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February 14, 2012


[In Honor of Ragsdale Week] One for the Archives: Katherine Ragsdale’s ‘Abortion is a Blessing’

Katherine Ragsdale, whose “abortion is a blessing” speech has punctuated the depths of depravity to which Episcopal Divinity School - and, in a larger sense, much of the wider Episcopal Church - has sunk, pulled that text from her web site some time in the last 24 hours or so. As CJ points out it’s still up (for the moment) at the NARAL site, but there’s no telling how long it will remain there.

So here’s one for the archives - The Rev. Katherine Ragsdale’s “Abortion is a Blessing” speech. Remember, this woman was appointed unanimously by the board of Episcopal Divinity School as its president and dean.

Remarks of the Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale

Birmingham, AL
July 21, 2007

Well Operation Save America came, they saw, they harassed, and they annoyed; but they did not close the clinic. The clinic stayed open, no patients were turned away, and the doors never closed. We remain victorious. And that victory is a good thing – but, make no mistake, even though OSA has gone home; our work is not done.

If we were to leave this park and discover that clinic violence had become a thing of the past, never to plague us again, that would be a very good thing, indeed; but, still, our work would not be done.

If we were to find that, while we were here, Congress had acted to insure that abortion would always be legal, that would be a very good thing; but our work would not be done.

If we were suddenly to find a host of trained providers, insuring access in every city, town, village, and military base throughout the world, that would be a very good thing; but our work would not be done.

When every woman has everything she needs to make an informed, thoughtful choice, and to act upon it, we will be very close; but, still, our work will not be done.

As long as women, acting as responsible moral agents, taking responsibility for their own lives and for those who depend on them, have to contend with guilt and shame, have judgment and contempt heaped upon them, rather than the support and respect they deserve, our work is not done.

How will we know when our work is done? I suspect we’ll know it when we see it. But let me give you some sure indicators that it isn’t done yet:

- When doctors and pharmacists try to opt out of providing medical care, claiming it’s an act of conscience, our work is not done.

Let me say a bit more about that, because the religious community has long been an advocate of taking principled stands of conscience – even when such stands require civil disobedience. We’ve supported conscientious objectors, the Underground Railroad, freedom riders, sanctuary seekers, and anti-apartheid protestors. We support people who put their freedom and safety at risk for principles they believe in.

But let’s be clear, there’s a world of difference between those who engage in such civil disobedience, and pay the price, and doctors and pharmacists who insist that the rest of the world reorder itself to protect their consciences – that others pay the price for their principles.

This isn’t particularly complicated. If your conscience forbids you to carry arms, don’t join the military or become a police officer. If you have qualms about animal experimentation, think hard before choosing to go into medical research. And, if you’re not prepared to provide the full range of reproductive health care (or prescriptions) to any woman who needs it then don’t go into obstetrics and gynecology, or internal or emergency medicine, or pharmacology. Choose another field! We’ll respect your consciences when you begin to take responsibility for them.

- Here’s another sign. Did you notice the arguments that were being shouted at us in front of the clinic? They’ve been trying for years, and seem to be pushing especially hard now, to position themselves as feminists – supporters of women. You heard them – yelling that they understand that it’s all men’s fault. That men must do better at supporting women and children so that women, presumably, won’t feel the need to abort. They yelled that they understood that the women going into the clinic had been hurt by men and were reacting to that pain and betrayal. They pledged to help men be more responsible so that women wouldn’t want abortions.

Let me tell you something. Any argument that puts men alone at the center – for good or for bad—any discussion of women’s reproductive health that ends up being all about men, is not feminism. Nor, for that matter, is it Christian, or reflective of any God I recognize. And as long as anyone can even imagine such an argument, our work is not done.

- And while we’re at it, as long as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States can argue, as Justice Kennedy recently did, that women are not capable of making our own informed moral decisions, that we need men to help us so that we won’t make mistakes that we later regret; as long as a Supreme Court Justice can deny the moral agency of women simply because we are women – and can do it without being laughed off the public stage forever – our work is not done. What has happened to us that he could even think he could get away with publishing such an opinion? Our work most certainly is not done.

