Reproductive Justice Initiative
While we’ve suspected this day was coming for years, its arrival is still cause for concern, grief, and anger. We know that people at All Souls, and in Unitarian Universalism overall, have different beliefs, experiences, and feelings about abortion. That’s OK! The goal of Unitarian Universalist organizing for reproductive justice is that all people can make decisions and access healthcare according to their own values, which includes both having children and not having children. The reproductive justice framework also affirms that everyone has the right to bodily autonomy, and to raise children in safe and sustainable communities.
With this broader framework in mind, it is all the more important that we recognize the larger context. The assault on abortion access, on transgender equality, on voting rights, on racial justice generally—these are all interconnected. They are part of an extremist ideology that divides people into worthy and unworthy, with race, gender, and gender identity as key variables in who should have access to resources. This kind of thinking was explicitly rejected by our Unitarian and Universalist ancestors, and we must join with other people of faith and goodwill across the country in rejecting this oppression today.
As Rev. Keithan said in his sermon on June 19:
While it may be tempting to launch into a rapid response after the Dobbs decision is announced, I want to share the perspective being articulated by black-led reproductive justice organizations, as well as SACReD, the Spiritual Alliance of Communities for Reproductive Dignity, a new national faith- based organization that All Souls and I are helping to launch. It is to name clearly that this is not a situation where rapid response will meet the need. This is a situation where deep, long-lasting commitment is needed. We got here because the far right has been working to overturn Roe for nearly 50 years.
Part of the work we need to do is political advocacy and organizing, yes. Rather than doing an action immediately after the decision, which so many other groups are going, All Souls is going to hold an education and organizing event in mid-July on working for reproductive justice. We’re already doing a lot, have plans to do more, and could use more people who are willing to commit to leadership.
Stay tuned for an announcement about the date and time of this gathering. And plan to attend worship on Sunday July 3, where eight other Unitarian Universalist congregations will join All Souls for worship.
Rev. Keithan will address the decision then as well, and has a special announcement about the Reeb Project and our plans for voter mobilization this year. In the meantime, you can find out where rallies and events are happening via Bans Off Our Bodies.
We look forward to continuing our shared work for the liberation of everybody and every body.
Traci, Bill, Kathleen, Rob, and Louise
PS: Click here to access the Unitarian Universalist Association’s 2015 Statement of Conscience on Reproductive Justice.
Dear All Souls,
This letter was written by Rev. Keithan, All Souls Minister of Social Justice, but the ministry team of All Souls wants you to know that we share in your outrage, your concerns and commitments. Please know we are with you and will continue to advocate a fight for justice.
We know that many of you are concerned—or downright outraged!—by the content of the leaked draft decision concerning the challenges to Roe v. Wade currently before the Supreme Court. We also know that not everyone at All Souls—or in the Unitarian Universalist community broadly—has shared views on the issue of abortion. That’s OK—All Souls and Unitarian Universalism are strong enough to hold moral complexity and differences of opinion. Moreover, this is one of the core democratic principle at stake in these cases: will people have the ability to make personal healthcare decisions according to their own beliefs and values, or will some states be able to oppose a single minority opinion on everyone, regardless of the consequences?
The leak of the draft decision has brought unprecedented attention to these issues. At the same time, it simply confirms what we’ve known for years—that the extreme right has a clear strategy for overturning Roe v. Wade. It is also critical to understand that the Roe v. Wade decision does not guarantee access to abortion—it simply places limits on the restrictions that states can impose. Many Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, and people with low incomes, have always lacked sufficient access to abortion care. A rollback of Roe will make that worse, of course, but many frontline organizations have been calling attention to the lack of real access for years, with little mainstream attention or support.
All Souls is actively engaged in working for reproductive health, rights, and justice—and has been for many decades. We hosted a birth control clinic before they found their own space. We had a partnership with a local healthcare organizations to provide funding for abortion care for people with low incomes. We’ve worked and witnessed for local change and national change. And we will continue to do so. We believe that the best way to impact change is to get involved with the ongoing, long-term work that is already in progress.
Currently, the All Souls Reproductive Justice Initiative partners with the DC Area Abortion Practical Support Network (DAPSN). DC is likely to see a tremendous jump in patients traveling to our area in the coming months. If you can occasionally provide rides, housing, be a walking escort to and from appointments, or provide other support for patients in need, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also partner with our local abortion fund, DCAF, dcabortionfund.org. DCAF makes grants to patients—our neighbors in Washington as well as those traveling from other jurisdictions—who cannot afford the full cost of an abortion. The Reproductive Justice Initiative has also advocated for full-funding of DC’s Birth to 3 Initiative. If you want to learn more about our Reproductive Justice Initiative, send an email. And see below to learn about a class on reproductive justice that starts tomorrow, May 5.
