‘God Loves Women Who Have Abortions’: The Religious Abortion Advocates That History Forgot
PHOTO CREDIT: NYT
The year was 1967, and too many women were dying.
The New York legislature had just failed to pass an incremental reform to the state’s strict anti-abortion law, leaving the status quo in place. At that time, deaths resulting from illegal abortions accounted for 42 percent of New York City’s maternal mortality rate. While wealthy women could use their “connections” to have illegal yet safe abortions performed in hospitals, less privileged women didn’t have that option. According to a survey of low-income women who had abortions in the 1960s, eight in ten said that they had attempted a self-induced procedure, and only two percent said that a trained physician was involved in any way.
Rev. Howard Moody, the minister of the historic Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan, couldn’t stand by and watch any longer. He started gathering with a group of faith leaders to talk about how they might help women get connected with the illicit “abortionists” who could perform a safe procedure. Those pastors and rabbis formed what came to be known as the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion.