How Did We Get Here? On Abortion, the Fetus, and Religion

In this week’s episode, we stand on the steps of the Supreme Court as the justices inside consider Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a major challenge to Roe v. Wade, and ask, “How did we get here?” Then we explore the evolution of the role of religion in the abortion debate with Pultizer Prize-winning author David Garrow and attorney Elizabeth Cavell, who wrote an amicus brief in support of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi. Finally, we talk about Catholics who support abortion access with Jamie Manson, the new head of Catholic for Choice.

How Did We Get Here?
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Garrow traces the evolution of today’s battles over when a fetus becomes a person with rights. From 1965 when a single Connecticut clinic offered contraception and was shut down to the current abortion access challenges in Texas and Mississippi. Along the way, the focus has moved from privacy to women’s sexuality to an almost total focus on the fetus. And he underscores the role religion played in each of these developments.

Where Are We Going?
Historian David Garrow and Liz Cavell, an attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, parse the possible outcomes of the recent arguments abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizations. Both emphasize the explicit religious roots of many of the challenges to Roe v. Wade is often ignored in the legal analysis.

Do American Catholics Really Oppose Abortion?
Jamie Manson, the new leader of Catholics for Choice, outlines the ways Catholic attitudes towards abortion access have changed and her group’s strategy for destigmatizing the issue for Catholics who may not be comfortable with the progressive side of the church. Manson, who is a lesbian married to another woman, also discusses the impact of her hiring at Catholics for Choice as it tries to reach more people in a church that condemns both homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

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