The headline above a column published over the weekend in the Washington Post declared “I don’t want your god in charge of my health care.”

Writer Kate Cohen, in the September 26 column, describes a scenario where a patient is considering tubal ligation after a planned Caesarean section because she doesn’t want to get pregnant again.

Factors that may affect the patient’s decision are “her vision of her reproductive future, her doctor’s advice, state regulations, the recommendations of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,” wrote Cohen.

Factors that most patients don’t consider are “God’s purposes,” “God’s will,” or “the truth that life is a precious gift from God.”

This week, an influential religious body here in North Carolina affirmed a resolution in support of the right to an abortion that its members first adopted more than 50 years ago.

Three years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that struck down several Texas laws that criminalized abortion, the North Carolina Council of Churches (NCCC) in 1970 issued a resolution during its annual assembly that urged “faith communities, faith leaders, physicians, and hospitals to support the right of a woman to end a ‘problem pregnancy’ by ‘therapeutic abortion,’” according to a Tuesday press release.

In late June, Roe v. Wade was overturned by a much more conservative U.S. Supreme Court, whose members include at least three followers of the Catholic faith.

Cohen did not mention the religious makeup of the nation’s highest court, but the columnist did point to a 2020 report by a nonprofit health advocacy group that found four of the 10 largest health systems in the United States were Catholic and that number is likely to grow. 

NCCC officials stated in the release that the religious body reaffirms its commitment made 52 years ago and “strongly declares that reproductive choice is a healthcare decision that women should make in conversation with their trusted friends, family, and medical providers without embarrassment, excessive cost, and unwarranted delay.” 

The Council, according to the release,  “stands by those words today.”

“It’s been over 50 years since the Council needed to speak about reproductive health, a testimony that, while imperfect, our nation did have guardrails protecting a woman’s ability to make her own health care choices,” Rev. Dr. Jennifer Copeland, NCCC’s executive director, stated in the release. “As those guardrails begin to weaken in some places, we feel we must speak again to affirm the decision making agency of women.”

Meanwhile, Rev. Isaac Villegas, the NCCC’s governing board president stated in the release that “women are in the best position, with the wisdom available in their communities, to discern what’s necessary for their well-being and their families.”

The laws of our society, Villegas added,  “should not infringe upon the dignity of pregnant women in their healthcare decision making.”

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