Ana Kasparian on her viral pro-choice video and why religion and politics should remain separate

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24 2022, social media quickly erupted, and a video of journalist Ana Kasparian’s impassioned pro-choice speech resurfaced. In the clip from 2018, Kasparian is talking with her co-host on The Young Turks, when he mentions the Bible’s stance on abortion. Visibly frustrated, Kasparian shoots back with her take on the role religion should play in reproductive rights.

‘I don’t care that you’re a Christian, I don’t care what the Bible says,” Kasparian says in the viral video. “You do not get to dictate how I live my life based on your religion.”

Today, Kasparian stands by the comments she made in 2018. She says that Americans are taught to fight for religious liberty, and she takes issue with a single belief system carrying so much weight in a political conversation.

“What the religious text of one particular faith indicates does not apply to the rest of the population in a country that has Constitutional protections against church and state," Kasparian tells Yahoo Life. “Once we get into the weeds of what the Bible permits, we’re allowing them to frame it as if their particular religion rules us all, and I’m sorry, our Constitution says the opposite of that.”

“Even as an atheist, I support people of faith. I think that it's an important part of their lives, an important part of their communities. And I would never in any way want to violate that."

After Roe v. Wade was overturned, Kasparian felt a range of emotions.“Once it really sunk in, I felt an overwhelming sense of rage, just this anger and rage, and also embarrassment on the international stage,” says Kasparian. “What we're seeing with this rapid fire round of terrible rulings that chip away at our rights, that intentionally misinterpret what our constitution says — I think we're in for a lot of pain and suffering unless we somehow persuade the Democratic party to grow a set and fight on behalf of the people who put them in this position of power to begin with.”

Video Transcript

ANA KASPARIAN: All those women who identify with your religion have every right in the world to not get an abortion, but they do not have the right to dictate my life.

Once we get into the weaves of what the Bible permits, we're allowing them to frame it as if their particular religion should rule us all. And I'm sorry, our Constitution says the opposite of that.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: I'm Brittany Jones-Cooper, and welcome to Unmuted. Today, I'm joined by Ana Kasparian, a political commentator and journalist who shares her views on the YouTube channel, The Young Turks. You don't mince words. You say how you feel on your show. So does that feel empowering at this moment to be able to use that platform?

ANA KASPARIAN: I've been with TYT since 2007. It's been a little over 15 years where I've been hyperfocused on political news. How I feel resonates with a lot of people across the country, women certainly, with what we're experiencing right now with our reproductive rights being taken away. And I think the platform I'm on does provide both an opportunity for me to get the truth out there, but also it just helps therapeutically.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: Your passion feels good for me to watch. I love watching somebody get as mad as I am. After the Roe v Wade news came, the video of you from 2018 started going viral.

ANA KASPARIAN: I don't care if you're Christian. In fact, I will fight for you to have your religious liberty and practice your Christianity. I don't believe in Christianity, which means that you do not get to dictate the way I live my life based on your religion.

It's resurfaced a few times. It was in the context of a conversation that me and my co-host were having about yet another anti-abortion bill that was being proposed in a red state. What was going through my mind in that moment was just this frustration over the fact that we have this idea of what America is supposed to be, where we support and fight for religious liberty which even as an atheist, I believe in. And I would never in any way want to violate that right.

However, I would expect the same courtesy in return. But we don't get that. What the religious texts of one particular faith indicates does not apply to the rest of the population in a country that has constitutional protections against church and state. And I think the passionate way in which I expressed that is what's led it to go viral so many times.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: Obviously, reproductive rights are something that people have been aware of for years. And we've kind of seen this moment coming on June 24. We all found out that Roe v Wade would be overturned. How did it make you feel?

ANA KASPARIAN: Once it really sunk in, I felt an overwhelming sense of rage and also embarrassment on the international stage. And what we're seeing with like this rapid fire round of terrible rulings that chip away at our rights, that intentionally misinterpret what our Constitution says. I think we're in for a lot of pain and suffering unless we somehow persuade the Democratic party to fight on behalf of the people who put them in this position of power to begin with.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: That pain and suffering, that's something that women know. Our grandmothers and mothers are the ones who originally fought for this. And I'll be real with you, I didn't even think something like Roe v Wade could be overturned. How do you think our generation needs to fight differently?

ANA KASPARIAN: I think it's important to understand the history of the anti-choice movement in this country. It was actually a response to segregated private schools losing their tax exempt status. A right wing evangelical by the name of Paul Weyrich decided-- listen, we need to find a way to build a broad right wing coalition of religious leaders in order to build and accumulate political power. And what he used to galvanize religious voters was the abortion issue. And he did it through intentional misinformation, fear mongering about what happens during the procedure.

And really, what's behind it aside from wanting political power, is wanting to control the lives and bodies of women. When you don't get to make decisions about your own body, you automatically become a second-class citizen. In the background, you have this well-funded right wing machine strategizing and ensuring that they would get to where they are today, where they have all these institutions set up in a way to ensure that they get the advantage. Things don't move in the direction of progress automatically. Everything needs to be fought for. And the rights that we have need to be maintained by continuing that fight. We need principled, aggressive, young politicians to fight for us. It's time to be super aggressive in accumulating the power necessary to protect people's rights.

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