Center for American Progress

Justice Is Essential in the Fight for Reproductive Rights

Justice Is Essential in the Fight for Reproductive Rights

Rev. Matthew Westfox writes about why justice is so important in the fight for women's reproductive rights—and why justice cannot exist without compassion.

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Today marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that guaranteed women the legal right to have an abortion. Yet the 40 years since have not been easy, and the ruling by no means ended the fight between pro-choice and anti-choice advocates. As a person of faith and a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, I’ve had the opportunity and the blessing of being a pastoral presence for women and families considering, or who have already had, abortions.

I often think of a woman named Sarah, who came to me searching for understanding and justice after deciding to have an abortion. As we prayed together, Sarah spoke words that I’d heard from so many other women—prayers of thanksgiving for delivering her through a difficult time, prayers of grief that this had to happen. More than anything, as she told me later over coffee, Sarah prayed that God would help others understand what she knew God already did: that she had this abortion out of love. Love for the children she was already trying to raise and love for the potential child who she knew she could not parent.

I carry every woman’s story with me, but Sarah’s struck me particularly hard because she articulated so clearly what I often heard in those discussions. Her abortion was an act of compassion, and she had come to me hoping to find a little of that compassion mirrored back to her.

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