The Surprising Intersection of Faith and Abortion (with Jamie Manson and Jeanné Lewis)
One in four people who’ve had an abortion identify as Catholic. That surprised Gloria, as most Catholic leaders are ardently against the procedure. In this episode, Gloria talks with Jamie Manson, the president of Catholics for Choice, and Jeanné Lewis, interim CEO at Faith in Public Life Action, about how abortion rights are viewed across different faiths. They also talk about what the recent midterm election revealed about abortion access, and how, with the right kind of conversation, you might be able to change someone’s mind. Even if they’re a nun.
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Gloria Riviera, Jeanne Lewis, Speaker 4, Jamie Manson
Gloria Riviera 00:08
Good morning, guys. Good evening. Good afternoon, good middle of the night, whenever you’re listening to this welcome. So recently, I have been thinking about faith, what it means to me what it means to others, how I can hold on to it, how I can integrate my definition of faith more consistently into my life. For me in this enduring and seemingly never ending fall season, faith is being okay with just not knowing. We all want to know, right? What’s going to happen with childcare, with abortion access, with all the things that feel like they are out of our control? I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. One time many, many years ago, and this has stayed with me. I remember sitting with my best friend in a park repeating over and over to her. I just want it to be 6 months from now. I just want it to be 6 months from now. Yeah, that’s been with me for a long time I go back to it. And I have felt that a lot over the years. I feel it right now. Its meaning has changed. What I think I met in part, even then was that I wanted to be through the pain I was in at that moment. I wanted to be on the other side. You may feel like that right now. My guess is you probably do. My hope is it brings you comfort to know that you are not alone. Whatever it is that you want to get to the other side of here’s the thing, there is only one way through people and it is messy. But we will get there. We always do. This is No One Is Coming to Save Us by Lemonada Media Original, presented by and created with neighborhood villages. I am your host Gloria Riviera. So speaking of faith, oh, Lord, here we go. I have two guests today. Jamie Manson is the president of Catholics for Choice. She was previously a columnist and books editor at the National Catholic Reporter. And she is joined by Jeanne Lewis, the interim CEO at faith in public life action. She is a nonprofit executive faith based organizer and authority on creating empowered communities. I love conversations that reveal new concepts to me. This is one of them for sure. We talk about pro-choice Catholics and Christians. Jamie is a queer pro-choice, devout Catholic, wait until you hear her tell you about walking into a room full of nuns, to talk about choice, or go to a Catholic school and speak to students. Jamie told me that one in four women who have had an abortion identify as Catholic. And she’s super cool. Somehow, we always managed to find the super cool, super smart folks. And Jeanne she is right there with us offering an even wider, very calm, informed perspective on faith based mindset evolution of how to get through to the people you would never even approach because you know, they don’t agree with you. But here’s the thing, how are we going to get to that other side if we don’t engage? If we don’t at least try? These two women will tell you we won’t. So we have to try. We must try it will be messy. But six months from now, we will be in a very different place in important ways. Okay, that is enough for me. Here now are Jamie and Jeanne. And
Gloria Riviera 03:53
Jamie, Jeanne. It is so good to see both. Thank you so much for joining us. Let’s just start with where we are. The midterm elections just happen. Jamie, I want to start with you. What did they show us?
Jamie Manson 04:05
They showed us that abortion and equality are very popular. And that was a very compelling thing to watch. I think what we saw was a ballot questions cannot be gerrymandered. And so we saw the actual democratic process happening on Tuesday. And we saw that this is a pro-choice values are fundamental American values, and they’re very much the values of the majority of people of faith.
Gloria Riviera 04:36
Right. And we’re all nodding our heads here as we can see each other during this conversation and Jeanne you’re nodding, you know very forcefully, I want to ask you to what extent were you on the edge of your seat? You know, watching these results come in and at what point did you think? Did you breathe a sigh of relief?