Also, All Souls Church is a founder and leader in a new national interfaith project called the Spiritual Alliance of Communities for Reproductive Dignity, or SACReD. Rev. Rob Keithan serves as co-chair of the Interim Steering Committee, and congregant Tracy Zorpette is a key leader in the communications working group. SACReD has released a short statement about the leak of the possible Roe decision, as well as a longer piece entitled “A Progressive Faithful Response to the Loss of Roe–and More” (click the orange button for that). The latter provides some broader context for both the problems and solutions, and it includes a section specifically for white people about avoiding the White Savior Complex.
Register Now for New Curriculum
on Faith Support for Reproductive Freedom
All Souls Church is one of the founding sponsors of a new national organization called SACReD, the Spiritual Alliance of Communities for Reproductive Dignity. The mission of SACReD is to empower congregations to become loving, justice-seeking faith communities that fully support the fulfillment of reproductive moral agency and flourishing for all. SACReD has developed a curriculum to help participants deepen their understanding of the connection between faith, racism, and reproductive ethics, and to identify strategies and actions for liberation within religious communities and the larger world.
Given that the Roe v. Wade decision hangs in the balance–and that many people have never had meaningful access to reproductive healthcare–it is a critical time to learn and to act. We will have participants from All Souls as well as other faith communities in DC, and we hope you’ll join in! Seven sessions all on Zoom, Thursdays from 7:00 – 8:30 PM: May 5, 12, 19, 26; June 2, 9, 16. Participants are required to attend at least 5 of the 7 sessions including the first one. There is no charge, but space is limited. Please register here.
We will never go back.
Revs. Keithan, Rolenz & Green
The All Souls Reproductive Justice Initiative’s mission is to love, empower, respect, and care for people in our church and in our community as they make their own choices about their bodies, their sexuality and childbearing, and as they strive to raise children in safe, healthy, supportive communities.
What will our faith-based reproductive justice initiative contribute to the movement?
The All Souls Reproductive Justice Initiative centers the needs of cis-women and girls and trans*/non-binary people whose autonomy and bodily integrity are the focus of continuing and escalating attacks from political and religious forces on the right. The group currently focuses efforts in the following areas:
- Build a faith-based network for reproductive justice in the nation’s capital.
- Make a difference to people in need in our community by engaging with our neighbors, partnering with local organizations around the core tenets of reproductive justice, and caring for and supporting those working in the repro movement.
- Establish All Souls as an reproductive justice congregation by examining the needs of our own members, employees, and educating our congregation about the reproductive justice framework. We will support members who have had reproductive health issues such as abortions, miscarriages, stillbirths, difficult pregnancies or infertility issues. We will look at how our community supports families and promotes healthy sexuality and bodily autonomy.
What is reproductive justice?
The reproductive justice framework was created in 1994 by a group of black women in Chicago and is rooted in the histories of reproductive oppression and abuse in communities of color and marginalized communities. The core tenets of reproductive justice include the human right to (1) have children, (2) not have children, (3) raise families in safe and healthy environments, and (4) maintain bodily autonomy and express sexuality free from oppression or shame.
How does it differ from other movements addressing reproductive issues?
Reproductive health focuses on service delivery, while reproductive rights addresses legal issues. Reproductive justice focuses on movement building, and how the intersection of people’s identities and lived experiences are impacted by systems of oppression or power dynamics that lead to reproductive oppression. Reproductive justice encompasses a more nuanced and intersectional approach to addressing reproductive health and rights issues than the typical pro-choice movement offers, one rooted in human rights, anti-racism, and economic justice.
Past Activities Include:
- A pastoral care workshop on reproductive decision-making and loss
- Abortion clinic escort training
- Partnering with the DMV Abortion Practical Support Network and DCAF (DC Abortion Fund)
- Hosting Monica Simpson of SisterSong
- Hosting a panel on key repro justice issues in DC
- Partnering with La Clinica del Pueblo for a vigil and march against domestic violence and supporting their Entre Amigas program
- Encouraging the All Souls board to adopt a policy of contributing towards health benefits for dependents of employees