Pews to Politics: How American Christian Antiabortionists Have Influenced Abortion and Reproductive Care in the United States

The current state of reproductive access and care in the United States is disheartening, marked by a decline in accessibility since 2017 and a surge in barriers such as limited birth control access, geographical distances to clinics, and instances of physical harassment.1 The overturn of Roe v. Wade in 2022 shifted the responsibility of protecting abortion rights to individual states, resulting in varying restrictions. Some states fully ban abortion or have minimal exceptions, while others impose gestational limits. The landscape ranges from states where abortion is blocked to those where it is legal but lacks cross-state protections.2

This situation has unfolded under the influence of predominantly geriatric white men, with Former President Trump’s strategic stacking of the Supreme Court playing a pivotal role. His openly pledged commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, coupled with inflammatory rhetoric, has amplified the influence of Christian extremism.3 Misinformation, including false claims linking abortion to breast cancer or infertility, is propagated by anti-abortion extremists to intimidate women away from reproductive care.4 Pregnancy crisis centers, purportedly offering assistance, often provide limited services and lack medical expertise, posing potential dangers to women’s health.

The pro-life agenda resonates strongly, drawing thousands to events like the March for Life in Washington, D.C. The leaked Supreme Court opinion preceding Dobbs mirrors the misinformation spread by Christian anti-abortion protesters, using perilous phrases to justify overturning Roe. Pew Research Center’s insights reveal substantial approval among Republicans, particularly those affiliated with the Christian tradition. This approval aligns with a strengthening association between the Republican Party and Christian values, evident in the significant uptick in protests outside abortion clinics by individuals who supported overturning Roe.5 This intricate interplay between public opinion, religious values, and political activism underscores the profound impact of Christian influence on the unfolding dynamics of reproductive rights in the United States.

First, Christian morality has been a rallying cry for anti-abortion groups, with prominent figures such as Jerry Falwell, Paul Weyrich, and Tim LaHaye of the Moral Majority, Phyllis Schlafly advocating for traditional family values, and Kristan Hawkins leading Students for Life’s unapologetic campaign against abortion. Christian morality, deeply rooted in scripture, plays a pivotal role in influencing individuals’ life choices and shaping perspectives on abortion. This influence extends beyond doctrinal distinctions among Christian denominations, as seen in the diverse stances documented by the Pew Research Center. Different denominations, such as the American Baptist Churches, Southern Baptist Convention, Catholic Church, Presbyterians, and Methodists, exhibit varying positions on abortion, reflecting the nuanced interplay between personal beliefs, religious devotion, and official church positions.6

The impact of church teachings on abortion goes beyond doctrinal differences, revealing a complex interplay between personal beliefs and religious community positions. A compelling trend emerges, highlighting a correlation between the strength of one’s belief in the Christian God and the depth of conviction against abortion. The more firmly individuals hold their faith, the more resolute their opposition to abortion tends to be, underscoring the integral role of religious beliefs in shaping attitudes toward reproductive rights. Church attendance further strengthens anti-abortion sentiments, with higher attendance correlating with more pronounced disapproval of abortion. This suggests that regular engagement with religious practices and community reinforces individual moral convictions, emphasizing the powerful impact of communal religious experiences in shaping views on abortion.

Moreover, the steadfastness of Christian morality is evident in those who firmly hold anti-abortion views, particularly when their church explicitly condemns abortion based on scripturally interpreted morality. In such cases, individuals are more likely to align their beliefs with the doctrinal stance of their church, establishing a direct and influential link between religious teachings and the formation of personal convictions on abortion. This intricate web of relationships between personal faith, church teachings, and moral viewpoints underscores the multifaceted nature of Christianity’s influence on abortion attitudes within congregational settings.

Secondly, language is a powerful force in shaping and unifying a movement, with slogans and phrases acting as the foundational elements that bind its fabric together. An illustrative example of this influence is found on the Students for Life website, where a page titled “Pro-Life Slogans” features impactful statements like “I am the Pro-Life Generation,” “My Generation Rejects Abortion,” and “I Vote Pro-Life First.” These slogans, as emphasized on the webpage, aim to engage and communicate effectively, forming a cohesive narrative for the pro-life movement.7

However, the problematic nature of these slogans becomes apparent on multiple fronts. The choice of words and emotional language raises concerns, especially in the portrayal of organizations like Planned Parenthood. The slogans perpetuate a misleading narrative, contributing to a distorted image reminiscent of Former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric. Biologically accurate terms, such as “fetus” instead of “baby,” are crucial in discussions about abortion. The emotional language used by anti-abortionists may mislead the public, as evidenced by the discrepancy between portrayals and the actual timing of most abortions reported by the Center for Disease Control in 2021.8 Additionally, the prevalence of misinformation about abortion, characterized as an “infodemic,” is evident in Google searches, as highlighted by the study “Quality of Top Webpages Providing Abortion Pill Information.” The study reveals a troubling acceptance of misinformation as factual, with searches for enduring mental health issues linked to abortion pills and crisis pregnancy center locations occurring more frequently.9

Amidst this infodemic, women seeking information about abortion require clearer assistance and unbiased resources. Inaccurate search results, pamphlets, and literature produced by biased anti-abortion organizations, such as the Charlotte Lozier Institute and Focus on the Family, do not provide the necessary support. Women deserve accurate information that is not intended to dissuade or instill fear, recognizing the crucial role that accurate information plays in decisions related to their lives, well-being, financial health, and future.

