Mary Jane Maharry
CHICAGO—Today, The Rev. Elle Dowd officially joined the Clergy Advocacy Board (CAB) of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). The CAB leads the organization’s national and local efforts to communicate with religious leaders and communities of faith advocating for access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health care. Members reflect the diverse religious traditions and faith communities across the U.S. that consider reproductive freedom an ethical imperative, including many congregations in the Chicagoland area.
“Planned Parenthood of Illinois is thrilled that Rev. Dowd has joined the Clergy Advocacy Board,” said Paula Thornton Greear, PPIL's Chief External Affairs Officer. “She is a trusted leader in the local faith community in Chicago and a strong advocate for sexual and reproductive health care and freedom. People of faith in Illinois and across the country support reproductive care, including abortion, as an ethical imperative; and we will continue working with our faith partners to promote and provide high-quality, comprehensive health care for all people.”
Rev. Dowd is a bi-furious recent graduate of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and a candidate for ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She was formerly a co-conspirator with the movement to #DecolonizeLutheranism and currently serves as a board member of the Euro-Descent Lutheran Association for Racial Justice. Dowd also does community organizing in her city as a board member of SOUL, writes regularly as part of the vision team for the Disrupt Worship Project, and facilitates workshops in both secular conferences and Christian spaces. She is publishing a book with Broadleaf, Baptized in Teargas, about her conversion from a white moderate to an abolitionist.
"I look forward to representing Illinois on the Clergy Advocacy Board and supporting the work Planned Parenthood does every day. As a faith leader and follower of Jesus, I am reminded in scripture that Jesus provided accessible, life-saving health care to people of all kinds without shaming them,” said Rev. Dowd. “I am passionate about making sure that all people have access to sexual and reproductive care, information, and education, regardless of race, gender, income level, and immigration status. When I was a seminary student I experienced a gap in my health care coverage, and Planned Parenthood was there for me when I needed them. That’s why I am excited to take this active role with PPFA.”
The majority of Americans of faith agree that Roe v. Wade should not be overturned.
According to the Public Religion Research Institute, majorities of most large Protestant groups, such as white mainline Protestants (59%) and Black Protestants (56%), say abortion should be legal in most or all cases. And 70% of people who identify as Jewish, a plurality of Catholics, and the majority of Muslims in the U.S. support legal of abortion as well.
Building on the long history of faith leaders who actively support sexual and reproductive health care, the CAB has been a part of Planned Parenthood for 27 years, working at the national and state levels to further the goal of full reproductive rights and freedom for all people.
Additional new members of the CAB include:
- The Rev. Emily Harden, West Virginia
- The Rev. Tim Kutzmark, California
- The Rabbi Sarah Smiley, Kansas
- The Rev. Katey Zeh, North Carolina
- The Rev. Dr. Rebecca Todd Peters, North Carolina
- The Rev. Elise Saulsberry, Tennessee
- The Rev. Latishia James-Portis, Georgia
- The Rev. Stephen Griffith, Nebraska
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The Rev. Elle Dowd
Photo credit: Hana Shapiro