Rev. Melinda Quellhorst is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and lives in Vermilion with her husband. A member of the Ohio Clergy for Choice network, Rev. Quellhorst has been a strong voice for reproductive freedom throughout her life and her more than 30 years of ordained ministry. As a devoted pastor and a proud mother, Rev. Quellhorst 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 freedom in Ohio? 
I believe that as a person of faith, we are called to make our own choices about what women do with their own bodies. I believe the God that I know wants women to make their own choices about what their bodies need.

How does your faith tradition and spirituality inform your views on abortion? 
My faith tradition and my own spirituality calls for women to make their own choices on abortion — and really on anything that has to do with their bodies. Women are not second-class citizens. We need to be in charge of our own bodies. My faith and my God loves all. 

What can people who value faith and spirituality do to support reproductive health, rights, and justice? 
Standing up for women’s rights and letting women make their own decisions is what we should be standing for. We can write our legislators, pray out loud with our vote, rally, stand together, and march for women’s rights in all parts of the world.

What other ways are you engaging reproductive health advocacy, education, and justice?
I am educating myself, my congregation, and my family about what it means to engage and stand up for women getting to make their own decisions about their bodies.

What do you wish more people understood about the intersection between religion and reproductive health?
I wish people understood that religion and reproductive health are all part of who we are as people who live out our faith — that it isn’t wrong for us to stand as faithful, faith-filled people and to trust women to make their own choices about their bodies. This commitment to religious and reproductive freedom doesn’t go against God’s love for us all but, rather, it celebrates and honors that love.

Do you have a personal story you would be willing to share about faith and abortion?
When I was first starting out in ordained ministry over 30 years ago, a young woman came to me in tears. She had gotten pregnant and couldn’t have the baby, so she went to a clinic to get an abortion. The clinic she went to tried to talk her out of it, but when she persisted, they offered counseling. After making sure she knew what she was asking, the abortion was set up. She came to me after the abortion to tell me what she had experienced. She was afraid that as a pastor I would chastise her and tell her she was wrong. Instead, I hugged her and offered my heart and prayers with hers. She had done what she needed to do for her body. That was not my choice to make — it was hers. I told her God loved her and always would. She had not shared that story with anyone until she trusted me enough to share, and even then she was scared. We have to stop scaring women and love them enough to let them make their own choices about their bodies.