(July 2018) Religious Refusals and Reproductive Rights: Claims of Conscience as Discrimination and Shaming

By Louise Melling

Chapter 14 – Religious Refusals and Reproductive Rights, from Part IV – Conscience, Accommodation and Its Harms. Edited by Susanna Mancini, Università di Bologna, Michel Rosenfeld. Publisher: Cambridge University Press

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316780053.015

Relevant excerpt:

The stories from Indiana and Arizona illustrate the different way in which we currently view refusals to serve LGBT people for reasons of religious beliefs versus refusals to serve women seeking reproductive health services because of religious beliefs. This chapter takes issue with this difference. It argues we need to see, question, and protest the harms that result when women seeking services related to contraception and abortion are turned away for reasons of faith as robustly as we question the harms when LGBT people are refused service because of religious beliefs.14 It asks that we see these refusals as discrimination too.

In making this call for change, this chapter first puts the current debate in the United States about religious refusals in context; second, it posits parallels between the harm to women turned away for wanting to control their fertility and to same-sex couples denied services for their weddings; third, this chapter offers an account for why refusals to provide services because of religious beliefs are treated differently in the two contexts; and finally, it argues that how we think about religious objections to serving those seeking abortion and contraception matters for women’s equality. This chapter does not purport to put forward a definitive argument; it aims instead to make a case for questioning a long-standing norm.