Responding to the Potential Overturn of Roe v. Wade

Responding to the Potential Overturn of Roe v. Wade

Ministers on the SNEUCC staff will be participating in a social media campaign highlighting their support for reproductive rights over the coming days.  Ministers from across the Conference are invited to participate:

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The following statement was written by the Rev. James D. Ross II, Minister for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

This week’s news that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision is devastating, and we invite clergy and members to join Southern New England Conference staff and our national partners in conversations about how we can effectively respond at the state and federal levels. 

The overturn of Roe after nearly 50 years would significantly limit women’s access to necessary medical care, negatively impact people seeking to make the family planning decisions most appropriate to them, and undermine bodily autonomy. The decision would most dramatically impact women of color, poor women and other women unable to travel from their homes to places where they can legally obtain abortion care. The ruling also could endanger rights that resulted from other Supreme Court decisions, including those that most directly impact lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, warn some people, including President Joe Biden.

This roll back of the right to abortion care is only the most recent attack on human rights for members of vulnerable communities. We are compelled to respond on behalf of women directly impacted by this decision as well as for other communities that that are experiencing restrictions on their freedom. 

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team is organizing a webinar during which we will invite staff from the national setting of the United Church of Christ to provide information about what is happening at the federal level, the work the national staff is undertaking, and how we can support those efforts. Webinar participants will then be invited into state-specific breakout rooms to talk about the circumstances and opportunities to engage in their states.  

We are working to put this gathering together as quickly as possible to support individuals in engaging with state elected officials during the current legislative session, where appropriate. Please watch for updates in the coming days. 

Even before the most recent news, we had begun conversations with the Rhode Island Council of Churches and the Rhode Island Religious Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, which are working to re-convene clergy who joined them in legislative advocacy prior to the COVID pandemic to pass a 2019 bill that codified the right to abortion in the state. The Rhode Island legislature is now considering a bill that would increase access to abortion, especially for low-income women, as some insurance providers and Medicaid do not currently pay for the medical procedure. For more information or to join those efforts, please contact Rev. Eugene Dyszlewski. Rev. Dyszlewski is a UCC-ordained clergy person who serves as president of the Rhode Island Council of Churches and co-chair of the Rhode Island Religious Coalition for Reproductive Freedom. 

Massachusetts passed a law in 2020 to codify abortion rights. In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont reasserted on Tuesday that he plans to sign into law House Bill 5414, which was approved by both legislative chambers in April. That bill also would “protect medical providers and patients seeking abortion care in Connecticut who may be traveling from other states that have outlawed abortion. Additionally, the bill expands abortion access in Connecticut by expanding the type of practitioners eligible to perform certain abortion-related care,” Lamont said in his statement. 


A draft of the decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, in which the Supreme Court heard arguments in December, was leaked Monday. It indicates that the majority of justices are prepared to uphold a Mississippi ban on abortions that occur after 15 weeks of pregnancy.  

The ruling would be a dramatic departure from the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, which found that it is unconstitutional to deny access to abortion before a fetal is viable outside the womb, which is typically about 24 weeks of pregnancy. Without Roe, there would be no constitutional right to abortion, and each state would be able to establish its own laws regarding access to abortion. States throughout the country are poised to ban or severely limit access to abortion. 

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons



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James D. Ross II

The Rev. Ross leads the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team. He also provides support and leadership within the Conference, our churches, other settings of the United Church of Christ, and the communities where we live, worship and work to ...

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