Jeanne Lewis 04:56
Well, it wasn’t clear. Not so much what people believe But whether or not people would turn out, and whether or not when they did turn out their voting rights will be protected or not. Right. So, for me, I was more on the edge of my seat because I was not sure that our democratic process would hold. And I was very happy to see that it did. But I wasn’t surprised that people turned out in record numbers to say that they don’t think that abortion should be criminalized and that it should be illegal. That’s not surprising to me at all.
Gloria Riviera 05:30
Good. That’s the good news. I mean, I have felt since Roe v. Wade was overturned, I have learned an enormous amount about the topic. But I have felt recently, even with what happened in Kansas, there has been a quieting. And so I was very encouraged to see so many people coming out. Janette, I’m gonna come back to you because you have written that reproductive justice, not just reproductive choice is what God desires for all of us. Talk to me about the difference between those two phrases, reproductive justice versus reproductive choice.
Jeanne Lewis 06:05
Reproductive justice is holistic. It looks at what people need to have a healthy life from beginning to end. So that’s everything from what care what health care we need, during a pregnancy, what options we need to have healthy reproductive health care, and what education access we need, what types of childcare we need, what does it mean to have safe communities free from violence? What does it mean to end systemic racism? What does it mean to have healthy economic equity opportunities? So reproductive justice is a holistic framework. And when we look at our scriptures and our values across faith traditions, it is very clear that we are supposed to love one another. We are supposed to respect the dignity of every single being on the planet. And we’re supposed to work together for the common good to make sure that someone’s life from start to finish can be healthy and safe and whole and reproductive justice does that. Reproductive choice is a part of that. Because certainly how we enter this world has a big impact on how the rest of our life goes. But reproductive justice is looking at all of those issues from beginning to end.
Gloria Riviera 07:12
I like that the idea of a holistic approach. And you know, Jeanne also mentions scripture, right? And that’s where, like I am coming with an open mind. But can we talk about scripture and choice and where the Bible supports someone who is pro-choice and Catholic?
Jamie Manson 07:36
Yes, there is nothing about abortion in the Bible. And I think that comes as a surprise to a lot of people. There is one, there is one mention in the Hebrew scriptures of a story of a woman getting knocked over and losing her pregnancy. But in that case, it’s very clear from that scripture that it is not the fetus, but the woman that is in her life that is of ultimate value. And that’s the basis for the Jewish belief that life begins at first breath. And so that’s, I think, a very important thing. There are 30 mentions of conscience in the New Testament, and it is conscience. That’s one of our guiding principles of Catholics for Choice for making a Catholic case for supporting abortion access.
Gloria Riviera 08:19
And what does that look like? You said in the Jewish Bay, there is an argument that life begins at the first breath that doesn’t exist, or does it exist? Can you walk us through what the argument is to be a Catholic and be pro-choice?
Jamie Manson 08:35
Absolutely. So conscience is a big part of that. That’s a centuries old part of our tradition. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote many treatises on what happens when one’s personal conscience conflicts with law. And he said very clearly, and the Catechism says very clearly that it is the primacy of conscience the individual conscience is the final arbiter in this moral decision making, and to go against your conscience for Thomas Aquinas was to go against your own human dignity because it would be to question your own freedom and rationality, your own gift of reason from God. So that’s a big one. The other one is religious freedom. After the Second Vatican Council, there was a lot of renewed interest in human freedom and in religious pluralism. I like to say very simply good Catholic teaching supports religious pluralism, and the person’s freedom to choose to have a religious faith or not, in this country is founded on religious liberty. And what that means is not only the right to practice your own beliefs, but the right to be free of the beliefs of others. And so this is where the Judaism issue becomes interesting because these bands on restrictions on abortion access are an indirect infringement on the on the religious freedom of Jews, and Muslims and other mainline Protestants who do believe in abortion. Should access as part of their, their tradition. And so that’s a very serious issue. What we’re seeing is some very fringe Catholic ideas being codified into civil law. And that and that infringes on the religious freedom of many American citizens religious and non-religious. And the third one we use is social justice and Catholicism, one of the reasons I call myself Catholic is because of the beauty of our social justice tradition in Catholicism. And, you know, I’m so glad Jeanne did such a beautiful explanation of the reproductive justice framework, because the resonance and the mutual strengths of the reproductive justice framework, which is a gift of black women, and the social justice framework are incredible. And that’s why it breaks my heart to hear Catholics either avoid the topic of abortion altogether, or some of our religious leaders who just call it murder. Because reproductive justice is fighting for the same things that Catholic social justice advocates are and there’s this unwillingness to take a look at abortion intersects with almost every issue of social justice and human freedom, and human dignity. And that’s what we’re pushing, you know, Catholics for Choice to make Catholics see that to, to give them space, to get that information to do that sort of moral discernment that the church the space that the church won’t give them, right.
Gloria Riviera 11:25
I mean, you just said something that resonates with me the right to be free of the belief of others. And for someone who did not grow up with organized religion. I have Catholicism and Mormonism in my background. You know, there have often been times that I’ve been very confused about how to feel I’ve always been politically pro-choice, but I was very educated on reproductive justice after the fall of Roe v. Wade, was it was something I hadn’t spent a lot of time on. And now I’m with Sam pretty familiar with but Janelle, I asked you, because Jamie mentioned, avoiding the topic and Catholics avoiding the topic. And, of course, that made me think of our current President, Joe Biden, who is, you know, a very devout Catholic, and has a complicated history on the topic of abortion. Can you talk us through what you perceive as his evolution on that topic?
Jeanne Lewis 12:23
Yeah, and I have to say, I can resonate with it, because I’m also a cradle Catholic. And I think part of the challenge is that many people of faith struggle to communicate our beliefs about abortion and our faith because of the binary way that is discussed in the in the political arena. And Joe Biden, having served in public office for as long as he has, clearly falls squarely in the middle of that. And so when you add campaigning and votes and the larger political context, I can only imagine the challenges that he’s faced within his own conscience, but also to articulate fully what he thinks and what he believes. The fact is that the majority of people of faith believe that abortion should be legal and at least some circumstances. But even people who believe that wouldn’t necessarily say that they’re pro-choice, because our discourse has become so polarized. There’s a new study called how Americans understand abortion, coming out of the University of Notre Dame by Dr. Tricia Bruce, and her team conducted in depth interviews with everyday people across six states. And that study showed that when people have an opportunity to elaborate on what they really believe about abortion, it seldom fits neatly into a pro-life or prochoice position. And so it can just be very, very hard for people with faith. And I’ve experienced this as well to engage in the public discourse, and still feel like they’re able to authentically communicate the fullness of what we believe.
Gloria Riviera 13:53
Okay, that is striking a chord in me because we got some big nods from Jamie, especially when you said, you know, this, this idea that people struggle to elaborate on how they feel because it doesn’t fall neatly into a pro-life or pro-choice category. So do you see that when you speak Jamie to other Catholics, because I think even the very simple question of so how many Catholics are also pro-choice would be valuable for our listeners. So I guess we could start with that, and then expand a little bit on why that’s so difficult.
Jamie Manson 14:26
Yeah, I nodded very vigorously, because that’s really our sweet spot at Catholics or choice is those folks who don’t feel they fall into either camp of so called pro-life or pro-choice, and are trying to find their way. Because I think it’s really important that we make space for those people. One of my big critiques of the pro-choice movement, the secular pro-choice movement, is it doesn’t it doesn’t allow for moral complexity. It doesn’t allow for, you know, people to find what the value of a fetus is, you know, we have very complicated, you know, experiences life histories with pregnancy with miscarriage with the people giving birth, before full gestation and so that color people’s moral imaginations. And I think that the, you know, the pro-choice movement, unfortunately hasn’t allowed, you know, a conversation about the value of fetal life that I think people want to have a need to have. And so that’s why we really want to widen the circle and become a place where people can ask questions where we don’t want to tell people what to think. But we want to give them information because there is so much misinformation, especially in religious spaces about abortion, there’s so much demystifying that has to happen and that’s, that’s become a big part of our work. 57% of Catholics believe that in the unit in the US think that abortion should be legal and oral in most cases, 68% of Catholics in the US did not want to see Roe vs. Wade struck down in June. And to me the most compelling statistic, one and four abortion patients identifies as Catholic. And so Catholics who have abortions are participating in the life of the church, and they have to listen to priests and bishops call them murderers or accessories to murder. And that is a major pastoral crisis in this church that our leadership does not want to deal with does not want to look at.
Gloria Riviera 16:24
You just said that 1 in 4 abortion patients identify as Catholic. A quarter of all women seeking an abortion would say they are Catholic. That is a stunning data point for me.
Jamie Manson 16:39
Yeah, for me too.
Gloria Riviera 17:03
This is a question for you both. But let’s start with Jaime, do you find commonalities that need to be demystified? People come in, and they ask the same question, and what are those questions?
Jamie Manson 17:14
Yeah, a few of them. I think one thing is, when you look at the rhetoric of the anti-choice movement, what they immediately go to his late term abortion, late term abortion later, that’s all they talk about. And when I turn to people, and I say, you know, only 1% of abortions is performed after 21 weeks in this country, and 88% are performed in the first 12 weeks, the whole room shifts when I tell them that. So that’s a very big, very big point for a lot of people,
Gloria Riviera 17:44
and Janae. What about some of the things that you find yourself, demystifying for people who come to you?
Jeanne Lewis 17:49
I think that people are not clear how aggressive some of the state based laws are. So I think sometimes people think, you know, protecting an unborn child or limiting access to abortion is going to then move people into nonprofit organizations or other assistance or other community support that’s going to help them raise a family. And that is simply not true. So people don’t realize not only the level of penalty that’s involved in some of the proposed legislation at the state level, but also they don’t recognize the systemic injustice and systemic racism that makes it very, very difficult for people to live their lives and raise their families over the course of decades, which is what a family is, it’s an it’s a lifetime commitment. It’s not, you know, a year or two. And people really are unclear about the level of systemic inequity and injustice that many communities in the United States are facing, which can complicate people’s decisions about when and how they start their families.
Gloria Riviera 18:58
Can I ask you another question? Because as you’re both speaking, I’m picturing these very like one on one conversations and the sort of meticulous nature of your work about connecting with people getting through to them, creating a space in which others who don’t hold your view can hear it and digest it and, you know, ideally, change their own view. My question is, how do you summon the strength every day to keep having what must at times be tiresome conversations because not everybody will leave those conversations saying, I see it, I hear it, my mind is changed. So where does your strength come from in maintaining this dialogue?
Jamie Manson 19:44
Sure. It’s because there are there are elements of the Catholic tradition that I absolutely love that gives meaning to my life every day. And I believe in this tradition. I want the best for this tradition. And I want justice. I want justice for women inside of this church. That’s what I fought for all of my life women and Queer people of which I am both. And so it’s worth it. And so it for me getting in the door, makes it all worth it. So I’ve had an opportunity, just in the last four weeks, I spoke with two Catholic universities, and to a large community of Roman Catholic Sisters, that was, like, unheard of, for me to be able to go into those spaces, so you some of the energy, because you know, this is your shot, and you’re not going to miss your shot, you know, and, and it’s worth it, it’s worth it. Because I want you Catholics to I want their minds and hearts transformed around this, for the sake of justice for the sake of justice for women, and trans and non-binary people who can be pregnant. And so that’s it, you know, so I have endless energy, because of the amazing opportunity that is to talk to Catholics about this issue that is truly the third rail, unfortunately, in our community.
Gloria Riviera 20:57
I often am saying thank you, for people who do the work that you do. And I’m going to say that right now, I mean, we need you I’m curious what you felt your reception was in those spaces, right? Like a queer, pro-choice Catholic walking in to talk to other women p[predominantly, I’m assuming, what was the feel of the room? What was that? Like? When did you think, Oh, I think I have them, I think this is resonating.
Jamie Manson 21:22
You know, just by giving them information, really, just by opening up the space to be able to talk about this I spoke to mostly in the colleges, I spoke mostly to young people. One was mostly a women’s college. And so that was mostly women. But the other college which there I say was a Jesuit school was a quite a few men. And there were all in rapt attention. Why? Because they’re young people, the young people that are going to be if they haven’t already been profoundly affected by these issues. You know, they’re sexually active, and they’re in schools that we don’t want to acknowledge that they’re sexual beings. And so I just, I’ve never had that much rapt attention on me. And I gave, I gave a 55 minute lecture. And these, these young people were just so focused, not looking at their phones, not looking at their computers. And that was amazing. And for the older women faculty, you could see like, they were in tears to finally have this moment, after decades at a Catholic school that avoided this, to have someone come in and have this conversation was powerful. The community of nuns was amazing. I mean, they were in a state where there was a ballot initiative. And they didn’t know how to vote.
Gloria Riviera 22:30
Which state is that?
Jamie Manson 22:31
This this event was not even on their grounds. It had to be an erect a public rec center, big for fear that they had this conversation on their own property. That’s how this is and these are very educated women who have served their church for 60 and 70 years at this point.
Gloria Riviera 22:54
And they could not have a discussion about abortion, like, on a church owned piece of property.
Jamie Manson 23:01
Yeah. And their own property. And so they, you know, I gave them all of the information, it was very eye opening for them. And then we spent an hour going through the ballot. And they said, we did not know how to vote, and now we do. And so and that was really powerful. They sang a blessing over me at the end, and oh, my god for me, you know, that was so I’m so rarely welcomed into Catholic spaces. And it’s a church I’ve dedicated every moment of my life to since I was 15 years old, you know, and so to finally be received really broke my heart open really.
Gloria Riviera 23:35
Yeah, I mean, that’s a very beautiful moment, just to imagine that your work is changing the way people understand their political options, how to vote. Setting aside how confusing ballot measures are written in the first place. If you support pro-choice, vote no, right? Shouldn’t I vote? Yes. If I say no, it’s very, very confusing. Jeanne you also have been nodding your head right now. And I want to ask you about religious leaders, because this is where Jamie was she was with women who are leading the church. So how have you seen the ability to change minds? Within the religious community? How have you seen that effort led by religious leaders because you both, you know, you have these one on one conversations, or maybe you’re speaking to a group of people like Jimmy just did, but then you walk away, there’s a lot of work to do, and you leave these communities on their own. I’m an optimistic person. So I’m going to start with the best case scenario. What is the best case scenario for once you leave that room?
Jeanne Lewis 24:37
Well, faith and public life work is focused on faith leaders, and our work is a little different. We are not necessarily speaking to large groups in the way that Jamie is, but we are actually creating opportunities and giving resources to faith leaders to speak to their own communities. So we are training them, we are sharing messages and language that we found resonates. We are supporting reading them and using their own language and messaging, and we’re also supporting them and connecting abortion access to other issues that are important to them and to their faith communities. So one example is in rural Georgia, which is an area where faith and public life does a lot of work. One of our staff ministers Shavon, Williams worked for a very long time with a pastor who was very anti-abortion. But after the dogs decision happened, he was able to understand how criminalization was bad for everyone in the community, particularly the folks that his congregation and the folks that he cared about. So he volunteered to speak out publicly making that statement, after the Dobbs decision came down, which would be unprecedented for him, because a few months ago, he would identify as pro-life and anti-abortion. So many of our faith leaders are speaking out for the first time, we are creating space for placement with the press for op eds. And when they’re able to do that it generates a different level of conversation with the folks who care about them and who listen to them.
Gloria Riviera 26:03
I keep coming back to the fact that the anti-choice movement has been methodically working towards the end of Roe for decades. It’s a very steep hill to climb. So you two are already on that path. What is your advice to others? You know, such as myself? I’m an educated woman, I went to college. Where do we start? What is most helpful?