- Finally, the last sign I want to identify relates to my fellow clergy. Too often even those who support us can be heard talking about abortion as a tragedy. Let’s be very clear about this:

When a woman finds herself pregnant due to violence and chooses an abortion, it is the violence that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.

When a woman finds that the fetus she is carrying has anomalies incompatible with life, that it will not live and that she requires an abortion – often a late-term abortion – to protect her life, her health, or her fertility, it is the shattering of her hopes and dreams for that pregnancy that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.

When a woman wants a child but can’t afford one because she hasn’t the education necessary for a sustainable job, or access to health care, or day care, or adequate food, it is the abysmal priorities of our nation, the lack of social supports, the absence of justice that are the tragedies; the abortion is a blessing.

And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion – there is not a tragedy in sight—only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.

These are the two things I want you, please, to remember – abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

I want to thank all of you who protect this blessing – who do this work every day: the health care providers, doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, who put your lives on the line to care for others (you are heroes—in my eyes, you are saints); the escorts and the activists; the lobbyists and the clinic defenders; all of you. You’re engaged in holy work.

Thank you for allowing me to join you in that work for a few days here in Alabama. God bless you all.


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32 comments

I had a dear friend in college who was impregnated by rape.  I know she’d say that it was an awful choice to face, not a blessing.

[1] Posted by elanor on 4-2-2009 at 06:07 PM · [top]

May God have mercy on her soul. May He have mercy on all of us that have brought His church to such a pitiful and dispicable place.

[2] Posted by mateoclemente on 4-2-2009 at 06:09 PM · [top]

This woman is very sick..!

speechless!

Seraph

[3] Posted by seraph on 4-2-2009 at 06:17 PM · [top]

#1 elanor thank you for that down to earth, humane perspective.
Ragsdale says, “there is not a tragedy in sight” for elective abortion, she is throwing over the specific language of the “nuanced” GenCon resolutions, several of which carried a phrase such as, “all abortion has s tragic dimension.”
Her message is monstrous on its face, but at a more trivial level she is a traitor to the church, even at its most muddled and moderate.

[4] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 4-2-2009 at 06:18 PM · [top]

Here is another prime candidate for EDS.  Do they have any provost positions open?
http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2009/04/suicide-a-marvellous-possibility.html

Ludwig Minelli, head of Dignitas, the assisted dying clinic in Switzerland, believes suicide is a ‘marvellous possibility’ and that the mentally ill should not be dissuaded from killing themselves. It would save the NHS such a lot of money if they succeeded, he told BBC Radio 4. This man has helped more than 40 Britons to kill themselves. Now that the dark, ugly underbelly of his agenda has been exposed, let’s pray that the only suicide he has assisted this time is of the campaign to legalise euthanasia. Read on for the full interview on Today, transcribed for me by City journalism student David Christopher.

[5] Posted by AndrewA on 4-2-2009 at 06:18 PM · [top]

Heh- beat me to it, AndrewA - look on the front page.

[6] Posted by Greg Griffith on 4-2-2009 at 06:19 PM · [top]

The cached copy of Katie Rags’ site is here:

http://74.125.93.104/search?q=cache:t3ECT1FUF-kJ:ragsdalesermons.blogspot.com/+Katherine+Ragsdale+Sermons+work+not+done

The sermon’s the third one down.

[7] Posted by Christopher Johnson on 4-2-2009 at 06:40 PM · [top]

Her remarks about how physicians and pharmacists shouldn’t be permitted to exercise a “conscience clause,” and in fact should simply “choose another field” of vocation sure make this MD feel the love.

Say what you will about the Roman church, they’ve managed to maintain a consistent pro-life witness and doctrine.  TEC seems quite happy to shill for Moloch.

[8] Posted by Joshua 24:15 on 4-2-2009 at 07:16 PM · [top]

I tried, but could not bring myself to read the whole sermon the other day.  What is wrong with the church?  How can anybody even consider allowing this woman to have a role in the formation of clergy?  It positively makes me ill.

[9] Posted by terrafirma on 4-2-2009 at 07:42 PM · [top]

Disgusting. Absolute heresy in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, in every religion I know of (except the Yanomami of NE South America, but they also practiced systematic infanticide). But then, since she isn’t really a priest at all her approbation means nothing. It’s just too bad that people think she is a cleric, which she never was. EDS deserves her.

