AME Church Deacon Wants Black Preachers to Talk About Contraception and Abortion from the Pulpit


As a member of the clergy, I’ve heard many sermons on a wide range of social and political topics, from voting and the problems of the prescription drug industry to unemployment to the latest outrageous statement from politicians.

One topic I haven’t heard? Safe and affordable access to contraception and birth control.

It makes perfect sense that Black churches would speak about this specific reproductive issue, because for Black women, reproductive health disparities are stark. Black women are the most likely to deliver children who won’t live to see their first birthday. Black women are also more likely to experience unintended pregnancies than their White counter parts due to poverty. We are also more likely to experience unintended pregnancies, and family planning is a biggest predictor of the health of the mother and the child, and is key in decreasing the high infant mortality rate.

The bottom line? Safe, affordable access to contraceptives and abortion and significantly help a pastor’s community.

Week after week, Black women are sitting in pews personally impacted with reproductive health disparities. Our congregants need our support — the support of trusted clergy members– to speak out and fight for access to contraceptives and safe abortion access.

Black churches have always been the place for people to come talk about issues important to them. In my home state of North Carolina, the Moral Monday Movement strategy meetings are held in the free space of the churches. Pastors recruit members from the pulpit to attend the marches and explain why it’s important that the voting public appeal to the North Carolina General Assembly to reverse legislation that impacts our community. And it worked! Clergy and laity alike have shown up in droves to the Moral Monday protests demanding change from our legislature. Religion has been the central theme of the movement, and congregants are proud of their pastors leading the demonstrations.

One might argue that pastors should not talk about contraceptives and abortion because it would make people uncomfortable, and it would have to force us to talk about sex. But we must not be silent anymore because the numbers are clear: reproductive health disparities affects women in our pews, and attacks on women’s health nationwide will affect health outcomes of women in our congregations.

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Emma Akpan

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