The Sanctity of Abortion | Crooked Media
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September 04, 2020
Unholier Than Thou
The Sanctity of Abortion

In This Episode

This week, Phill dives into the most religiously fraught political battlefield of our time: Abortion. To better understand the fight for abortion access nationwide, he first talks to Monica Simpson, the executive director at Sister Song, a reproductive justice organization led by women of color. Monica breaks down the ways reproductive care becomes politicized, and what’s at stake for bodily autonomy should Trump win re-election. Then, Phill talks to Reverend Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft—a pro-choice minister who explains the history of religion and abortion, and how the pro-life movement was created as a convenient political tool for white men seeking power.





Phillip Picardi: From Crooked Media, This is Unholier Than Thou. I’m your host, Phillip Picardi. At last week’s Republican National Convention, we heard the old buzzword loud and clear “abortion.”


Speaker 1: See, for me, abortion is real. I know what it sounds like. I know what abortion smells like. Did you know abortion even had a smell?


Speaker 2: And while we tend to think of the marginalized as living beyond our borders, the truth is the largest marginalized group in the world can be found here in the United States. They are the unborn.


Phillip Picardi: For decades, Christian groups have mounted an offense against reproductive rights in America, polarizing the right to choose and condemning those who seek abortions as sinners. In turn, the fight for reproductive justice has become a religious and legislative battleground in our country. For the next two weeks, we’ll be talking about abortion here on Unholy Than Thou, how it was adopted by the religious right and how progressive spiritual leaders are learning to talk about it. We’ll also hear one woman’s abortion story and how it forever changed her views on faith. But before we dive into all the God stuff, I want to make sure we’re all on the same page about what reproductive justice is and what the people fighting for it are currently up against. To do that, I called up Monica Ray Simpson, the executive director of Sister Song, a women of color-led reproductive justice organization based in the South.


Phillip Picardi: Monica, thank you so much for joining me, I really appreciate it.


Monica Simpson: Thank you so much for having me. It is really an honor. Really glad to be here today.


Phillip Picardi: Can you tell me a little bit about the incredible work that Sister Song is doing?


Monica Simpson: Sure. Sister Song works across communities, across cultures, and that has been at the foundation of the work now since 1997, to bring our communities and cultures together around reproductive freedom. Right, like reproductive justice is about us being able to have the freedom to make our own decisions about our own lives and to be able to do that without fear of violence, that we deserve to live in a world where our decisions are ours, where our bodies are ours, and that we get to determine our own futures. And so, Sister Song, does that work in a myriad of different ways, but at its core, that is the work that we do every single day. And I love it. I absolutely love it.


Phillip Picardi: I can hear it in your voice. And I’m so glad that you had that experience from day one with the organization. Can you help me understand why it is so important to, as Sister Song does, really center the priorities and experiences of women of color, and the fight for reproductive justice?


Monica Simpson: It is so critical right now. I mean, we are all watching the news every single day. We are reading our social media feeds and we can’t go a day without hearing about some injustice in our communities against people of color, against queer and trans folk, against gender nonconforming folk—like it is the constant barrage of just, you know, stories that are letting us know that our lives are constantly at stake. You know, our communities historically have always had to fight for our own freedom, we’ve had to patrol our own fertility. Like that is a history that is just one that we can look back to as a Black woman talking about this, from our people being stolen from our land and brought to this country, right? And so if we know that’s our history, we know that that is what we’ve had to constantly fight against, it is absolutely necessary that we center the experiences, we center the needs, of communities of color as we’re doing this work. Because once we do that, then we are talking about liberation, right? That’s what we’re talking about here. Yeah.


Phillip Picardi: Yes. OK, so let’s talk a little bit about the politics of this work, because that’s a huge part of Sister Song’s mission. So tell me, obviously, Sister Song operates on the principles of reproductive justice, which you’ve already pointed out goes above and beyond just abortion, but it also encompasses the wider systemic issues that are present with reproductive care in general. So what exactly is the pro-life versus pro-choice conversation or labels? Who and what is that missing?


