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A growing number of pro-abortion churches in Texas are vowing to fight a new state law that prohibits performing abortion procedures after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which typically occurs at around six weeks' gestation.
The churches, known as "Reproductive Freedom Congregations," are united in their public support for a woman's right to an abortion and are determined to "take God back" from the religious right.
What are the details?
The initiative was spearheaded last week by the religious group "Just Texas: Faith Voices for Reproductive Justice" with the aim of training pastors on how to preach on reproductive health issues from the pulpit, the Religious News Service reported.
It was officially organized in anticipation of Texas's new pro-life law, which allows private citizens to file a civil lawsuit against doctors who perform abortions after six weeks or anyone who "aids and abets" the procedure.
During a press conference on Wednesday, the group said 25 congregations had already agreed to hold the designation and another 70 were going through the process.
According to Just Texas' website, to become a "Reproductive Freedom Congregation," a church must publicly affirm three principles:
- We trust and respect women.
- We promise that people who attend our congregation will be free from stigma, shame, or judgment for their reproductive decisions, including abortion.
- We believe access to comprehensive and affordable reproductive health services is a moral and social good.
Just Texas also encourages member churches to go through training sessions in preparation for testifying about reproductive health care or for participating in marches and protests about reproductive freedom issues.
What are people saying?
"The church is an ideal place to love people into wholeness and what our church has been about for a long time and inviting people to speak their truths and not be silenced about reproductive issues," said Rev. Dr. Daniel Kanter of the First Unitarian Church in Dallas.
"We live in a country where a third of women have had an abortion, which means that on a Sunday morning when I'm preaching to my congregation, I can assume that a third of the women there have had an abortion," added Reverend Dr. Colin Bossen, senior minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston, in an interview with KRIV-TV on Sunday.
"There are progressive liberal mainstream churches that are synagogues and mosques and temples that are out there and believe in reproductive freedom for women," Bossen continued. "We're going to make our voices known."
The reverend claimed that Texas's new abortion ban is "straight out of" the "fascist playbook."
But Just Texas' mission extends far beyond just reproductive health care, according to Rev. Erika Forbes, the faith and outreach manager for Just Texas.
It may have started with preaching abortion access, but the end goal is a drastic shift in how the American church views an array of social issues.
"I am on a quest, we are on a quest, to take God back from the hostage situation that the conservatives have hijacked, and I absolutely feel that the God that I believe in, the God that I serve, called by many names, and no name at all, trusts and respects women," Forbes said.
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