- Episcopal priest based in Massachusetts
- Was a featured speaker at the 2004 “March for Women’s Lives” in Washington, D.C.
- president and chief executive officer of the National Abortion Federation
- Claims that that “abortion is a blessing”
- Says that “abortion providers are some of my personal heroes and modern-day saints”
Born c. 1959, Katherine Hancock Ragsdale is an Episcopal priest based in Massachusetts. She earned an AB degree in English and Religion from the College of William & Mary in 1980, a Master of Divinity degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1987, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Episcopal Divinity School in 1996. In 1996 as well, Ragsdale edited the book Boundary Wars: Intimacy and Distance in Healing Relationships, wherein people of varying backgrounds – e.g., mental health professionals, clergy, theologians, ethicists, a lawyer, a historian, academicians, nonwhites, and LGBT individuals – discussed the important role of boundaries in healthy human relationships.
Over the years, Ragsdale has served variously as a staffer with the Episcopal Church Center’s Office of Women in Mission and Ministry (1989 to 1993); a vicar (priest) at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Pepperell, Massachusetts (April 1995 to June 2009); executive director of Political Research Associates (May 2005 to June 2009); president and dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts (July 2009 to July 2015); interim senior fellow at the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations (November 2015 to February 2017); a partner with RNL Associates, LLC (July 2016 to present); interim president and chief executive officer of the National Abortion Federation, or NAF (September 2018 to October 2019); and full-time president and chief executive officer of NAF (October 2019 to present).
Ragsdale also spent 17 years on the national board of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), formerly known as the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights. According to Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests For Life and president of the National Pro-Life Religious Council, RCRC “actually provides rites of blessing for parents about to kill their children, and for the facilities in which the blood is shed.” It also provides “Scripture studies that attempt to say exactly the opposite of what Scripture says about what God thinks of the shedding of innocent blood,” Pavone states.
In April 2004 Ragsdale was a featured speaker at the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C., a massive demonstration that focused overwhelmingly on the need to preserve and expand women’s unrestricted right to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand.
During a 2008 rally outside an Alabama abortion clinic, Ragsdale declared that “abortion is a blessing.”
On January 1, 2011, Ragsdale, who is lesbian, married another female Episcopal priest, Mally Lloyd.
In an April 2019 speech at a fundraiser for the Kentucky Reproductive Freedom Fund, Ragsdale claimed that the Bible says nothing about abortion, and that it is wrong to describe a developing fetus in the womb as a “baby.” “’One inch from life,’ they say while showing a picture of a Gerber baby,” Ragsdale said of pro-life advocates who oppose the late-term procedure commonly known as partial-birth abortion. “Apart from ‘one inch from life’ being a lie, the Gerber baby image is a lie. And actually, using the word ‘baby’ is a manipulative lie.”
In August 2019, NAF launched a prepaid-gas-card program for women needing to travel significant distances in order to access abortion procedures. “Travel-related assistance is a service that shouldn’t have to be provided,” said Ragsdale. “Unfortunately, due to the anti-abortion bans and medically-unnecessary anti-abortion restrictions [in some states], politicians have made it impossible for many to obtain the care they need. We’re here to do something about it.”
Upon taking the reins from her predecessor, Vicki Saporta, as the new full-time president and chief executive officer of NAF in 2019, Ragsdale said: “Abortion providers are some of my personal heroes and modern-day saints. It is an honor to be able to serve and support NAF members as they provide compassionate health care amid increasing attacks and challenges.”
In addition to her work with NAF, Ragsdale also sits on the national boards of NARAL Pro-Choice America and The White House Project, and on the bi-national advisory board of The Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence.
Further Reading: “Katherine Ragsdale” (LinkedIn.com, Rewire.news, Women’s Media Center); “Lesbian Priest Tapped To Head Major Abortion Group, Calls Abortionists ‘Modern-Day Saints’” (Daily Wire, 11-6-2019); “Lesbian Episcopal ‘Priest’ Named New Head of National Abortion Federation” (LifeSiteNews.com, 11-5-2019); “Abortion Group Announces Prepaid Gas Card Program to Help Cover Travel for Women Seeking Procedure” (Fox News, 8-14-2019); “The Very Reverend Katherine Hancock Ragsdale Named President & CEO of NAF” (ProChoice.org, 10-30-2019).