Actress Amy Brenneman on Abortion Rights: ‘The Word Christian Has been Stolen by the Right’
Brenneman says her church is "prayerfully pro-choice" and believes in giving full “moral agency.”
Leftovers star Amy Brenneman had an abortion, wholeheartedly supports abortion rights, and, oh, by the way, is a Christian.
In a deeply revealing and insightful appearance in a new video for the Lives of Women video series which the Ted Cruzes and Mike Pences of the world would all benefit greatly from giving a watch, Brenneman opened up about why her faith and pro-woman values aren’t mutually exclusive. She also talked about her belief that the religious right has hijacked the word “Christian” and is doing everyone a disservice with its narrow definition.
“I absolutely think the word ‘Christian’ has been stolen in 2017 in America by the Christian right,” Brenneman said.
Brenneman, who participated in the 2006 Gloria Steinem-led “We Had Abortions” petition by Ms. Magazine meant to fight stigma around the procedure, and 2015 HuffPost Live video where she argued against the “demonization” of abortion and Planned Parenthood, Brenneman calls the church she attends “prayerfully pro-choice.”
According to Brenneman, her church believes in giving full “moral agency” to women. Her church honors the sanctity of life by supporting women having bodily autonomy, and Brenneman finds it “empowering, and ultimately freeing” to be a part of it while “[living] alongside this hatred [from the anti-abortion community].”
“I don’t feel like I’m in conflict with where I go every Sunday,” she adds in the video.
It’s not the first time influential, Christian-identifying individuals have come forward to passionately defend abortion rights from attacks by Christian, right-wing politicians. Many have also come in defense of Planned Parenthood, a women’s health organization oft maligned by the Christian right despite providing access to the very contraception and education that often prevent the need for abortions.
In 2015, a Catholic nun went so far as to chastise right-wing, anti-abortion politicians for hiding behind the “pro-life” label in according fetuses with more respect than living women, all while fighting to take away healthcare, welfare and food stamps from poor children, and send men off to war.
“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”
And just earlier this year, Dr. Willie Parker, one of few abortion providers in the deep south, offered his reasons for wholeheartedly supporting abortion rights as a Christian, citing his origins in poverty and struggle. “Nobody wants a heart transplant, and yet at the same time, I’m not framing abortion as a failure or evil, right?” Parker said.
The past few years have seen an unsettling influx of restrictions on abortion, and just about all of these restrictions have been introduced and justified by “pro-life” Christian politicians who either feign concern at women’s safety (this, despite objective research that abortion is among the safer medical procedures out there) or argue that abortion is an affront on Christian values, the values America is historically rooted in.
Perhaps that’s why the testimonies of Christians who support abortion rights have a sort of added power to them. They show that the morals and compassion that their faith has always sought to be a champion for can be inclusive of giving women rights over their bodies, of giving women the same trust and decision-making power we give to men. And perhaps that’s where true dialogue and progress can really begin.
Brenneman has previously opened up about having had an abortion years ago, and, true to research that the vast, vast majority of women who have abortions don’t regret their decision, says that she has “never, not for one moment, regretted [hers].”
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.