Author Tells Story of Clergy Who Supported Reproductive Rights at Preterm Community Night

Mon 8/14 @ 6-8PM

The attacks on women’s reproductive freedom that we’ve seen ramped up in Ohio in the last five or six years didn’t come out of the blue, nor did the fight to protect and expand women’s rights and their agency over their own lives. But some things have changed over the years, such as the conflation of religion and anti-choice zealotry.

The new book, To Offer Compassion: A History of the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, by Doris Andrea Dirks and Patricia A. Relf, explores how, in the pre-Roe v. Wade days of the late 60s and 70s, a network of rabbis and ministers came together to help women exercise reproductive choice.

“By 1973, when the Roe v. Wade court decision made abortion legal nationwide,” writes their publisher, the University of Wisconsin Press, “the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion (CCS) had spread from coast to coast, referred hundreds of thousands of women for safe abortions without a single fatality, become a medical consumer advocacy group, and opened its own clinic in New York City. As religious leaders spoke out on issues of civil rights, peace or poverty, CCS members were also called to action by the suffering of women who had approached them for help. Overwhelmingly male, white, affluent and middle-aged, these mainline Protestant and Jewish clergy were nonetheless outspoken advocates for the rights of women, particularly poor women.”

It’s a history that needs to be told in light of the sanctimonious mewlings about “protecting unborn babies” coming from the evangelical right.

Relf will be coming to Cleveland, where she’ll speak at women’s health clinic Preterm’s monthly community outreach evening. The event is free and open to all; the book will be available for purchase courtesy of Loganberry Books.

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