Years ago I attended a panel on the ethics of abortion. One of the panelists, a Roman Catholic nun, said, “I don’t know how I feel about abortion. But I do know that if one woman can get an abortion, all women should be able to get abortions.”

By this she meant that neither money nor geography should be obstacles to equality of access to abortion. That has been a touchstone of my decades of advocacy for women’s reproductive justice. I am an Episcopal priest and a trustee for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, as well as a volunteer chaplain in Planned Parenthood’s Portland health center.

As a priest, I have dedicated my life to creating and sustaining communities: communities of faith, communities of family, communities of friends and loved ones. Throughout my ministerial life I have often been asked to witness to the large number of people of faith who support women’s rights to reproductive justice and health, including safe and legal abortion.

Choosing to have an abortion is not an easy or happy decision, but it is sometimes the right, even the moral, decision. Adding further burdens, like denying health care coverage, is punitive, unkind and unnecessary.

Right now, someone who must seek a medically necessary abortion to preserve their health has no protections in Maine law. Private insurance companies can deny a woman coverage of abortion if her life is endangered or she is pregnant from a sexual assault. Insurance companies can deny coverage even if an abortion is the recommendation of your physician and necessary to preserve your health.

However we feel about abortion, we don’t want a law that stops people who need an abortion from getting one by actually preventing them from using their health care coverage. Yet that is what is happening.


The Maine Legislature is considering a proposal to address this injustice. L.D. 820 will require insurance companies that cover prenatal care to also cover abortion. Consistent with current Maine law, the bill was drafted to include exemptions for religious employers.

We all have different faith traditions and feelings about abortion. Viewed through the lens of my faith, L.D. 820 speaks to foundational principles of our country: equality, justice and freedom. If one woman can get an abortion, all women should be able to get abortions. If one woman deserves quality prenatal care, then all women deserve such care. If one woman deserves respect, support and compassion when making personal decisions about when and if to bear children, then all women deserve such concern.

All three of our Abrahamic traditions answer to the call of the prophet Amos, who calls us “to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.” As an Episcopal priest, I have felt called for four decades to be an advocate for women’s reproductive health and justice.

For me as a religious leader, equal access for all women to adequate prenatal care, including abortion, is an article of faith. And for me as a proud native of Maine and citizen of our country, it represents no less than an expansion of our democracy.

I respectfully urge legislators to vote to pass L.D. 820.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.