Letter: What religious freedom on abortion actually means

Posted 5/26/22

To the editor:

Our legislators must pass H7442/S2549, the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act, out of committee in the name of religious freedom.In listening to the testimonies provided to the House …

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Letter: What religious freedom on abortion actually means

Posted

To the editor:

Our legislators must pass H7442/S2549, the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act, out of committee in the name of religious freedom.

In listening to the testimonies provided to the House Finance Committee about H7442, I noticed a stark difference. Many people were testifying about their personal moral beliefs, referencing concepts such as “God” or “evil.” And many were testifying (with data) about the known hardships and life-long costs that blocking access to abortion has, especially for those already economically vulnerable. There is a core difference between these two types of testimony.

Some Rhode Islanders are voicing their opposition to increased access to abortion because they don’t want their taxpayer dollars going towards something they are morally opposed to. This argument is a misrepresentation of our right to religious freedom.

Abortion bans such as those considered in H7442 impose one religious viewpoint on everyone. Yet, different religious and moral belief systems have different views on abortion. Religious freedom demands access to safe abortion care so people can make their own decisions according to their own principles. This access cannot be a pretend right, as it is now for Medicaid recipients and state employees.

The religious freedom that is guaranteed to all of us is not a sword for me to attack someone who is doing something that goes against my personal beliefs. Our right to religious freedom is a shield to protect me (and you) from others dictating how we follow our own values. We must not legislate based on the spiritual beliefs of some of our members.

As an additional analogy, I am (as a pacifist) morally opposed to my tax dollars funding military spending. However, I don’t get a line-item veto to prevent this and I accept that.

I urge our lawmakers to stop hiding behind this twisted view of religious freedom. Someone’s moral objection to someone else’s decision does not override the protection that religious freedom provides all of us to follow the dictates of our own conscience. Pass these bills out of committee and let our elected leaders debate and vote on the floor.

Bethany Sorrentino
Hunt Avenue
Wakefield

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.