Monica Simpson: Let me tell you, this pro-life term, I feel like was just like snatched, you know, and just snatched from us. Because if I was to be very honest, I would say that those of us who do reproductive justice work are pro-life, because we care about the full life of the individual that’s carrying children or not, and we care about the life of children once they are here, right? And that is not what the “pro-lifers” quote unquote, that are kind of leading this pro-life propaganda, that’s not what they care about. I call them pro-birthers, really, because they only care about the birth. And when we think about birth, they only care about the birth of certain types of folks in this country. But the way that the dynamics are set up or have been set up historically is that pro-lifers are those folks who are—or pro-birthers—are those folks who are here for the fetus, they’re here for making sure that babies are not harmed. And they just they really push this like gruesome and over the past decade or so, very racist messages about abortion in this country, right? 10 years ago this year, racist billboards hit Georgia that said the most dangerous place for an African-American child is in the mother’s womb. And that was pushed by those pro-lifer, anti-choice folks. And so we have just seen them use a myriad of methods, right, of trying to push their message and trying to get people to shame those who are making their own very private decisions about their bodies and their reproductive lives. So the reproductive justice frame honors and definitely gives it honor, right, to the pro-choice work and the work that’s continuing to go on, but it pushes us further to think about the full life of an individual, and how the systems of oppression, how they are set up in this country, how that then impacts, right, certain communities versus others. But I want to snatch back that pro-life term, so bad.


Phillip Picardi: I love that.


Monica Simpson: They’re just lying. They are not pro-life. They are, I have not seen a pro-lifer at any of the other conferences I’ve gone to around economic justice or environmental justice or any of the other places that we’re showing up. And if they are showing up there, then they’re coming to divide and conquer. And that actually is you know, that’s just not about community building. It’s not about social justice. It’s not about freedom. It’s not about liberation. So they’re coming there to not be on the side of justice, they’re coming to antagonize. And of course, we’re not going to have it.


Phillip Picardi: Absolutely. Well, and that brings me to my next point, which is that you’re on the front lines of this reproductive justice fight by Sister Song’s very nature of being located in the south, right, within the Bible Belt of America. I can only imagine how often you see religion being wielded against you and the work that you and your colleagues are doing.


Monica Simpson: Yeah, absolutely. I’m born and raised in the South, in the Bible Belt. I grew up in rural North Carolina and now live here in Georgia. And I tell you, I, we’ve had to contend with the church, you know, on so many different, so many different fronts, right? And I think that what is, as a Black woman, you know, the Black church, right? Thinking about the ways in which, you know, the church has unfortunately been a space that has also put a wedge in our communities, right? From this very moral perspective of just like trying to tell people not to talk about their bodies or encouraging silence around some issues, and in some instances just blatantly saying that, no, we’re not going to support the work that you’re doing around abortion access or sexual health or anything like that, because these are very taboo conversations. But it is absolutely insane sometimes, like when you are confronted with people with Bibles in their hands and throwing that Bible in your face. And I’m just like, I thought you were supposed to be about peace and love, this, there’s nothing about this that feels peaceful and loving by any means. You know, you tell me what to do with my own body. And it gets hard, it gets really, really hard. I recently had a conversation with someone because, you know, she was, she’s very deeply rooted in the church and, you know, we get, we agree on a lot of different things and somehow this conversation of abortion came up recently and she just went ballistic on me. And she’s just like, I don’t understand how you keep doing this and furthermore, I don’t see the difference between this abortion stuff that you’re doing and like the killing of Black people in the streets. And I was like, whoa, you have taken it way too far. Right? Like this is getting out of hand.


Phillip Picardi: But what do you say to her? Because that is a common thing that many people are hearing all the time about abortion. I mean, Kanye West recently tweeted that abortion is a form of genocide of Black people. And there are many people who would happen to agree with Mr. West or who have a hard time reading that tweet and then thinking that they want to be pro-choice. Right? That is how the conversation of abortion has been weaponized. So what do you say in those situations? I mean, if you, if you do choose to engage at all, which you might not.