Lastly, The pro-life opposition to abortion clinics encompasses a spectrum of perspectives, ranging from philosophical discussions to tangible actions. A Google search for “Christians against Planned Parenthood” reveals diverse articles, addressing theological considerations, advocating for the cessation of Planned Parenthood’s operations, and documenting incidents of violence against abortion clinics, particularly those affiliated with Planned Parenthood. Amidst this landscape, the Church at Planned Parenthood emerges as a distinct entity, positioning itself as a gathering of Christians engaged in worship and prayer at what they term the “gates of Hell.” Despite claiming not to be a protest, their dramatic presence, characterized by emotionally charged language such as “abortion holocaust” and “blood guiltiness,” distinguishes them as one of the most vocal Christian groups actively protesting outside Planned Parenthood facilities nationwide.10

The carefully chosen language of the Church at Planned Parenthood, designed to evoke intense emotions, contributes to their distinctive method of presence. This organization, rooted in Spokane, Washington, faced legal consequences in 2021 when a judge prohibited their loud demonstrations outside Planned Parenthood, categorizing them as “protesters.” The legal repercussions extended beyond mere restrictions, revealing adverse effects on patients seeking care inside the clinic. Demonstrations by the Church at Planned Parenthood resulted in increased pain and psychiatric symptoms for patients, leading to a recent court ruling mandating the organization to pay approximately $960,000 to Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho for violating state laws and interfering with patient care.11 This intricate narrative highlights the glaring connection between acts of violence against abortion clinics, certain expressions of Christianity, and the broader societal discourse surrounding abortion.

Clearly, the influence of Christian beliefs on abortion care and reproductive health in the United States is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon deeply woven into the nation’s political and social fabric. A critical aspect of this impact is illuminated through the research trajectory, which emphasizes the pivotal role played by the Christian and conservative Republican base in shaping the landscape surrounding abortion rights, especially in the aftermath of significant legal milestones such as the overturn of Roe v Wade and the subsequent Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Center case.

A notable turning point occurred with the conservative shift within the Supreme Court orchestrated by Former President Donald Trump. This shift not only marked a transformation in judicial ideology but also triggered a surge in anti-abortion demonstrations in 2022. The revelation of the majority opinion became a catalyst, transforming these protests into celebratory events. Beyond mere demonstrations, the impact extends into American political discourse and electoral considerations, as evidenced by surveys indicating that abortion is a pivotal factor for over forty percent of voters. Former President Donald Trump strategically crafted an anti-abortion platform, resonating strongly with Evangelicals, and appointed Catholic Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to fulfill his campaign promise of dismantling Roe. This Christian influence further manifests in societal structures and conservative activism, encompassing areas such as education and public-school curricula, as well as ongoing Supreme Court discussions regarding birth control protections. The evidence of conservative influence is glaring not only in legal and political spheres but also in the escalating violence against abortion providers and clinics, signaling a troubling trend at the intersection of religious beliefs, political agendas, and women’s access to reproductive healthcare. As these dynamics continue to unfold, the Christian impact on abortion care and reproductive health emerges as a complex and enduring facet of the American socio-political landscape.

by Keegan Beamish, Presidential Intern


[1] Adler, Aliza et al. “Changes in the Frequency and Type of Barriers to Reproductive Health Care Between 2017 and 2021.” JAMA network open vol. 6,4 e237461. 3 Apr. 2023, doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.7461

[2] The New York Times. “Tracking Abortion Bans Across the Country” The New York Times, The New York Times Company, Updated November 7, 2023

[3] Mangan, Dan. “Trump: I’ll Appoint Supreme Court Justices to Overturn Roe v. Wade Abortion Case.” CNBC, CNBC LLC, 19 Oct. 2016,

[4] Pro-Choice North Carolina. “Common Fake Women’s Health Center Misinformation.” Pro-Choice North Carolina,

[5] Pew Research Center. “Views About Abortion.” Pew Research Center,

[6] Pew Research Center. “Religious Groups’ Official Positions on Abortion.” Pew Research Center, 16 Jan. 2013,

[7] Students for Life. “Good Pro-Life Sign Slogans.” Students for Life,,

[8] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Abortion Surveillance.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 21, 2023,

[9] Pleasants, E., Guendelman, S., Weidert, K., & Prata, N. (2021). “Quality of Top Webpages Providing Abortion Pill Information for Google Searches in the USA: An Evidence-Based Webpage Quality Assessment.” PLoS ONE, 16(1), e0240664.​​.pone.0240664


[11] Yang, Maya. “Anti-abortion group to pay Planned Parenthood nearly $1m over protest at clinic” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 6 Feb. 2023,