[10] Posted by A Senior Priest on 4-2-2009 at 07:48 PM · [top]

God have mercy!
It’s one thing to suggest that abortion at times may be the lesser of the evils in a fallen world. Or, even that abortion should be kept legal, safe, but rare.

I have never heard anyone state over, and over again that abortion is a blessing, even in the context of a loving, committed relationship basically for reasons of convenience.

It’s heartbreaking.

[11] Posted by Grace2000 on 4-2-2009 at 07:56 PM · [top]

It is interesting that Katherine Ragsdale, whom I call Josefine Mengele, has taken down her “Abortion is a blessing” cheerleader chant from her blog.

Perhaps she has an ounce of shame inside her yet.  Maybe for a split second she was embarrassed.  Shame and embarrassment are natural emotions for non-psychopaths when they have done something wrong, like saying tearing apart a baby limb from limb is a blessing from God.

Or maybe, like CJ suggests, she is just a coward and afraid of the bad press a strange looks from the vast majority of humanity who understand the depravity of seeing “abortion as a blessing”.  Maybe she is afraid of bringing further embarrassment to her church, whose pews are still mostly populated with normal people.

DoW

[12] Posted by DietofWorms on 4-2-2009 at 08:36 PM · [top]

Jesus - open the eyes of this woman to her sin.  Lord all of your children are precious - it is not up to us to play God - You breathe the very breath of life into our nostrils, Lord.  Help us to consider life as preciously as You do - enough so You sent Your only Son to die for our sins - to become sin so we can be with You.

[13] Posted by B. Hunter on 4-2-2009 at 10:01 PM · [top]

Pure evil.  Who would entrust their children to this woman?

[14] Posted by Marty the Baptist on 4-2-2009 at 10:28 PM · [top]

14,
The same mamas and daddies that would kill their own unborn children for pleasure’s sake and call it a blessing?

[15] Posted by Bo on 4-2-2009 at 11:21 PM · [top]

Another lion for their lord, whoever that may be.  Abortion is a blessing, her work is not done!  Shout it from the mountaintops Katie!  (and hide it if you get too much heat for it.)  I ask the simple question:  What is she afraid of?  She was a unanimous choice.  She supports EVERYTHING EDS stands for.  I’m glad she’s exposed as another weasley weasel from Weaselville.  She is the perfect head for EDS.

[16] Posted by Bill2 on 4-3-2009 at 06:36 AM · [top]

I Saw Satan Laughing With Delight!
He Comes to Bring DEATH, and DEATH more abundantly.
Satan is alive and active in TEC.
DDD

[17] Posted by drdeatkine on 4-3-2009 at 09:07 AM · [top]

The Holy Spirit has left the building.

stacy kramer

[18] Posted by JerryKramer on 4-3-2009 at 10:56 AM · [top]

yuck

carrie

[19] Posted by cityonahill on 4-3-2009 at 11:31 AM · [top]

#12, unfortunately by her own admission, the reason Ragsdale took down the post is not because she is ashamed of the sermon.  No she stands by it.

She is too annoyed by all the comments she is getting criticizing her for it.  No joke.  And she can’t figure out how to turn the comments off on her blog.  See the SF entry above.  Just unbelievable.

[20] Posted by Karen B. on 4-3-2009 at 02:55 PM · [top]

I read her speech.
Disgusting. I don’t even know how to respond.
I guess I’ll pray and let the Holy Spirit formulate my prayer, because this is too deep for words.
It makes me want to weep.

[21] Posted by mightymike on 4-3-2009 at 07:19 PM · [top]

Karen B. Ragsdale knows how to turn off comments on her blog, she has comments turned off on two of her other ones, and due to the fact that there have been no comments going back for quite a while, one can assume that lying about her lack of ability to do so. The blogging site she uses makes it very easy to shut comments off, the option is right there in one’s account panel.