Monica Simpson: Well no. I do engage because this kind of stuff like, really it drives me. Right? We don’t get to the other side of these conversations unless we go through them with each other. And so what I say in those instances, first, you know, I’ll say like, if you don’t have a uterus, I don’t understand why you are even putting your two cents into this conversation. That’s number one. So when I see folks like a Kanye West who—bless his heart, I pray that he is getting the help that he needs to heal in all the ways that he needs to—but if this is not something that is like close at home to you, I don’t understand how you are then going to put your opinion out about somebody else’s body. That’s just number one. But even as I push further into the conversation with folks and I’m not, and I tell people all the time, I’m not here to be an evangelist for abortion. I’m not trying to get you to come to my side, because I don’t know your story and I don’t know why you believe what you believe around abortion access. Where we have a problem is when you take your personal belief and you then try to use that to legislate against me or to violate me and my beliefs. That’s where we have an issue, right? So I would love for everyone to be on the same page about abortion, but I just don’t think that that’s what we’re going to have in the world. But what we can have in the world is an agreement that whatever your personal belief is, is yours, right? So if you are like putting that, if you just put people into people’s real lives, as opposed to just looking at this as just an issue area—it’s not an issue area for people, it is their lives that we’re talking about. Right? And if you haven’t lived that person’s life, which you havem’t, and if you don’t know that person, if you even if you have even asked them their story, right, you have no connection to them, then you have absolutely no right to then tell anybody else what to do for themselves and for their families and as they’re creating their own futures. And so that’s how I approach it. And I go hard on it, too, [laughs] it’s just, it blows me away that people think that they can just take this little bird’s eye view into a person’s life on this one particular issue, like we’re single-issue people. You know, Audre Lorde said it best, we could not have a single-issue movement because we do not live single-issue lives. So do not push me into a single lens. I am a full human being.


Phillip Picardi: Monica, maybe you should have been a preacher because you are taking me to church right now. That was incredible and so necessary. Thank you for that.


Monica Simpson: Sure. Absolutely. It is like, it’s just such a passion of mine. And I grew up as that young girl, Black girl who did not have access to sexual education and I made some very, very interesting decisions and hard decisions for myself in trying to figure things out for myself. Right? And I didn’t have, and I didn’t feel safe enough, right, to really ask the questions I wanted to ask. And so when I when I talk about why I do this work, I do it for the little girls like me, the little girls raised in the country, the little young Black girls, you know, in the Black church who are being told one thing from the pulpit, but knowing that that is just not reality for my life. Right? And my work is to create those safe spaces and that’s Sister Songs’ work, to create those safe spaces where people can have their own transformation, where they can do their own healing, and they can get the education to be able to then go out and advocate on behalf of themselves, and let us all work together collectively to change these policies and to make the systematic change necessary for us to seek reproductive freedom in our lifetime.


Phillip Picardi: Right. Well, let’s talk about some of those policies, because I think it’s easy to get confused about the news cycle that surrounds abortion access in our country. But things have regressed to such a scary point, I think, for the reproductive justice movement, particularly in the last four years under Donald Trump’s administration. But can you give me some top-line examples of the things that Sister Song has been fighting against and the alarming things that you’ve seen in the past four years that are becoming more of a pattern, and certainly would continue if Donald Trump were to be reelected in November?


Monica Simpson: Absolutely. So over the past decade, we’ve seen hundreds—not a few, not a couple—hundreds of anti-abortion legislation sweep across this nation, from personhood bills to trap laws. I mean, they have pulled all stops out at the state level to put as many barriers in place for those who are seeking abortion in, across this country. And that to me just shows us that there are a lot of people who don’t want legislation like Roe v. Wade to remain the law of the land. They’re trying to do everything in their power to chip away at it. They’re just trying to take it away. And I would be remiss to say that even though Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, that those communities, again, historically pushed to the margins would say that Roe v. Wade doesn’t always necessarily trickle down to them, because you know, issues around access, economics, and all of that come into play when we think about those who are still able to access abortion and those who aren’t.


Phillip Picardi: Sure, yeah, you need to take time off of work. You need to be able to afford health care. You might not have a clinic near you. The closest clinic to you could be hundreds of miles away. All of those things are are barriers to care, deliberate barriers to care.


Monica Simpson: Absolutely. And you can live in a state like Mississippi or Kentucky that has like one abortion clinic for the entire state, Right, when you think about traveling. So all of that comes into play. We’ve also seen going before the Supreme Court, we’ve now had two major cases go before the Supreme Court. I don’t know any other movement who’s had to, like, fight at the Supreme Court level like twice within the past four years. So that’s another example of just like how important these issues are because they are coming so hard for us. And then this past year, what we saw that was I mean—it’s frightening—was this introduction of abortion bans across the country. And Georgia, unfortunately, our home base, got hit with an abortion ban and we had to immediately go, as we always have to, into defense mode to defend, you know, the reproductive freedom of folks in the state of Georgia, as well as the other states that were impacted by these abortion bans. And so we did have a victory in the state of Georgia. Sister Song was the lead plaintiff in the case against Governor Kemp and the state of Georgia to make sure that this abortion ban did not go into effect and did not impact the lives of Georgians. And so we were very, very excited about that win.


