legal in at least some cases. Majorities of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, as well as a sizeable portion of Christians believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. These people of faith find support for their pro-choice position in their respective religious texts, doctrines, and proclamations. Recognition of this fact is more important now given that the Supreme Court appears poised to restrict or overturn Roe v. Wade. By permitting states to curtail abortion access, the Supreme Court will be catering to an outspoken religious minority, ignoring how doing so infringes on others’ deeply held religious beliefs.

This article provides a timely discussion of the intersection between religion and abortion. It begins by exploring how Americans think about abortion generally, before providing an overview of the constitutional jurisprudence from Griswold v. Connecticut to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health and the ongoing saga of the Texas Heartbeat Law. Then, it summarizes the religious doctrines underpinning the Religious Right’s opposition to abortion before contrasting it with support for abortion access among faith communities. Next, the article explores religious texts, doctrines, opinions and proclamations supporting abortion access in Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Eastern religions. Finally, the article will discuss the integral role religious leaders played in abortion access before Roe and hypothesize that following the forthcoming decision in Dobbs, religious leaders may have to take up the mantle yet again.

Keywords: abortion, religious diversity

Suggested Citation

Machalow, Deborah, Religious Diversity and A Woman’s Right to Choose: The Religious Right’s Mistakenly Assumed Monopoly on Belief and Religious Support for Abortion (June 20, 2022). Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 22, No. 3, 2022, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4511884

Deborah Machalow (Contact Author)

University of Toledo - College of Law ( email )

2801 W. Bancroft Street
Toledo, OH 43606
United States

Independent ( email )

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