Should someone's religious beliefs give them the right to take the life of an unborn child? A story published at Vice last week raises the question by portraying abortion in terms of free exercise for some believers.
Here's a sampling of the story:
[T]he success of the Christian anti-abortion movement has overshadowed another group of religious Americans: those who say that the right to abortion is part of their religion. This group includes Jews, Muslims, and even Christians who believe their faith allows — and sometimes even requires — abortion under certain circumstances. They say the right to abortion is a constitutional one, protected not only by the right to privacy, but by the freedom to exercise religion.
"There's a lot of folks who are pro-choice or support reproductive dignity and freedom because of their faith and not in spite of it," said Rev. Katey Zeh, an ordained Baptist minister and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
As Roe v. Wade is threatened by increasingly restrictive state bills and a Supreme Court stacked against reproductive rights, pro-choice Jews, Muslims, and Christians may soon be forced to come to the legal defense of abortion in a way its never been argued before: as a religious right.
Further down in the piece, the reader is then confronted with three different sections discussing "abortion as a religious right" in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, featuring input from two rabbis, an assistant professor of gender and Islamic bioethics at Dartmouth College, and Zeh, as well as a single line from a book titled "Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice."
"As a follower of Christianity, as a minister of Christianity," Zeh told the outlet in the section about Christianity, "to me the core message is really about, first of all, love and compassion and care for the neighbor but also really eliminating systems of oppression no matter what kind they are."
But that's not all. Following its run-through of interfaith pro-abortion apologetics, the story then turned its attention to pro-life political views held by more conservative believers, casting the prevalence of such positions largely as a product of late 20th-century political wrangling.
"[A] political — not theological — effort was made by Republicans, specifically Richard Nixon, to recruit Catholic Democratic voters by polarizing the issue of abortion," the story says. "Evangelicals and Protestants later followed as a result of targeted political campaigns hoping to unite Christians under conservative cultural issues."
Whether or not a religion-based pro-abortion argument would actually hold water in federal court is hard to say, given the number of variables. But given the kind of response to be expected from the pro-abortion world if Roe v. Wade is ever reversed, and the never-ending stream of lawsuits against state-level pro-life laws, it's hard to imagine that it won't be attempted.