TEXAS, USA — Instead of wanting to limit abortion for religious reasons, a group of ministers have recently started arguing the opposite.
They say Texas’ abortion laws actually violate their religious freedom.
So, four north Texas ministers recently sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, essentially putting him on notice that legal action could follow.
Senior Pastor Rachel Baughman with Oak Lawn United Methodist Church is one. And she’s wanting to send a specific message to Austin.
“I hope it sends a counter-narrative to, honestly, the heavy-handed narrative of Christian nationalism,” she said on Inside Texas Politics. “That alternatively, I represent a mainline denomination. We represent hundreds of thousands of people. And I am really just trying to stand up and protect our rights and ability to have honest conversation and dialogue with our congregation members about things that matter.”
Baughman says SB 8, also known as the Heartbeat bill, gives anxiety to any clergy or others who offer counseling, guidance or even conversation with women who are pregnant.
And she says that’s because they fear they could be seen as “aiding and abetting” if they counsel that person to get an abortion, which could open them up to criminal prosecution.
“In my practice of counseling and offering guidance in terms of religious guidance, and guidance for what the church says, and what we hold as important social principles for how we conduct our lives as Christian people, my understanding is that SB 8 would burden my ability to do that, would even challenge the possibility that I be prosecuted for doing so, even for matters of life versus life,” Baughman told us.
And that life versus life argument is important because the Methodist church recognizes the sanctity of the life of a mother as well as that of an unborn child. So, they argue any decision involving life versus life must be made at the individual level, but the law prevents it.
While this effort started with a letter to the Attorney General, Pastor Baughman fully expects it to be litigated.
“I don’t think it’s possible this won’t end up in Texas courts,” she said.