June Partner Highlight: RCRC

Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

This summer we will be featuring a number of our partner organizations working in the reproductive health, rights, and justice movement. The first organization in our partnership series is the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC).

Brief History of RCRC

RCRC has its roots in the Clergy Consultation Service, which was a network of mostly Protestant ministers and Jewish rabbis that helped connect women with affordable, compassionate abortion services in the years prior to the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade when the procedure was illegal. In 1973 members of these clergy networks formed a coalition, then called the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights (RCAR), to ensure that access to abortion remained available to all women who needed it.

Mission

Today the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (renamed in 1994) is “a broad-based, national, interfaith movement that brings the moral force of religion to protect and advance reproductive health, choice, rights and justice through education, prophetic witness, pastoral presence and advocacy.” RCRC’s programmatic work includes engaging scholars in creating new theological frameworks, organizing and mobilizing in southern states, and training faith leaders to provide pastoral care to those struggling with complex reproductive decisions.

Connection with Faith in Women

In 2015, Faith in Women members participated in the RCRC’s Pastoral Care Training for Reproductive Decision-Making and Loss, a valuable opportunity for helping faith leaders and spiritual caregivers understand the complexities of reproduction and everything that encompasses. RCRC staff spent a full day with half a dozen Mississippi clergywomen and clergymen from small towns and larger cities across the state, on how to serve as a compassionate presence for the women and families in their communities as they discern their reproductive destinies and grieve reproductive losses of all kinds.

The experience was a rare safe space to explore difficult topics like infertility, stillbirth, unplanned or traumatic pregnancy, abortion, and adoption from a religious framework that offers compassion, love, and judgment-free support for women. By the end of the training, the pastors reported feeling stronger and more comfortable in their roles as caregivers for women making reproductive decisions. Faith in Women continues to be an ally of RCRC as we work together to increase the participation of people of faith in the movement for reproductive health, rights, and justice.

Photo Credit: Helen Parshall

Opportunities to Connect

Next month RCRC will be launching a web-based series called “Sacred Crossroads” hosted by Rev. Dr. Cari Jackson and Rev. Aaron Payson. These 30-minute videos will feature thoughtful and accessible conversations with clergy, practitioners, and scholars on a range of reproductive health, rights, and justice issues. The series will kick off with discussions around grief and reproductive loss. To be notified when the series launches, please follow RCRC on Facebook and Twitter (@rcrchoice). You can also sign up for their newsletter at rcrc.org.