My letter this week will be controversial, and I know that. As a preface to my letter, please understand that I believe we can disagree about this issue, and many others, and still worship Jesus together. Do not allow my words to push you away from your faith community or the United Church of Christ. We are a “big tent” with all beliefs and opinions offered with respect and a covenant to try to understand.
One of my questions is, how did a confidential memo of a draft of a decision to be made by the US Supreme Court get leaked, who did it, and why did they do it? What happened to the maintaining of confidentiality until a case is heard and a decision is made? Would any of us want a preliminary court decision that affected us to be leaked to the media? Would we want our pastor to breach confidentiality?
These are questions that plague my thoughts as I think about our justice system. How can we move back into trusting our institutions when these leaks begin and spread, continue to affect more and more of the branches of our government?
That being said, I feel compelled to write about the leaked draft of the US Supreme Court decision to repeal Roe v. Wade. Just so you understand, I grew up in an era when Roe v. Wade was not yet law. I read and listened to the stories of women, young and not so young, of all economic and racial backgrounds, who were severely injured by “back alley” abortions, and some who lost family members to these illegal and non-medically monitored procedures. The reality is that repealing Roe v. Wade will not eliminate abortions. It will simply make them tragically unsafe for women, and primarily for women of lower economic and social status.
I believe, as do many of my colleagues, that it is “ the historically economically marginalized populations, including Black communities, people of color and low-income communities are placed in greater harm because they have diminished access to reproductive healthcare.” Access to safe, medically responsible healthcare is essential to protecting the lives of women. We may have differing moral, theological, and religious views of abortion, but this is a country that prided itself on a separation of church and state. There is a tradition of allowing individuals to self-determine. I feel this needs to include their healthcare decisions and decisions about their bodies.
Both women and men have the right to determine the decisions about their bodies. I wonder what might happen if restrictions on women’s bodies were eliminated. I have tried to think of restrictions of decisions on men’s bodies but couldn’t think of any. Why is the right of a woman to choose what she may decide about her own body so different? Why must we regulate what women can choose to do about being pregnant?
Research demonstrates that the abolition of abortion would result in a 21% increase in pregnancy related deaths, and a significant increase in the homicide rate for pregnant women. I, for one, cannot live with that statistic. I cannot live with restricting the choice for women to have control of their own bodies. I cannot dictate to another woman that she MUST carry a pregnancy to term, no matter the risk to her own life, her family or the embryo or fetus she is carrying. I believe as Christians that we are all prolife, some are anti-abortion, and some are pro-reproductive rights.
You may disagree with me, and I welcome a time to talk with you about these issues.
I pray that we can have conversations about our lives, the current situations in our country and the world, and explore how we, as people of faith, move forward to care for all our siblings, but especially those with the deepest economic, medical, and societal challenges.