Phillip Picardi: Congratulations.


Monica Simpson: And so those abortion bans are real. And it’s something that we’re going to have to keep our eye on constantly now as we get ready to roll into this next legislative session of 2021. So that’s what we’ve been up against, ya’ll, right? We have had to contend with anti-abortion rhetoric, anti-abortion legislation, and, their ranks are growing, right? They are seeping into so many other spaces and like trying to pull people in, you know, to their way of thinking. And, you know, we’ve had to fight the culture war on this from the Kanye West all the way to, you know, other crazy right-wing preachers or whoever. Like, we’re constantly in a culture war around our issues, sexual education, sexual health, abortion access, contraception, and all of that.


Phillip Picardi: That is, it’s wild. You know, this whole fight, this whole, quote unquote “pro-life” fight is a true robbery of agency of every level, because like you’ve pointed out, they want to rob you of your ability to choose what you do with your body. But they also want to rob you of contraception and they also want to rob you of education. And in doing so, they leave you with the false choice in the first place, right? They’re removing all of your opportunities to make choices for yourself, to make informed choices for oneself. And as a queer person, certainly I can absolutely relate. The first time I was educated about HIV in my life was after I had had unprotected sex at the age of 18 because I didn’t know you had to wear a condom or you were supposed to wear a condom to protect yourself, right? And I know that these things have repercussions for people in their personal lives and no one should feel alone in this fight. And so the incredible work that you’re doing to build a coalition and make people feel seen and heard and not alone is very encouraging. I’m wondering for the people at home, how do we support Sister Song in the fight for reproductive justice nationwide?


Monica Simpson: For sure. There’s a couple of ways you can do that. We would love for you all to be a member of our organization. We are a membership organization of individuals as well as organizations because it is very important for you to support this Black woman, this Black queer woman-led organization that’s working for reproductive justice. But it’s also a way for us to build our collective power to keep pushing in the ways that we need to. We also, through our social media channels, we constantly keep you all updated on the various trainings and institutes that we are doing now virtually, hopefully back together again sooner than later. But those are just some of the ways that you can get involved with us. And we want you to be a member. We want you to be connected to this work. Please, please, please.


Phillip Picardi: Thank you so much, Monica. I really appreciate you taking the time with me today.


Monica Simpson: Thank you for opening up your platform for us today. I’m very, very grateful. Thank you.


Phillip Picardi: Now that we have a better understanding of these terms, reproductive justice, pro-choice, pro-life, I wanted to hear from a faith leader about what the Bible says specifically about abortion. Spoiler alert, not much. A friend pointed me in the direction of Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft, who’s the executive minister for Justice, Education & Movement Building at Middle Church in New York City. Amanda joined the fight for reproductive justice in a big way. And in doing so, she never felt like she was going against God.


Phillip Picardi: Amanda, thank you so much for joining us today.


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: Thanks for having me.


Phillip Picardi: So I guess to dive right into the thick of it, I would love to better understand the role between abortion, religion and politics. So where do we even start?


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: Well, these three things are super, super combined. And I think one of the things that not a lot of people realize is just how manipulative the religious movement has been with abortion. So I think one of the places that we could start is right before Roe versus Wade, so we’re talking 1960s. And in America, there were, to many people’s surprise, actually, religious evangelicals and conservatives who were advocating for legislation for reproductive justice and for abortion, under certain circumstances. While that is going along, Roe versus Wade gets passed in the 1973. And there is a common myth today in America that says that the religious right, which is essentially the coalition of conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists, emerged as a political movement in response to Roe versus Wade, which of course legalizes abortion. And that simply isn’t true. So it really wasn’t until 1979 that evangelicals decided to seize on abortion, and it really wasn’t for moral reasons. It really was actually a move to, under the radar and very racistly, fully protect segregation. And that is just something that is not told very often.


Phillip Picardi: But what do those two things have to do with each other?


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: Well, misogyny.


Phillip Picardi: Sure.


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: White supremacy.


Phillip Picardi: Sure.