Jeanne Lewis 26:28
I think continuing to educate ourselves all of us is very, very important, because part of the decades long, methodical efforts to overturn Roe vs. Wade. It’s also about having control of the Supreme Court. So if you’re watching the Supreme Court, there are many other very consequential decisions that will most likely be up for debate or discussion and potentially overturn in the next couple of years. And that’s not accidental. So you started by asking about reproductive justice. I think it’s an excellent question. Because all of these issues are interrelated. I think Jamie said that as well. If we want to make sure that people have true reproductive justice, access to all the health care that they need, we also have to pay attention to systemic racism, you also have to pay attention to economic equity. And it can be overwhelming for one person to say how do I make a dent in all of these issues. But by articulating the complexity of what you think and feel in the public sphere, and not only relying on our social media and unlimited characters, you have a great platform as a reporter to do that, I think continuing to transcend this false binary, to transcend this very limited narrative, to expand it, and let people hear that there are others like them thinking about these issues, it will create a demand in our public sphere, it’ll create a demand for politicians to speak to that, it will create a demand for legislation that’s more carefully crafted. But if we continue to remain silent and hide or feel ashamed, or think that we’re the only ones and don’t use all the tools available to us to articulate what we fully think and believe, there won’t be a demand in the public sphere to have more thoughtful and equitable legislation around these issues.
Gloria Riviera 28:40
I know that you feel it is possible to change people’s minds. My takeaway is that a key element of doing so is providing information and data, I’m still grappling with one in four women who have an abortion identify as Catholic. That’s just as that will stay with me forever. So what is the first step when you approach someone whose views are totally different from your own?
Jeanne Lewis 29:03
So everybody wants to be listened to around abortion or anything else? So asking a lot of questions is really important. I also am clear that not every conversation I have is about changing someone’s mind. Some are, but not every conversation I have is about changing someone’s mind. And in my experience, when people change their own minds, it’s much more powerful than if they believe or feel that I have persuaded them or coerce them or manipulated them into thinking something. I had lunch with someone who identify as pro-life a very prominent pro-life voice. Last week, actually. And in our conversation, she was talking about how she was excited about some of the laws coming down at the state level. Her perspective is that those laws will protect women who are coerced to have abortions. But when I asked her follow up questions, even she started to acknowledge that some of her logic didn’t hold or their values that she holds don’t seem to be in line with the potential con sequences of the laws that she’s currently advocating for. So did I change her mind? Is she no longer pro-life? No, I don’t think that’s the case. But in asking her questions and respecting her and actually deeply listening to her perspective and her values, I was able to share how her perspective was not persuasive to me, which then made her question her own perspective. Again, I will also say, having safe spaces, you know, I will not say the name of this person, I probably never will. But I think it’s very important to allow people to feel safe to be really honest about what they think, because when they are, they start to realize that they have incongruity with their own beliefs and our own conclusions. And they start to wrestle with that in a different way.
Gloria Riviera 30:45
Jamie Manson 30:49
Yeah, my strategy has been to start with progressive Catholics believe it or not, who don’t know how they feel about the issue, you cannot believe I mean, I know women who were lying in the Catholic rotunda for immigration rights a few years ago, I know women who have thrown their own blood on nuclear reactors, in protest of nuclear weapons, who will not touch the issue of abortion will not go there. That’s a community I’m really interested in right now. Because I want it I know that they’re there, their hearts are in the right place. And they have their very social justice minded there, and it’s deeply ingrained in their faith where they come from on these issues. And so to encounter those people is a very, very big part of our strategy, because we know that if we can start to inform them, they wait need, they need to be informed, create those safe spaces that Jeanne was speaking about, so that they can bring their questions in their conversation in a judgment free zone, then we think that there will be a ripple effect, you know, that’s actually our, our strategy is to start there, I think there are people who are so radicalized about this issue, you know, anti-abortion, that they I don’t think we can communicate with them. So I’m interested in speaking to the people we can communicate with.
