Clergy with signs speaking out in support of reproductive rights at Planned Parenthood's Good Friday rally (2017)

Abortion Access as a Moral Decision: The Real “Pro-Life” Movement

A Letter From the Executive Director


In the past week, we have seen extreme anti-abortion bills passing in state legislatures across the United States—a move that many believe is a strategy to bring these bills to the US Supreme Court in an effort to overturn Roe v. Wade.  And while so often the “abortion debate” boils down to the Right screaming about morality, while the Left shoots back angrily about rights, I believe it is essential that progressive religious people take the time to learn how to speak thoughtfully and deeply about abortion as a spiritual, religious, and ethical issue.  

Here is my version:

As Unitarian Universalists, our faith loudly declares that life is sacred, and that all people—including and especially those whose bodies are carrying pregnancies—have personal sovereignty, and the inherent right to make moral and ethical decisions about what happens to their own bodies.  Just like choosing to give birth and/or parent a child, abortion is a deeply personal spiritual and moral choice that an individual makes within the complex context of their life circumstances–and our faith affirms that one of the primary sacred sources of spiritual understanding is our own direct experience.  In other words, each of us are the best experts in our own lives, about our own choices and our own bodies.  This is why many of us speak of ourselves as Pro-Choice.  

When politicians and religious zealots speak in favor of banning abortion, but ignore ecological apocalypse, the public health epidemic of gun violence, the reality of family separation and babies in cages at the border, mass incarceration, the ever-increasing disparities in health and income and education for people of color, and so many more issues that directly curtail the ability of human life to flourish, they are showing that their stance on abortion is not about supporting human life at all–it is about allegiance to power and control over the most marginalized among us. 

Our Unitarian Universalist faith, however, compels us to struggle together to bring into being a world in which all people have access to the resources required for wellness and flourishing.  Affordable housing, education, medical care, freedom from violence, access to sustainable healthy food, right relationship with the earth–our movements to bring these resources into the hands of our already-living human siblings and for those who will be our descendants are the true Pro-Life movements.  

In this moment, when so many of us are feeling fear and rage about the threats to abortion access in our country, let us remember once again that everything is interconnected.  We can and should struggle in the courts and the legislature to keep abortion safe and legal, but we must also continue to work for an end to white supremacy; to patriarchy and misogyny; to extractive capitalism; to colonialism of the earth, of communities, and of individual bodies.  

Keep fighting for life, beloveds, in all these ways.  I believe that we will win.

In faith, 

Ways to support abortion access today:

Photo: Minnesota clergy gather in support of abortion access and reproductive freedom at the 2017 Planned Parenthood Good Friday Support Rally.

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