Rev. Julie Cory is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and lives in Kent with her husband. A member of the Ohio Clergy for Choice network, Rev. Cory’s support for reproductive freedom has roots in the compassionate care that her father —an OB-GYN — provided throughout his distinguished career in Central Ohio. Rev. Cory offers her reflections in this exclusive interview conducted by Ohio RCRC Faith Organizer Rev. Terry Williams. 

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As a person of faith, why do you support reproductive choice in Ohio? How does your faith tradition and spirituality inform your views on abortion? 

Abortion, prenatal health care, birth control, preventative screenings – for some reason these have become hot topics in today’s world. There are so many sides of so many issues that it can be hard to even begin to discuss them. As an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I see this as a unique opportunity for the church and also as my responsibility to engage in these difficult discussions. As such, I look at this issue from both a personal and a pastoral perspective. 

I believe that all women deserve the best medical care possible. This was a core belief that was passed down by my parents, and it formed my thinking from a young age. Both my mother and father affirmed to my siblings and I that our bodies were our own and that we needed to make informed decisions about our own bodies.

My father was an OB-GYN for almost 60 years in the Columbus area. His career included long stretches of volunteer work at Planned Parenthood and the establishment of a women’s clinic on the east side of Columbus, where women could receive affordable prenatal care. He also worked for 10 years for the State of Ohio, seeing and treating women at the correctional facility in Marysville. 

He believed strongly that access to affordable preventative and prenatal care is a right all women (not just some) should have. He also believed that women should have agency over their own bodies and that women are able to decide what is best for their own reproductive health.  

What other ways are you engaging reproductive health advocacy, education, and justice? And what resources do you find most helpful in this work?

In my role as a pastor, my understanding of scripture and my understanding of restorative justice as an alternative to punishment and shaming informs my views on this issue. It has been my honor over my years of ministry to have heard the stories of women and their families as they have struggled with the difficult and intensely personal issue of abortion. The decision these women ultimately make is one that is incredibly difficult for them. Rarely is this decision made lightly, and they deserve our care and concern — not our condemnation.

What can people who value faith and spirituality do to support reproductive freedom? And what do you wish more people understood about the intersection between religion and reproductive health?

It is through the practice of restorative justice that I think the church can enter into discussion on this often divisive topic. The church can be a place of healing and wholeness, offering options for support and care for those who make hard decisions about their reproductive health. Too often we see the issue as only two-sided without taking into account the many different aspects of a woman’s decision when it comes to having an abortion. The church has a unique opportunity to be a place of openness and welcome to all when it comes to issues surrounding a woman’s right to have agency over her own health care — and my prayer is that it will be so.