Atheists versus religious fundamentalists. That's the main stereotype of the abortion debate in the U.S. today: as though there are two stark camps, pro-choice and pro-life; one opposed to God, one fighting for him.

In reality, of course, people’s views on whether abortion should be legal are far more complex, and so is religion’s role in the conversation. There’s no single “religious position” on the issue, whether you’re talking about among faiths or within them – and plenty of reproductive rights activists draw conviction from their traditions.

Samira Mehta, a scholar of gender, religion and sexuality at the University of Colorado Boulder, unpacks the diverse ways a number of different religious traditions think about abortion – emphasizing that when it comes to how people live out their faith, leaders’ official stance is just one part of the story.

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Molly Jackson

Religion and Ethics Editor

Demonstrators stand outside the Supreme Court in 2014. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

There is no one ‘religious view’ on abortion: A scholar of religion, gender and sexuality explains

Samira Mehta, University of Colorado Boulder

Views on abortion differ not only among major religious traditions, but within each one.

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    “I was lucky enough to have done an apprenticeship on the same newspaper as Peter Arnett as a cadet journalist and when he returned for a visit sometime about 1967 he showed photos of the damage napalm and many other destructive bombings... Saying that the above photo did not have anything to do with the end of the Vietnam War is in itself a fallacy. It was definitely the catalyst for a huge increase in anti war protestors and that in turn forced the USA and its allies to abandon the corrupt South Vietnam government.”

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