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CHOICE/LESS – Mindy Swank: How Could You Treat Women So Poorly in the Name of God?

Jenn Stanley

Mindy Swank grew up in a conservative Baptist family in Illinois. Her mother worked in the church, and she considered the other parishioners to be like family. They went to church three to five times a week, and per their church’s teachings, they were staunchly “pro-life.”

“I was so pro-life that I thought women should just die rather than abort their babies,” Mindy told Rewire.

Then at age 24, already a wife and mother, she got pregnant again. Unfortunately, Mindy developed serious complications during her pregnancy that threatened her future fertility—and her life. With a son at home who needed her, she realized she didn’t want to risk dying to save an unviable pregnancy.

“Once [people in my church] knew I wanted a termination, they would tell me I was a horrible person,” Mindy said. “That I should just trust God, and if that meant I died, I should just be happy with that.”

Her church community ostracized her. Even her own mother thought that she should trust God and risk death rather than terminate the pregnancy. Unfortunately, the Catholic hospital she was being treated at seemed to share that sentiment, and denied her care based on the church’s ethical and religious directives.

Mindy told Rewire that the ordeal changed her entire worldview.

“Why do people who say that they love God, and are kind people, and doing Jesus’ work, why do they treat a woman like me so terribly?”

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Tune in next week to hear more about religious imposition laws, protections granted in the Affordable Care Act, and how the Trump administration could threaten gender equality in health care. 

Transcript (pdf)