My daughter Liv and I have just returned from Portland Oregon attending the General Assembly there. It was at the same location in Portland in June 2015 that with elation the General Assembly gathered in the plenary hall to celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling guaranteeing marriage equality. This year the General Assembly gathered in shock, fear and anger as the Dobbs decision came down, and took to the streets in defiance, chanting “We will not go back!”, “We do not consent!” and “My body, my choice!” UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick Gray spoke with passion at the rally, speaking for all of us when she said: “I am furious; I am filled with holy fury!” You can read more about the UUA statement and watch Rev. Gray’s speech here.
I know that many of us have had a range of feelings and emotions relative to this decision: anger, fear, sadness, and even despair. While there is much uncertainty ahead, it is clear that the impact of the Dobbs decision will have lasting consequences, the scope of which we are just beginning to grasp and understand.
I was scheduled to fly back on Friday morning and spent the majority of the day in the airport with multiple delays and cancellations, wishing I was still with “my people” in the crowds of Portland. When Liv and I finally touched down in California, it was clear we were returning to a surreal, dangerous, and uncertain new world.
I find myself asking unthinkable questions about the future security of our marriage and privacy rights, for the options of family creation and reproductive technology, for BIPOC, poor, and rural people, for our transgender and gender non-conforming young people’s access to life-saving health care. I am deeply concerned for the people of all genders in 26 states where abortion will now be banned, who will not have safe and affordable access to abortion even in the most dire, abusive, and medically dangerous circumstances. My heart aches at the suffering, anguish, and even death that this decision is already inflicting.
It is in times like these I am so grateful to have our Unitarian Universalist community to turn to one another, to strengthen each other in and ground in our values, and to call us to action.
This anti-choice decision by the Supreme Court infringes on our deeply held religious beliefs. Access to abortion and the right to choose is an issue of gender equality, bodily autonomy, and religious liberty, all of which are long held Unitarian Universalist religious teachings. Our Unitarian Universalist congregations have had a long history of supporting reproductive justice and the fundamental and sacred right of a person to decide how and when they choose to create a family.
As people of faith who believe in choice, our voices, and our votes, matter.
We can take action now, as we continue to understand more about how we may be of service. Here are some critical ways we can support reproductive justice now.
1.Donate to the National Network of Abortion Funds or locally to Planned Parenthood. Living in California, we must support our local providers as they scramble to support the care needs of those traveling across state lines. The best way to do that right now is through donations. We can familiarize ourselves with the cost of services for surgical and pill-based abortion methods to understand how far our donation will go.
2. Tell your abortion or reproductive justice story on social media and in family and community circles. The majority of Americans support abortion, but religious and cultural stigma keeps us from sharing our experiences and normalizing abortion. Telling our stories helps others to feel less alone, raises public opinion for abortion support and widens the national call for the return to safe and legal choice.
3. Participate in our “We Will Not Go Back” Reproductive Justice Sunday on August 28th. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to participate and/ or share your abortion story or passion for reproductive justice as we will explore our theological grounding for reproductive justice and strategize for the work ahead.
4. Support Our Whole Lives at UUCLB. Our Whole Lives empowers our children and young people by providing evidence-based, comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education. UUCLB is a hub for OWL education and is preparing to launch a series of programs next fall and spring. Email Director of Religious Education Naomi Yoshida at email@example.com to volunteer to support the OWL program or donate to UUCLB to provide funds for training and program support. Please add “OWL Support” to designate funding on checks.
5. Join Side With Love’s UPLIFT Action campaign with their three-part Reproductive Justice Congregational Organizing Series. In congregational cohorts and a large group, the series will explore the role of UU congregations in a post-Roe world (Session 1), spend time discerning risk and accessing courage (Session 2), and make an organizing plan (Session 3).
We know that these actions may seem small, but we know we are climbing up a steep hill to reclaim the traumatic losses of the Dobbs decision, and that our efforts will be long and require significant commitment. Together, we can cultivate hope, build power, and join with others in solidarity. Our congregation is ready for action and to join our LA Voice and local interfaith networks who share our call to reproductive justice.
We gathered last week after our Sunday service in Wylder Hall and online to share our thoughts and feelings and to call one another into action. We heard voices from different generations, genders, ages, cultures and life experiences, all united in one message:
We will not go back. We will fight on. We stand ready to help. Our faith, and our church matters.
With faith, love, and the fire of commitment and righteous anger,
Rev. Lissa Gundlach