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: And the power that the leaders of the evangelical movement at that time, of course, are white, straight Christian men, and so they were able to craft a narrative and put it forward that stuck. Essentially, they knew that it was not going to be palatable to say, hey, we need to form a religious right so that we can not allow Carter to have a second term because we’re racist and we don’t want schools to be segregated. So what should we do? Oh, let’s use babies. Let’s use unborn babies. Let’s say that that is what we are organizing around when really it’s under the radar, a way to continue to be misogynistic and racist.


Phillip Picardi: So what you’re saying is they came to abortion as a political strategy to basically say we can capture votes by making the Democrats look like effectively baby killers.


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: Exactly.


Phillip Picardi: Meanwhile, we cannot just stop abortion and continue to have full control and reign over women and their bodies and the subjugation of women, but we can also achieve our longer term goal of preventing racial equality in America.


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: Exactly. That’s exactly right. And you can obviously there within religion is a part of that, because we’re talking about the formation of the religious right. And so that is something that has continued today. And it was an easy sell in a lot of ways because the leaders of the religious right, again, are, religious Christian right, are men. And so they can pull and pick scriptures from the Christian Bible, which talk about women, women’s subjugation to men, and how men are the rulers of the home. And so if this is, this is the propaganda that they’re putting forward, of course, everyone in the pews is going to believe it and is going to move it forward. When, in fact, just 10 years before we have conservatives who were actually legislating for some reproductive justice legislation.


Phillip Picardi: That is really something. And just for some more background, can you tell me who typically comprises the religious right in America?


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: Generally speaking, those are white Christian people who live in the South who tend to vote Republican.


Phillip Picardi: OK, that makes sense. And obviously, we know, as you’ve said, that these people heavily supported Donald Trump. And even though Donald Trump is not himself the pinnacle of Christianity, a group of evangelicals recently told The New York Times in a pretty intense feature that they support him because he is preventing abortion in America.


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: Exactly. And I am a, an ordained minister in the Christian tradition. And that is deeply, deeply troubling in my bones. It’s just sickening. It’s just really, really distressing. And a lot of reclaiming and reframing work has to be done.


Phillip Picardi: Yes. We can’t reclaim and reframe unless we understand the argument at hand. The argument that they are making, that their followers are buying, which is that abortion is a sin. Can you tell me why these people believe abortion to be a sin?


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: Yes. I think a lot of Focus on the Family and other right-leaning publications and narratives will focus on passages in the Holy Bible that talk about the womb. They’ll pull passages from the Psalms and from Isaiah and from Jeremiah that say, I knew you when you were formed in your mother’s womb. I formed you and you are intimately and wonderfully made, every hair on your head, I know. And so this talk of the womb is usually where the pro-life movement will focus. They will say that there is, that that in and of itself then is sanctified and it is life and it is God-breathed, and so therefore, even in utero, even as an embryo, there within is life.


Phillip Picardi: OK, well that sounds pretty hard to put holes in. No?


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: I can put a few holes in it. I mean, I think in the same way that you could say that I formed you in your mother’s womb, I can also say, yeah God, and you also formed me, right now, with this womb that I am carrying. And you formed me to be a person of moral character and to have moral agency. That is a theological truth that I hold, which is, it also says in Genesis that every single person is created in the divine image. And so if that is true, then I also have the ability, and this is just some feminists reading of the scriptures as well, I have the ability then to make decisions about my own body. That’s one way to kind of poke some holes in it. I think another one is that we get down a really slippery slope, Phill, when we pick and choose individual scriptures from any holy book. And evangelical Christians actually do this a lot. And if we do that, it’s very dangerous because we could pull out scriptures that say I’m not supposed to ever cut my hair, or eat fish or, you know, all kinds of crazy things, and—


Phillip Picardi: Or wear polyester.


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: Yes, we could. We could—


Phillip Picardi: Although I do have to say overwhelmingly, I agree with that one. But anyways, that’s neither here nor there. Continue.


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: I find that the most truthful way and the most liberating way to read the Bible is as a full story. And so what are the overarching truths that this book is telling us? What are the things that over and over again come to the surface when we are reading this? And that is things like freedom and liberation and Justice and overturning systems of power and corruption, of which this whole entire issue was founded and continues to perpetuate in this country—if we even start to think about who lack of reproductive justice affects the most. That’s brown and Black women who get a full range of services from clinics.


