Sherry Warren and Katie Adams
Siblings in Christ, Seekers of Justice
We wish it were not true, but these are not unprecedented times; the right to bodily autonomy is a continual struggle and we’re seeing those rights being chipped away, sometimes bit by bit and sometimes with a sledgehammer. The Dobbs decision which obviated Roe v Wade ushered us back fifty years in abortion access and makes it so people who can get pregnant are unable to make their own choices about their healthcare and future. Reducing people to mere wombs and vessels, rather than fully being seen as people, strips all of us of our collective humanity. The chaos being sowed by legislators who are intent on banning abortion access is intentional and intertwined with the many other limits being placed on the rights of individuals to have authority over their own lives.
The majority of abortions in the U.S. take place using abortion bills. The protocol of a Self-Medicated Abortion (SMA) using Mifepristone and Misoprostol has been approved by the FDA and used for decades as a safe option to end intrauterine pregnancy. Now, access to medicated abortion is under increased scrutiny with Wyoming being the first state to pass legislation to explicitly ban abortion pills. A Texas judge recently suspended the FDA approval of mifepristone, putting access to abortion medication at risk nationally and challenging the authority of the FDA in other approvals. While another judge stayed that decision, this attack on the use of evidence-based, approved, essential healthcare is further disempowering individuals and expanding the overreach of legislators over the bodies and personal agency of people across the nation.
The United Church of Christ’s General Synod has spoken clearly through resolutions in support of all pregnant people being able to make the decisions that fit their values, circumstances, and needs – including abortion. These statements affirm the importance of ensuring access to the full range of reproductive health care regardless of race, religion, or economic status, believing that basic human autonomy is a human right bestowed by God.
We see over the course of the last several months story after painful story of the sad, incomprehensible situations many folks have found themselves in because of restrictive conditions that pregnant individuals and medical professionals are facing. These stories include withheld cancer treatments, people facing medical crises denied life-saving care, and legislators pushing for those who get an abortion to be incarcerated. Additionally, more people are simply being forced to have children by a well-funded legislative push to control reproductive power. Americans are finding their right to live a full life of their own agency undermined and devalued by legislators.
Even though the Supreme Court responded to an emergency request by the Justice Department and has kept access to mifepristone in states where abortion is legal, this decision is not final or necessarily permanent; the litigation continues. Through all of that, we will continue to provide support and witness to all of God’s beloved children, and work with other communities of faith that support compassionate, complete, and accurately presented reproductive healthcare access. Our image of the divine calls us to be bearers of complete and nonjudgmental information about the decision to have children, not have children, raise those children in safe environments, and for all people to control their own bodies and futures.
Sherry Warren is the Minister for Women’s and Gender Justice for the United Church of Christ.
Katie Adams is the Policy Advocate for Domestic Issues for the United Church of Christ.