Many UUs have told me how shocked and dismayed they were after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Years of established rights were rolled back by the Dobbs decision. This decision continues ongoing and unpopular efforts to undermine access to reproductive health care, including abortion, making a difficult situation, especially for low-income people, even harder. In this Instagram post, the DC Abortion Fund (DCAF) describes how the overturning of Roe has affected abortion access in DC, Maryland and Virginia – and for people traveling from out of state in search of health care. Olivia C., a DCAF case manager writes,
“Across the board, my patients are tired. They’re tired from trying to find an appointment and figure out how to pay for it, continuing to care for their families throughout the process. For too many, they’re also tired by navigating through abortion bans in their states, which are forcing them to stay pregnant longer than they wanted to be.”
Religious groups, unfortunately, have a reputation for making life decisions harder for pregnant people. Carol Campbell, co-lead for UUCF’s Reproductive Justice Task Force, describes her experience working for Planned Parenthood in the 1990s.
“I recall the day when the Sanctity of Life Ministries (SLM) opened an office directly underneath our clinic. There were several occurrences …when women who had made an appointment with Planned Parenthood inadvertently went to the SLM office. After filling out paperwork and meeting with a ‘counselor’ to discuss their pregnancy options they realized how they had been tricked by SLM.
“Several patients reported the behaviors of the people in the SLM office to us suggesting that they were unprofessional and degrading. Not only would they not discuss pregnancy options but made attempts to shame the women for wanting to discuss all of their options and health considerations. Women arrived at our clinic in a state of alarm and outrage.”
Reproductive freedom – the ability for people to decide if, when and how to raise a family – is part of what it means to live with inherent worth and dignity. UUs can be a rare and powerful faith voice for choice, for the diversity of families, for real freedom. UUs have a track record of supporting comprehensive sexuality education with programs like Our Whole Lives (OWL), and UUCF’s newly formed Reproductive Justice Task Force is finding ways for UUCF members to engage on reproductive justice issues locally.
Carol Campbell also describes her experience at a “Positive Presence” event with our partner REPRO Rising Virginia, showing support for the Falls Church abortion clinic.
“I bonded with like-minded individuals as we held up our signs of compassion across the street. We could see the effects of our work: several employees at nearby restaurants brought us snacks and refreshments in gratitude. People in the clinic waved and cheered us on from the windows as we cheered them on.”
Abortion bans are also an issue in Virginia. Gov. Glenn Youngkin has stated he would seek a ban on abortions up to 15 weeks of pregnancy and Delegate Marie March pre-filed a bill that would define life as beginning at fertilization.
On Jan. 23, the day after the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, members of UUCF’s Reproductive Justice Task Force and I will be joining with REPRO Rising Virginia to advocate for our values with our representatives in Richmond. Buses are available. I’m planning to take the bus in Woodbridge and, if you can make it, I’d love to see you on this trip.
- If you’d like to sign up for the Richmond trip, go here.
- You can find additional reproductive justice and other MLK Month activities here.
- REPRO Rising Virginia Foundation is the UUCF Share the Plate recipient for January. You can give here and select Share the Plate from the drop-down menu.
I look at social justice ministry as an ongoing decision to use our power, in collaboration with others, toward healing and repairing what is broken in society – like a lack of bodily autonomy for people with uteruses or the struggle to raise a family in an often hostile world. Whether or not you can come to Richmond, I invite you to consider how you might help our community thrive. There are many opportunities with MLK Month. You, and whatever you do, are wonderful.