Reproductive Justice Curriculum: Session One

What is Reproductive Justice?

Session 1 Learning Goals

  • Gain awareness of relevant Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist history, with successes and shortfalls
  • Articulate contrasting frameworks of reproductive “health,” “rights/choice,” and “justice”

In Preparation

  • Participants are encouraged to bring notebooks or journals for note-taking and theological reflection
  • Materials: masking tape, butcher paper, markers, extra index cards
  • Print out Leader Resource LR 1:4 (PDF) and tape each event onto an index card
  • Stretch a long line of masking tape across the middle of the floor or wall. At one end, write “1840”. At the other, “2012.” Also add hash marks labeled with the years 1860, 1880, 1900, 1920, 1940, 1960, 1980, 2000
  • Make copies of Handouts 1:1 (PDF), 1:2 (PDF), 1:3 (PDF), 2:1 (PDF), and 2:2 (PDF)


Session Plan

  1. Chalice Lighting: &quotTo Be of Use&quot (Marge Piercy)
  2. Introductions (20 min)
    Participants answer the following questions:
    1. Who are you?
    2. How are you today?
    3. Why are you here? (Try to keep it personal and avoid expounding on general opinions)
  3. Overview of Curriculum (5 min)
    Distribute Handout 1:1 (PDF) and highlight themes. Distribute Handout 1:2 (PDF), which is supplemental.
  4. Building a Covenant (20 min)
    The curriculum is designed to ask and answer many difficult questions about reproductive justice predominantly by sharing and listening to stories and with group conversations. Ask participants to offer guidelines on how they agree to come together over the six sessions. If they don’t include the following, add them to the list at the end:
    • Use “I” statements—speak from our own experience.
    • Ask permission before sharing other participants’ stories outside the group.
    • Step-up, step-back. (Be conscious of the level of participation that you bring to the conversation. If you’ve spoken a lot, take a backseat to the conversation for a little while. If you haven’t spoken very much, pipe up.)
    • We will do our best to confront our negative stereotypes and implicit judgments about sexuality, sexual acts, reproduction, and reproductive decisions. We do not know what another’s experience has been, and the dichotomy of “we/they” is false.
    Ask participants to sign the covenant before the end of the session.
  5. Timeline of Unitarian Universalists and Reproductive Justice (35 min)
    Distribute the index cards, shuffled, to the participants. Invite them to take turns reading each event out loud and identifying as a group where the event is positioned on the timeline.
    Participants can use extra index cards to fill out the timeline with other events important to the reproductive lives of their communities.
  6. Comparing Frameworks (25 min)
    Distribute Handout 1:3 (PDF) and ask participants to read the paragraphs aloud. Discuss as necessary.
    Identify some of the events on the timeline with one of the three frameworks. The point here is not to make clear or unequivocal categorizations, but to engage the contrasts of the frameworks.
    • Why are the distinctions between the “choice” and “justice” frameworks important?
    • What would reproductive justice look like in [name of congregation, neighborhoods, city]?
  7. Debrief and Closing (15 min)
    Ask participants to share with the group one new idea that struck them during the session.
    Distribute Handouts 2:1 (PDF) and 2:2 (PDF) and ask people to read and complete them before the next session.
    Play “Yes” by Shekhinah Glory Ministries and extinguish the chalice.