SNEUCC Leaders: Overturn of Roe v. Wade 'Unjust and Dehumanizing '

SNEUCC Leaders: Overturn of Roe v. Wade 'Unjust and Dehumanizing '

The following a letter addressing the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was written by the Rev. James D. Ross II, Minister for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Below that is an opinion piece by Rev. Darrell Goodwin, Executive Conference Minister, that ran in USA Today on June 12.

Dear friends,

I am sorry. I join in the deep sadness, disgust, and disappointment that many feel following today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturns the Roe v. Wade decision and invalidates federal abortion rights.

We have known this was coming, especially following the leaked draft ruling several weeks ago. Still, the reality of it is profound and destabilizing. Because they have approved “trigger laws” that go into effect immediately, states throughout the country have now eliminated or severely limited access to abortion.

This is heartbreaking, of course. It also is unjust and dehumanizing. This strips women of bodily autonomy and access to necessary healthcare. These are fundamental rights which all of God’s creations deserve. Although Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts have all passed laws that codify the legal right to abortion, some questions remain regarding access, and, as the overturn of Roe demonstrates, these legal protections are not guaranteed to remain forever.
Today, I – along with other members of the Southern New England Conference staff and people elsewhere whom neither you nor I even know – hold you in much love and prayer as you process this ruling and all that it means. I pray that you will not lose hope, realizing that, as the prophet Isaiah tells us, our God can make the crooked places straight, “break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.”[1]

I know, also, that the meantime can also be difficult. For me, gathering in community helps in times such as this. Other invitations for engagement will certainly be forthcoming, but here are some immediate opportunities:
  “Here in Rhode Island, although the right to abortion is protected, our state laws decide who can use their health insurance to cover abortion care – and who might be forced to pay out of pocket or carry a pregnancy to term against their will,” the Coalition said in a statement.
“Rhode Islanders deserve better. It is time for action: We demand the General Assembly reckon with unfinished business by passing the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act, ending Rhode Island abortion bans, and helping to ensure equitable abortion access for all. It is the right thing to do.”
However you respond, please be gentle with yourself.
Blessings and power!
Rev. James D. Ross II
Minister for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

[1] Isaiah 45:2, King James Version

The following was included in the article Bracing for a long season of debate': What faith leaders say as US waits for abortion ruling that ran in USA Today on June 12.

As an African American, openly queer faith leader, I am not a stranger to fearing that I will not have rights to my own personhood, particularly rights to the safety and security of my own body. I live in a reality where my body has been historically commodified, questioned, and articulated in the public sphere as disposable. To combat this unjust and unconstitutional disposition laws have been put in place to protect what is often described as my inalienable rights.

Despite these laws, protections, protests, and other acts of uprising, these rights continue to be one legislative act away from being dismantled. I see no difference in the recently heard arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization another direct challenge to Roe V. Wade. Before the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973, women had to rely on inexperienced medical providers to perform risky and life-threatening abortions. I serve as an Executive Conference Minister in the United Church of Christ, where during that period many of our ministers helped to create a network connecting women to doctors who could safely and competently help them. These clergy agreed to break the law and risk their lives to ensure that a woman’s inalienable right to choose was protected.

It is unrighteous that almost 50 years later the same activism is still necessary. Nevertheless, my faith will compel me to take the same actions as those brave religious leaders before me. As a human rights issue, reproductive justice promotes the rights of people to bear children they want to have, to not bear children, to raise the children they do have in safe and healthy environments, and express their sexuality without oppression. Any opposition to this is for me a theological opposition to the scripture that invites all of humanity to “Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.” Micah 6:8

Rev. Darrell L. Goodwin
Executive Conference minister
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