Gloria Riviera 32:12
What resonates for me is hearing you talk about a judgment free zone in the context of the Catholic Church, right, a judgment free zone in the context of the Catholic Church. So that is what you are providing, which will surprise many people who maybe are not daily practicing Catholics, but grew up Catholic. That would be my husband raised in the Jesuit church, you know, someone who is open to these ideas. And Jaime, what I hear you also saying is that, you know, actually being pro-choice is in keeping with the social justice and social service, if I’m correct in saying social service, but that being pro-choice can coexist with being a Catholic seamlessly. Is that right? Am I saying that correctly?
Jamie Manson 32:55
that is what I believe yes. Because when you look at the way in which abortion bans and restrictions disproportionately cause suffering to people who are already being crucified, by racism, by economic injustice, by gender inequality, by terrible immigration legislation, who live in rural areas who have disabilities, you know, it is, you know, with the very people that we as Catholics are called to prioritize with our exquisite preferential option for the poor are the ones who suffer the most because of this ideological battle over abortion. And that just breaks my heart. And I want people to make that connection. And I want them to see that there is nothing good or moral about forcing someone to give birth, you know, and I want them to focus less shift their focus from the potential life to the actual living, breathing life who is pregnant, you know, and so much rhetoric, anti-choice rhetoric, never ever considers the pregnant woman or the pregnant person. And to return to that that person what her life is, and accepting that this isn’t just about bodily autonomy, it’s about the entire trajectory of a woman’s life. This decision, it affects everything.
Gloria Riviera 34:10
What does success look like to after these midterms? I feel like these midterms were a sign of success. But that’s the last question I’ll ask both of you. And, Jamie, why don’t you take it first?
Jamie Manson 34:20
Sure. I think that there’s a very important history that we teach in, in the sessions that we do with Catholics about the white supremacist, anti-feminist roots of that modern anti-choice movement, that there was a very deliberate shift by the White male that was very threatened by women’s live by the Civil Rights Movement by the LGBTQ liberation movement, that they were losing power. And they had been campaigning on segregation to animate their base, especially southern Democrats is called the Southern strategy. And so there was this shift, a very intentional pivot to using abortion as the animating issue to build a white supremacist Christian nationalist movement in this country. So that’s when you have Republicans, you know, voting against all these other issues that would defend life like gun control and environmental justice and, you know, nutrition programs for children, you know, why are they doing that? Why do they only care about abortion? Well, because abortion was always just a means to an end. It has been used as a political animator for a right white right wing base. And so to make the connection between abortion and the larger agenda to erode, democracy is really important. That’s why one of the key reasons I do this work is that people have been manipulated into thinking these that these politicians were fighting for life, when in fact, they will fighting for White, male Christian dominance in this country and to restore that. And so that, for me has to be the end goal that people make that connection, and that they have they’re not voting strictly on abortion, because when they do, they’re actually contributing to the erosion of democracy.
Gloria Riviera 35:57
I hear you; I hear you. Jeanne?
Jeanne Lewis 36:00
Very similarly, for me, success looks like changing the narrative. Right? So I agree with what Jamie was laying out that history is documented, it’s very available to anyone who wants to read it. And because abortion is viewed as a wedge issue, the narrative has been co-opted, and it’s just been reduced. You’re saying I’m looking forward to still talking point. But it’s a complicated issue. I don’t think there is a distilled talking point, you know, and that’s no, it’s just a fact.
Gloria Riviera 36:32
I’m a reporter that works for network news for my whole career. So I’m like, you get to me in 30 seconds.
Jeanne Lewis 36:39
That’s right. And so for us success looks like the narrative being expanded, and people being able to speak freely about the nuance and the fullness of what they actually believe around this issue. Because to Jamie’s point, when people are freer to communicate in that way, it’ll be much harder to manipulate our democratic processes, and all of our branches of government around one single wedge issue. So for me, that’s what success looks like.