[22] Posted by mari on 4-3-2009 at 07:33 PM · [top]

Absolutely stunning. I beg anyone who remains in TEC, to show this to everyone you know who also chooses to stay. Don’t worry, I’m not going to say anything about when or how or if you should leave, but this is just beyond belief, I’m almost sick to my stomach. There is great spiritual oppression—if not possession—in some quarters of the Church, and this is a prime example. I’m going to show this to my wife, who has chosen to remain in TEC for now. Thank you Greg for shining a light into a most gloomy and horrible corner of the church.

[23] Posted by DavidSh on 4-4-2009 at 12:05 AM · [top]

Never never never in the church should abortion be a choice. If there ever was a time when the church should step in and be a loving shelter it would be now. The church should never allow a woman to feel she has no alternative. For all of us who believe in the power of God knows he can change mourning into joy

[24] Posted by bkj on 4-4-2009 at 07:11 PM · [top]

This speech brings shame upon the Episcopal Church. Someone should send Rev. Ragsdale a copy of Lime 5 and make sure she reads it. I’d like to see her give that speech in front of a group of mothers who have been injured by legal abortion or their survivors in the case of death. She sounds like a paid lobbyist for the abortion industry than a woman of God.

[25] Posted by Joanne on 4-15-2009 at 11:01 PM · [top]

Would it have been a blessing if Ragsdale and her ilk had been aborted?

[26] Posted by Dave B on 2-14-2012 at 12:41 PM · [top]

23.  DavidSh, I know that there are people remaining in TEC who are appalled that their Church supports abortion but who haven’t, for one reason or another, demanded that this support cease immediately.  How anyone can remain a part of any Church which supports the killing of the unborn and claim to be a Christian is absolutely beyond my understanding.  I encourage such people to raise a hue and cry against this practice, and to do what their conscience tells them to do….what Christ would tell them to do.

[27] Posted by cennydd13 on 2-14-2012 at 02:17 PM · [top]

She’s from Jerry Seinfeld’s Bizarro World.  Everything is upside down and backwards.  You say “hello” when you leave, and “goodbye” when you arrive.

This speech is refelctive of all liberal/gay/neo-pagan thought.  The Self is elevated to the status of Divinity, and nothing shall stand in the way of self fulfillment at the cost of all else.  How else could one conclude that abortionists are saintly?  They remove barriers to self fulfillment.

The irony is that once these people get what they want—when feminists abort their unborn babies in order to achieve professional success, or when gays “marry”—the self fulfillment they sought steadfastly and elusively remains out of reach.

Back to the drawing board.  Again.

[28] Posted by DaveW on 2-14-2012 at 02:39 PM · [top]

Every time I’ve heard or read excerpts from this train wreck of a speech, it seems to boil down to what my kids kept saying when they were like 5 or 6 years old:  “I don’t wanna.”

It is the elevation of “self” above all.  I want to have sex with whomever, whenever I want.  I don’t want there to be anything that gets in the way of how I want to enjoy my life.

When was the last time we ever heard an Episcopal clergy person, outside of maybe South Carolina, Albany, or Dallas speak about the negative spiritual or psychological effects of being promiscuous?

[29] Posted by Bill2 on 2-14-2012 at 04:32 PM · [top]

Almost two years later, I still see no evidence that God is leading her in her journey. I still pray for the students, faculty and staff at EDS - especially for their spiritual welfare, and that God will open their eyes and ears, so that can see who their dean actually is. I still pray for her.

[30] Posted by Ralph on 2-14-2012 at 06:01 PM · [top]

Psalm 94 was up for Evening Prayer, and I couldn’t help but think of the current administration’s “health” policy, the judges who rule by fiat, the irresponsible congress and their religious collaborators like the Dean of EDS:

20 Can a corrupt tribunal have any part with you,one which frames evil into law?
21 They conspire against the life of the just and condemn the innocent to death.
22 But the LORD has become my stronghold,and my God the rock of my trust.
23 He will turn their wickedness back upon them and destroy them in their own malice; the LORD our God will destroy them.

[31] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 2-14-2012 at 07:26 PM · [top]

“Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.”

It seems that Rev. Ragsdale is as capable of rabblerousing as any fundamentalist preacher ever was.

[32] Posted by Betty See on 2-17-2012 at 03:43 PM · [top]

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