Every two weeks, a group of 20 people board a flight in Dallas, Texas, escorted by a member of the clergy, and head to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to a reproductive clinic. They spend up to 13 hours a day there receiving reproductive care, and most receive surgical abortions. At the end of the day, they all fly home together.
The people on the trips qualify by being below a certain income level. Some have never been on an airplane before. Most have jobs. Some are college students. Almost all have children.
“The resources they have to get access to what I consider a fundamental right, to terminate a pregnancy and control their bodies, is limited by their position in society, which is why this whole thing is a war on the poor,” Daniel Kanter, the senior minister and CEO of the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, told Insider.
The group organizing and fundraising for the trips includes Christian ministers and Jewish rabbis, united in the common goal of getting people the care they need.
As it appears Roe v. Wade is about to be overturned by the Supreme Court, more and more faith leaders across the country are organizing and working on getting people the reproductive health care they need.
The Clergy Consultation Service was founded in 1967, six years before Roe, at a time when many states banned abortions. Rev. Finley Schaef, a Methodist minister in Manhattan, co-founded the group after a mother sought his help in obtaining an abortion for her teenage daughter.
At that time, Christian and Jewish traditions supported abortion rights, and knew that people should not be dying from unsafe abortions.
The CCS has grown across 38 states and includes more than 1,000 clergy members.
Katey Zeh, a reverend and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, said these groups are continuing the work on reproductive rights that religious leaders have been doing for decades. She acknowledged the perception that people of faith, particularly Christians, are widely opposed to abortion, but said it’s inaccurate.
“It’s just that there’s a very vocal group of what we call white Christian nationalists that have made this the central issue of their political platform and they have used and weaponized Christianity, in particular, to make it seem like this is just an obvious thing, that if you are a Christian then you must be anti-abortion,” Zeh said.