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This chapter provides an analysis of the alliances established between feminist movements, faith-based organisations, female pastors, and activists from Protestant and Pentecostal faith communities in Latin America and the Caribbean in favour of the decriminalisation and legalisation of abortion. It focuses on the period between 2018 and 2020, a phase that commenced with a public debate in the National Congress of Argentina and culminated when Law No. 27,610, Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Law, was passed in Argentina on 30 December 2020. The chapter reflects on the influence the passing of this law has had in countries like Chile, Colombia and Ecuador.

The success of feminist Christian grassroots movements, working alongside other feminisms, highlights the strength that Latin American feminist theology has acquired by making arguments in the face of the conservative reaction in the region. The premises of female theologians and feminist Bible scholars were shared on social networks, at conferences and in public debates. This chapter investigates the academic training of women in the area of theology in Latin America, its intersection with the field of feminist theology and its contribution to Latin American feminisms on the issue of abortion.

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This chapter situates the positioning of abortion in Malaysia, a Muslim majority country, within a broader examination of women’s rights and health status in the country. Evidence is examined as to the accessibility of sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion, and to related matters such as comprehensive sexuality education. In tracing the impact of colonial laws and the Islamic revivalism in the 1980s, the authors observe that, while the legal framework provides for abortion services, conservative interpretations of religious texts impede women the right to self-determination on the matter of pregnancy and abortion. The chapter examines the work by organisations such as Sisters in Islam and other non-governmental organisations in raising awareness and advocate on sexual reproductive health and rights issues in a highly regulated moral and religious-conscious society.

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The concluding chapter reflects on the research evidence, scholarly analysis, case studies, and reflections on praxis, presented by academics, theologians and practitioners in the edited volume. Applying the theoretical lenses of reproductive justice and lived religion, the editors propose three thematic areas that will be useful for the development of further scholarship and praxis. These are critical engagement with theology and doctrine; mapping faith values and challenges; and modelling effective interventions. The chapter expresses hope that the work contained within this volume will have a depolarising effect on abortion discourse and serve to mitigate the impact of abortion stigma, particularly on those within faith communities.

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In this chapter participants from the faith leaders’ engagement project, introduced in Chapter 11, explain in their own words what motivated them to become involved in the project and the impact it had on them. In so doing the chapter presents the nuanced, complex dynamics that shaped participants’ lives and brought them to the point of stepping into the unknown to engage with abortion from a faith perspective. From experiences as queer people of faith to the growing pressure as a clergy member to pick a side in the abortion debate, these reflections provide insight into the context within which people of faith in a conservative society formulate views on abortion.

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This chapter provides a critical overview of the terrain of contemporary issues on abortion and faith globally. The chapters construct a schema of international perspectives to set the context for the chapters that follow, providing an introduction to the synthesising of wide-ranging research from the contributing authors. The Introduction explains that treatment of the religious material in the book is that of lived religion, applied in social science literature to analyse the complex and nuanced abortion experiences and views of religious people that do not reflect the official religious position. The discussion of abortion policy, access and discourse is approached through the theoretical lens of reproductive justice, a framework for scholarship and practice developed by Black women in the US (Ross, 2017).

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How people of faith consider the issue of abortion from a prochoice perspective is largely unexplored in academic literature. This chapter offers insight into the positioning of abortion by people of faith in Northern Ireland. We examine the degree to which the embodied nature of becoming and being human, and a sense of God as love or compassion, contribute to study participants’ understandings of ‘the ground’ of the self and the modes of self-assertion these enable.

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The impact on public debate of faith-affirming perspectives on abortion is limited, with trust in faith actors low. Visualising the journeys that faith communities have taken on this issue is thus a crucial contribution to shining a light on much-needed work, counteracting the domineering anti-abortion perspectives. One faith community that has taken a more affirming position on abortion is the Church of Sweden. In 2005 the institution published practical guidelines entitled, When life does not turn out as imagined, on how the institution and its actors could handle and relate to abortion in the context of everyday life in ministry or pastoral care. Situating the analysis within a lived religion framework, this chapter focuses on exploring these guidelines, to examine what elements can be defined as a practice leaning towards a justice-oriented, feminist practice, and whether they have potential to reduce stigma. The chapter further explores what, within the guidelines, can be seen as reflecting parts of the framework of reproductive justice and provides critical analysis on the implementation and impact of the publication.

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Despite Malawi’s commitment to providing access to safe abortion, as evidenced by its signing and ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, the path to reform abortion law in this southern African nation is long and complex. This chapter examines how strong resistance from the anti-choice movement led by the Catholic and Evangelical churches sought to derail the reform process. Amid this resistance, conversations on the intersection of religion and sexual and reproductive health provided an opportunity for creating allies among the religious leaders who were non-traditional sexual and reproductive health and rights allies. This chapter explores how, besides citing human rights and public health justifications, the use of scriptures by religious allies provided support for the enactment of liberal laws on abortion. The author concludes that the voice of religious leaders in support of abortion law reform in a society where indoctrination is the methodology for teaching the word of God has proven to be a powerful catalyst for change.

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Drawing on the South African context specifically and the international context more broadly, this chapter focuses on religiously informed social norms that contribute towards abortion stigma. It explores how Christian beliefs around motherhood, procreation, sex, women and family intersect to situate abortion as a sin, and where religion and culture can entangle to create an aura of morality around refusing abortion. It advocates for the need for those within these faith traditions to critique, engage and disrupt the underlying beliefs behind these norms. The author draws on two main sources for this: first, her professional work as a researcher engaging faith actors to end violence against women and girls; and second, her personal experiences as a Christian believer, qualified theologian, lay faith leader and married woman who has chosen to remain childless. This forms part of a feminist methodology committed to the integration of personal experiences and political engagement. Key theological myths around motherhood are examined with the aim of allowing new theological imaginaries around abortion to flourish within communities of faith as part of a wider commitment to reproductive justice.

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The US has a long history of faith-based advocacy for reproductive rights. From the activities of the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion in the years before Roe v Wade, the campaigning and lobbying of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, or the involvement of Black faith leaders in the Reproductive Justice movement. This chapter takes the form of an in-depth interview in which Rabbi Ruttenberg discusses her experiences mobilising the Jewish community to activate around abortion justice, the basis of her personal commitment to the issue and her articulation of abortion justice from within a religious framing.

The chapter explores the legacy of Jewish clergy participation in abortion advocacy in the US, the National Council of Jewish Women’s work in this area, and the challenges they face in a Christian-dominated political and religious landscape. As years of rollback in reproductive healthcare come to a head with the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade, Rabbi Ruttenberg discusses the response from faith communities. She reflects on the opportunities that exist for Jewish congregations to impact the public discourse on abortion and her hopes and fears for the future of reproductive health, rights and justice in the US.

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