Good morning beloveds! I am so grateful to be with you today even as I wish we could all be together in each other’s presence on the steps of the capitol, chanting, singing, cheering, praying, joining hands and hearts in solidarity with women and allies across the country to defend our reproductive rights!
I am the Rev. Sara LaWall. I am Unitarian Universalist Minister (or UU for short) serving the Boise UU Fellowship. I am here representing a great cloud of faithful witnesses, interfaith clergy and leaders and lay people who represent the moral force of religion fighting to protect and advance reproductive health, choice, rights and justice. In fact this morning, prior to the rally in Washington DC, the day began with a faith service reflecting the many voices of people of faith longing for reproductive justice.
But just to be really clear, I am not the only faith leader in Idaho who believes in reproductive justice and abortion rights, there are plenty of us.
Unitarian Universalists have been on the frontlines of abortion justice for decades, beginning in 1963 when our General Assembly passed the first Statement of Conscience upholding abortion rights. That resolution included these words: WHEREAS, the laws which narrowly circumscribe or completely prohibit termination of pregnancy by qualified medical practitioners are an affront to human life and dignity. And since 1963 we have passed 20 statements and resolutions affirming abortion rights and reproductive justice. Roe vs. Wade found an early welcome and support, forging its case in the basement of the Dallas UU Church.
Our clergy were part of the early Clergy Consultation service, pre Roe, that supported women who needed abortions, They were not only UUs but methodists, baptuists, UCC, congregationalists, presbyterians, Lutherans, and yes, even some catholics! We are everywhere and we will not stop praying for justice, access, self-determination, and our collective thriving of which abortion justice is a crtical part.
For far too long, the conservative religious right has coopted the narrative of what religious freedom and family and love and health care mean or look like in our community. It is a narrative of control of patriarchy of white supremacy where one’s “choice” is determined by a privileged few with little regard for lhe lived experience of those impacted by those narrow views.
I am here to remind all of you, weather you are religious or not, that they do not claim the authority on religious values! Religious freedom means upholding the human and constitutional rights of all people to exercise their conscience to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions without shame and stigma.
In my tradition our Universalist theology centers on the belief that we all share the same destiny; that all are worthy of love and dignity. Full Stop. To put this in clearly religious terms, God loves people who have abortions. Full stop. God loves all people. God loves you. And if God is not your jam, please do hear that you (all of you, all our siblings and beloveds) are still held, still divine, still beautiful and holy; deeply loved and worthy, just as you are.
I am of the generation that has grown up in the post Roe v. Wade era. I have been so thankful and so proud of this accomplishment for women by women to claim the right to choose our own reproductive path. I have been blessed to have amazing role models paving the way and breaking glass ceilings, for me and my peers to make greater strides in economic equality and freedom. And yet, I’ve also watched, alongside all of you, as our rights and our bodies are continually subjected to political maneuvering and moralizing—largely by men. Our bodies continue to be under attack every year whether it is closing clinics, requiring waiting periods and ultrasounds, or ridiculous and hurtful statements about rape, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
When state governments seek to close planned parenthood clinics, or deputize citizens to become de-facto abortion police out of a narrow, moralistic view of “protecting life,” whose lives are left unprotected? Who is shut out when the only available low income health clinic is forced to close its doors? Those with already marginalized identities, for whom healthcare access and abortion access is already too complicated, underfunded, and often neglected alotgether.
My colleague, the Rev. Rob Keithan, director of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice writes, “Reproductive Justice requires us to see the bigger picture of who has access to resources and who doesn’t––and why. It calls us to understand how overlapping identities affect the lives of individuals and communities. It calls us to see the world not only through our eyes, but through the eyes of people on the margins. What does it mean to actually have a choice?” I am so honored we get to experience the fullness of that picture today.
In addition to all of these truths, perhaps one of the most important ones in my life is that I am also here today as the proud parent of a trans youth. I have witnessed first hand the critical value of health care rooted in an ethic of freedom, personal choice, health, safety and above all love. And I am indebted to the healthcare professionals supporting my daughter to live her best, most authentic, healthy life.
Reproductive choices are deeply sacred choices that honor life, honor freedom; honor dignity and religious liberty. And Abortion justice is for all of us--for our freedom over our own bodies, our own health care, our own identities. May it be so. Amen, Amen, Amen. Say it with me: Amen, Amen, Amen!
Thank you and bless you all!