Phillip Picardi: Well, that actually brings up a really interesting point about the importance of addressing the intersectionality of abortion as an issue. The far right would love to say that they are, quote “pro-life” which was very clever marketing on on their end, right? To say I stand for life and therefore I am against abortion, and that is why I am voting Republican and you should, too. Now, I know, and you know why saying that abortion is pro-life is a limiting and also practically false statement in a way. I’m wondering if you can help me articulate why, if someone truly is pro-life, if they are valuing the Bible’s values of life, why they would actually be pro-abortion?


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: I think that you’re absolutely right. That the Moral Majority was brilliant in their marketing to say this is a pro-life movement. Well, I actually am also a pro-life pastor, period. Full stop. And what that means to me is that I’m not just worried about an embryo or life before it is fully birthed. It means that if I am pro-life, that I am caring about all of life. It means that I am caring about how life is either able to be fully lived abundantly as God calls and God desires, or if there are lives on this Earth right now who are living under oppressive, racist classist, systems of injustice. That is a hard one for the pro-life movement to understand, because they will still just get stuck on well, you haven’t even given that life a chance. You haven’t even, you haven’t even let this one even attempt to flourish. And if someone wants to get stuck there, OK, that’s fine. But at the end of the day, also the Bible that I read tells me that freedom, it is in Christ that we have been set free. And for any institution, whether it be the state or religious, to put a restriction on my ability to be free, that is not biblical. And in many ways, we’re still doing that today. We, there are not children who are free who are down at the border, who are still in cages. There are not people who are free literally right now because they’re dying at disproportionate rates of COVID. So there’s really nothing about the co-opt of saying that this is a pro-life movement that is Christian or biblical.


Phillip Picardi: Sure. And pro-life, does that not mean pro quality of life, too?


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: Exactly.


Phillip Picardi: Now, so I’m wondering, how do we change the polarized and flattened dialog around abortion in America? Because this is a topic that people do not like to talk about.


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: You know, I think changing the public narrative and changing the public conversation is so important around this. I think, I am not—I’m a white woman, so I am not a leader in areas of racial justice because of that, but I am able to speak to white women in a way that women of color can’t, because they can see something about themselves in me that they relate to. And psychologists have told us that the space in our brain that is even able to conceptualize change is so small, unless we have prior shared experiences with someone. And so my hope is that we can tell a story that people who have been manipulated by another narrative can have a space in their brain to be able to connect to and say, OK, how can I think about this differently? Because also what can we learn from the way that this narrative was able to really take hold in America is another question I ask, and that is the way that they talk about babies and children. And so let’s keep talking about babies and children. I am fine to do that. Let’s keep talking about maternal health. Let’s keep talking about the need for better care, both pre and post birth for Black mothers. Let’s keep talking about how Black mothers are more likely to die than white mothers in birth, and therefore, who is going to take care of those babies? Let’s keep talking about the things that we know can move the barometer. I think that we can’t deny that we have to make this also a conversation about faith and morals. And right now, the leading discourse on this is that abortion is a morally wrong and we need to shift that. You know, we can say, sure, having an abortion is a moral choice. So we can claim that there, that this is a moral conversation, but abortion in and of itself isn’t a problem. And so how can we help people to understand that for freedom, Christ has set us free. What does it look like for us to be free and for us to work for the full liberation and freedom of all people? Because that’s also very biblical.


Phillip Picardi: Well, on that note, this was wonderful. Thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate it.


Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft: Thank you, Phill.


Phillip Picardi: In my publishing career, I was once told by a mentor that abortion was simply, quote “too hot to handle.” Why deliberately cover reproductive care when we could look away entirely? But it’s that attitude exactly that allows for abortion to be stigmatized and then co-opted by people who get to control the narrative. Reproductive justice is, as our guests today illuminated not as binary as being pro-choice or pro-life, and therefore it’s not as simple as being labeled a sin. And really nothing is. But maybe that’s another conversation for another time. So what happens when, after years of internalizing and evangelizing Catholic messages of pro-life doctrine, a teenager finds herself having to make the very choice she’d advocated against? We’ll hear that story next week. In the meantime, please enjoy this TikTok of a teen reciting the lyrics of Cardi B’s Wet Ass Pussy to an evangelical leader outside of an abortion clinic in North Carolina.


[woman reading the lyrics to Wet Ass Pussy]


Phillip Picardi: Unholier Than Thou is a Crooked Media production. Our producers are Adriana Cargill and Elisa Gutierrez, with production support from Alison Falzetta. The theme song is by Taka Yasuzawa and our executive producers are Lyra Smith and Sara Geismer. Thanks for listening.