Thank God for abortion. Since its conception and zygote stage, I’ve been following the art project, Thank God For Abortion, created by artist Viva Ruiz as they have instigated a global movement disrupting both the perceived conservative religious monopoly on abortion as well as the respectability politics of the religious left to dance around the issue.
Thank God for Abortion is not designed to make church folks feel comfortable. It’s deeply resonant with queer and poor and working class folks. The artist describes every piece of art as a “tool” to normalize and destigmatize abortion, taking space for the people who have had multiple abortions and feel great about it. Viva speaks about being a living testimony and receiving the stories from so many people just by being loud. People respond usually one of a few ways: stunned and can’t find the reaction, or they love the project, or they demonstrate hatred tinged with potential violence.
Thank God for Abortion (TGFA) is not a project with caveats and circumstances and “what ifs” but a radical acceptance of abortion as a healthcare procedure readily available for all people seeking care. It is not a movement led by cis white women with class access but by queer and Black and Brown working class folx of all gender expansiveness naming and claiming Abortion Access as something we can expect to be “legal, safe, and free.”
From Mexico to Poland to the Vatican to New York to Texas and Ohio, TGFA has been calling and leading a religious movement that refuses the shame and oppression that have so long permeated abortion access, claiming a liberative God as present in all moments of choice, saying/singing in an explicit music video, “God is cool with me, she says, Girl you know I love you, God is cool with me, she says; Girl you know I gotchu.”
Thank God for Abortion is a project which that has saved lives. And while many progressive faith folks are finding their way again in a movement made more and more urgent by anti-abortion laws like SB8 in Texas; offering vigilantes bounties on people who get abortions, and the more radical HB480 proposed in Ohio banning abortion outright and adding in the option for bounty-hunters, I can’t help but name awe at the projects that claim and take space and proclaim the gospel in radical and wonderous ways, under the leadership of those who are the most and multiply oppressed. Such proclamation is a radical act of faith.
Thank God for Abortion is queer theology as defined by theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid, shocking people out of their complacency to recognize God in a new way. TGFA allows us to experience the wonder of an expansive God who loves us all, just as we are.
Rev. Dr. Chris Davies serves as the Minister and Team Leader for the Faith Education, Innovation and Formation (Faith INFO) ministry team in the national setting of the United Church of Christ. She is also on the board at Preterm, an independent abortion clinic in Cleveland, OH.