Gloria Riviera 37:06
No, I hear you. And I also think that we have examples in the world where countries have changed their position on abortion, right, that it has become a social safety net, which you know, this podcast, our reason for being is childcare, a social safety net that this country does not provide. So for me in my small but hopefully impactful role as host of this podcast, I want people to think of abortion as a social safety net and a right, it’s what we should be providing, you know, we should be providing it. That got a few head nods. So thank you for educating me in the last hour. It’s very valuable, I will continue to think about this. I hope our listeners to take away you know, take away some data points, and some new ways of thinking about this issue. And thank you both so much for the work that you do. We need you. Keep going. Keep going.
Gloria Riviera 37:07
I know I told you; didn’t I tell you I told you they are both brilliant. Thank God, literally whomever that is for you for Jamie and Jeanne. And their devotion to their work. We need them. Keep going keep opening our eyes. Thank you. Okay, now it is time for my favorite part of every episode. This is when we hear from you, our No One Is Coming to Save Us community. Here is what you had to say this week.
Speaker 4 38:43
Hi, Gloria. It’s Carol […] Marie and it’s Thursday. And this is the day that I get to listen to your podcast and send you a message. Because I am always so moved by the stories that you are telling. I am thinking a lot today about the right to have a family the right to design a family life to reproduce. And I thought about a conversation I had recently with my son who is in his 20s. And he said I really want to have a bunch of kids. I’d like to have three, four or five kids because family life is just it seems like it’s the most meaningful thing. And then we talked about child care and work and career ambitions and how hard it is to juggle that and the expense of education and health care. And I just wondered like, Does my do my children have the right to design a family? Do they have the means? Is it harder than it was for me 20 years ago? You know the stories that you tell? I’m often crying I’m often heartbroken. I feel so validated. And it takes me right back to when I had Two kids in diapers, even though my kids are grown now, this message, the stories you’re telling are so critical. And there is this piece that is about human rights, and how our country is not supporting families, and how restrictive that makes our lives and our freedom of choices. Human rights, that’s what you’re talking about. Thank you so much for your work. You’re amazing.
Gloria Riviera 40:38
Carol […] Marie, thank you, you are amazing. And yes, of course, we are talking about human rights here. That is what we need to feel. That is what we need to know we have embedded in our lives in the life your son wants to build with three or four or five kids. And sure, to some extent, of course, we all have to have a conversation about what reality will look like. When I heard you talk about your son and my own boys 14 now and mentioned all the things he will have to add minimum have on his radar, work and childcare and the juggle that conversation in and of itself. I like to think I hope to think that is progress in some small way due to what you have heard on this podcast. I feel a lot of respect for you right now. And for that conversation, because it is not one we really want to have, right? But we have to have it. You are passing along in as loving away as I can imagine an important conversation down to your son. And I would bet he appreciates it. And I can just tell you, I can tell from the way that you talk about all of this. I know he loves you for that conversation. So good job, Mama. All right. I do want to hear from you. In light of the decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade and the high cost and inaccessibility of childcare in this country. Would you want? Or would you want someone you care about to become pregnant in the next year? Why or why not? To share your thoughts with me just pull out your phone, record a voice memo and email it to me at email@example.com. I cannot wait to hear from you. And before we go, there is one more thing there is more. No one is coming to save us with lemon auto premium. And right now there is a limited time discount yes on our annual subscription between now and Monday, November 28. It’s just 2949 That’s nearly half off. You’ll get access to all of Lemonada’s Premium content, including our next premium episode featuring even more of today’s incredible conversation with Jamie and Janae. Subscribe now in Apple podcasts right where you listen to this show and do it before November 28. All right. That is all for this week. Thank you all so much. I really mean that for listening.
NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE US is a Lemonada Media original presented by and created with Neighborhood Villages. The show is produced by Kryssy Pease and Alex McOwen. Veronica Rodriguez is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. Our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, and me Gloria Riviera. If you like the show, and you believe what we’re doing is important. Please help others find us by leaving us a rating and writing us a review. Do you have your own experiences and frustrations with the childcare system? Do you have ideas for what we could do to make it better? Join the No One Is Coming To Save Us Facebook group where we can continue the conversation together. You can also follow us and other Lemonada podcasts at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms. Thank you so much for listening. We will be back next week. Until then hang in there. You can do it.