I am generally very reluctant to drag religion into polite conversation; I find that the conversation quickly becomes un-polite. I'm making exceptions today - because SFP asked, and because my personal faith makes it important.
I considered digging up statistics and citing lots of research to try to make an argument here. The statistics and research are out there, and frankly, the big picture is bleak, which drove home to me exactly why the topic of women's reproductive rights is so important.
I was raised Catholic: the doctrine on birth control and abortion were made pretty clear. To a young girl - it was simple to accept. Even as a teen, sex was something i wanted but still viewed as sinful - I was weak, contraception was necessary, but a defeat, a giving in to my weakness.
But the flavor of Catholic i was raised with also taught me to question and follow my conscience, not blindly follow doctrine. Eventually that helped inform my thinking about sex and sexuality as well. Like an awful lot of other people, i recognized that i believed the church was just plain wrong on this one. Over time, i saw that the church wasn't just wrong, it was also oppressive and causing harm.
I have relatives who were crushed under the imperative of having children when they weren't ready, only to be abandoned by their husbands, the childrens' father. My mother has a very serious condition. Each pregnancy and delivery became more dangerous for her, yet the church encouraged her to continue to accept "God's will." My grandmother was eventually able to convince her to use birth control, to take that step to preserve her own life, but i'm not entirely sure my mom ever forgave herself for it.
It's about much more than an individual woman's freedom to chart the course of her own life by giving her the ability to have children or not have children with intention and thought. Taking that freedom from all women collectively damages the whole society deeply, just as systematically denying any portion of a group the rights of the whole damages the whole.
It is also incredibly naive to think that the reality of access to birth control, like access to all forms of health care, applies evenly across our society, or much of the world for that matter. It doesn't. The disparities are enormous, and that becomes a powerful force, a powerful weapon in some cases. Women struggle to raise children, often in poverty, and those children grow up with very different opportunities than others. The disparities become perpetuated across generations and the divisions among the groups that make up the society as a whole become deeper. This is played out across the globe.
In the end, whether reproductive rights for women are denied through religion, legislation, systematic inequality of access - or a toxic combination - it is a dangerous thing for women, and thus for all of us.