Pastor John Pavlovitz Pens Abortion Rights Apology to Daughter

A pastor has penned an apology to his 12-year-old daughter after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

John Pavlovitz, who has been a pastor for over two decades and is known for writing from a liberal Christian perspective, wrote in a post on his website about his struggle to speak to his daughter about the court's stunning reversal of the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, which is expected to lead to the procedure being banned or restricted in about half the states.

"Every time I try to find the words to talk about this to you, they jumble all together, swelling up and getting stuck in my throat," Pavlovitz wrote in the post on Sunday. "Tears quickly well up in my eyes, and all I can manage is a barely audible, 'I'm sorry.' I am. I am so very sorry. I'm sorry for America. It has failed you."

Pavlovitz told Newsweek that he and his wife have spoken to their daughter and their 17-year-old son about the news. "We have done our best to help answer her questions and to assuage her fears without placing too much emotionally upon her shoulders," he said.

People protest outside Supreme Court
A pastor penned an apology to his daughter after the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade. Above, people protest in response to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling in front of the Supreme Court on June 24, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

In his post, Pavlovitz described how he had spent his life believing the United States "would never go backwards, only forwards" and that there were enough "good people" to stop the "terribly ugly things of our past from becoming our terrifying present."

"I was wrong," he wrote.

"When your mother and I chose to bring you into this world, we never dreamed that you would spend a second of your life without the elemental freedoms over your body, over your decisions, over the care you receive from doctors."

He said as parents, they knew their daughter would face the challenges of living in a country "that still offered so much resistance to your progress, so many caustic messages about your self-worth, so much opposition to your full equality—but this... this was unthinkable."

Pavlovitz placed blame on "opportunistic people who sacrificed your choice on the altar of their phony religion" for stripping away rights that had endured for almost a half-century.

"I wish I could rewind and help change even one small thing that would give you a different nation and a different day to wake up in today," he wrote.

Since he can't, he made his daughter a series of promises.

"I will never stop fighting for you," Pavlovitz said. "I will spend the resources I have to make sure the place you call home becomes more deserving of you. I will never back down from awkward conversations with our families. I will never hold my tongue in a crowd of strangers."

He concluded by once again apologizing to his daughter for "the way [America] has so grievously let you down," adding that he was also sorry for the church "we once called home and for the way it dehumanized you" and for relatives and friends "who chose their tribalism over your choices."

"I'm sorry that I was not louder or more involved or more aware of the danger," Pavlovitz said. "Most of all, I am sorry to you and to every daughter in this nation who had no choice in being born here or calling it your home, and now do. You deserve better."

Pavlovitz told Newsweek that his post was aimed at expressing the "collective sadness" felt in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"The vast majority of this nation is not aligned with the Supreme Court's decision and we stand in opposition to it, because we understand the slippery slope to theocracy it represents, the way it disproportionately targets already vulnerable and historically marginalized people," he said.

He added that it has been "especially heartbreaking" to see the way the evangelical church has "weaponized the narrow issue of abortion while having virtually no pro-life concerns beyond the birth canal."

Americans, religious or not, share the belief that women "should have autonomy over their bodies and we're going to keep fighting together for that," he said. "People of faith, morality, and conscience are being catalyzed into activism in this moment, which is always the redemptive response to the assault on human rights."