Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern
Freedom From Religion Foundation
Abortion is still a blessing.
Anne Nicol Gaylor, the principal founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote Abortion is a Blessing as a manifesto of a woman’s right to choose abortion. Published just two years after the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion across the United States, Gaylor’s book was a timely testament.
Since then, the Religious Right has chipped away at abortion, making it more and more inaccessible to women across the country. Forty-five years after its initial publication, Abortion is a Blessing continues to be relevant — and abortion is perhaps a greater blessing than ever.
In her book, Gaylor described a pre-Roe era of prohibitive costs, limited abortion providers, and out-of-state trips to procure timely procedures for women in Wisconsin, the state in which her abortion activist roots took shape and now the headquarters of FFRF.
Currently, there are only four abortion clinics in the state; three are in either Milwaukee or Madison. This means that rural and northern Wisconsin women must travel great lengths to get to clinics. Additionally, mandated in-person abortion counseling, unnecessary waiting periods, and no Medicaid coverage prevent the most marginalized women from achieving bodily autonomy.
Wisconsin is just one of dozens of states hostile to abortion rights. This opposition and accompanying legislation to curtail reproductive rights are rooted in religion.
For example, early this year the Wisconsin Assembly, claiming abortion is “a destruction of life,” passed a resolution declaring Jan. 22 as “Protect Life Day.” The language used to justify the anti-abortion legislation best reveals the co-sponsors’ intent: “Pray for the thousands of aborted babies here in Wisconsin and across the nation who never even had a proper Christian burial” (Rep. Janel Brandtjen) and “Adoption saves lives and changes lives! May God bless those who make that right decision!” (Rep. Timothy Ramthun).
Although the resolution died in the Wisconsin Senate, religious lawmakers will continue to invoke Christian Nationalism to vilify abortion. Women’s health depends on the separation of state and church.
In Abortion is a Blessing, Gaylor wrote, “I knew that regardless of how abortion was looked upon, it was infinitely humane compared to the horror of unwanted pregnancies.” Research backs this up as studies have shown that being denied an abortion is a traumatic event and that 99 percent of women don’t regret their abortion.
Science confirms it: Abortion is indeed a blessing.
Anne Nicol Gaylor’s book, Abortion is a Blessing, is free to read at FFRF’s website.
Barbara Alvarez is from Madison, Wis., and attends the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working on a Ph.D. in library and information sciences with a minor in gender and women’s studies. Alvarez was a major winner in last year’s FFRF essay competition for graduate students, writing about the bible’s role in the abortion battle. She is FFRF’s first Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern, a program set up to memorialize FFRF’s principal founder, who was an early abortion rights activist and author of the book Abortion is a Blessing.