A Truly Fearless Human Being: Rev. Howard Moody, 1921-2012


When Rev. Howard Moody began the Clergy Consultation Service in 1967—the group of 21 New York clergy who referred women for abortions when it was still illegal in every state—he arranged for the clergy involved to attend a demonstration that could teach them what an abortion procedure entailed and what a woman experiences in an abortion. The clergy met with a pathologist who explained the procedure using a life-size model of a woman. The doctor explained carefully when and what kind of pain the woman would feel. Again, this kind of experience drew the clergy into a far deeper understanding of the woman’s experience. Even the least empathetic among the clergy present had to imagine what it would be like to be blindfolded and helpless in the hands of strangers who might or might not know what they were doing. If a higher level of empathy is placing yourself in another person’s shoes, that demonstration put the clergy in a woman’s stirrups.

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