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Abortion Decisions Should be Led by God-Given Free Will

Commentary originally published in the Orlando Sentinel on April 5, 2023

Rev. Terri Steed Pierce is the lead pastor of Joy Metropolitan Community Church — a church created for and by the LGBTQ+ community.

As we mark one of the most sacred weeks for Christians, Holy Week, I cannot help but think about what it means to walk by faith and into our purpose. Easter means so much to me because it represents the sacrifices Jesus made for all of us so that when we face complex decisions, we are able to seek his guidance and know that he loves us and wants what’s best for us.

We are facing a six-week abortion ban here in Florida and to be blunt, not only is it unacceptable, but it is also not of God. I am not alone in this belief, as most people of faith believe that abortion access should be legal in all or most cases. How can politicians say they’re making these laws on our behalf if they don’t even reflect what we believe, support or desire?

Faith and morality are personal matters and we should all have the ability to decide what we believe in and why. Just like we should have the ability to make the right decisions for ourselves, our bodies and our communities. God gave us free will, so how did elected officials become the moral authority over how we live our lives; especially those who aren’t living up to the same standards they demand of us?

I believe in comprehensive reproductive rights, including access to abortion. I believe abortion access should be free from social, political and religious shame and stigma. We often hear faith weaponized to legislate harm for those who seek abortion care. This is wrong. In times of complex decisions, I turn to God for guidance. I am able to weigh my options and take all factors into consideration, and I trust that when you are faced with making decisions about your life that you also look at the big picture. Politicians who make harmful decisions and laws will never be in a position to know what we need for our lives better than we do.

Too often, laws are made not based on what constituents need and deserve, but are based on what’s politically beneficial. There is absolutely no morality in that. It is imperative that legislators, politicians and judges do not support policies and legislation that disrupt our ability to discern with God if, when and under what circumstances we will have and raise children. We have allowed lawmakers to exploit faith in order to restrict and ban abortion access, to dominate the conversation, set the public narrative on faith and abortion, and cause harm to our communities.

God is love and love brings choice. Love does not coerce, decide for or demand. Love empowers us to make our own choices. Lawmakers say they’re removing our ability to make choices for ourselves because of their belief in God, but even God gives us the freedom to decide. How can faith be the excuse used to strip us of the agency that our Creator has given to all of us?

Instead of using faith as an excuse to pass draconian laws, the people who represent us should be supporting quality and affordable health care and child care, equitable economic opportunity, safe and sustainable neighborhoods, paid leave, an equitable justice system, and policies that allow those who have been historically marginalized, discriminated against and excluded from public life to show as their full selves.

Rev. Terri Steed Pierce is the lead pastor of Joy Metropolitan Community Church — a church created for and by the LGBTQ+ community.

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