Reproductive Justice Curriculum: Session Four

Reverence for Life

Session 4 Learning Goals

  • Engage with various religious perspectives on life, pregnancy, and each perspective’s claim to modern religious persecution
  • Confront historic and current attempts to use abortion as population control
  • Reflect on sources of Unitarian Universalist and personal theologies of reverence for life

In Preparation

  • Materials: pencils and paper for written reflection, butcher paper and markers, masking tape, bell or chime
  • Write these questions on butcher paper:
    • What from this tradition resonates with me?
    • What from this tradition is challenging to me?
  • Make a sign reading “Agree” and one that reads "Disagree"
  • The Power Shuffle can elicit strong feelings or reactions. If possible, ask a minister or lay chaplain to sit in on this session and be available to someone if they leave the activity for emotional reasons.
  • Print a copy of LR 4:5 (PDF) for yourself.
  • Make copies of Handouts 4:3 (PDF), 4:4 (PDF), and 5:1 (PDF).

Homework for this Session


  • 4:1 (PDF)—Margaret Sanger, Birth Control, and the Eugenics Movement
  • 4:2 (PDF)—Reproductive Technology and Ableism
  • 4:3 (PDF)—Religious Perspectives on Life
  • 4:4 (PDF)—Theological Reflection: Session
  • LR 4:5 (PDF)—Instructions for Power Shuffle

Session Plan

  1. Chalice Lighting: “On Children” (Sweet Honey in the Rock)
  2. Check-In: What was one thing you did for your body this week; what is one thing your body did for you? (15 mins)
  3. Religious Perspectives on Life (20 mins)
    Distribute Handout 4:3 (PDF) and have participants read each section out loud. If any participant is familiar with a tradition listed, they are encouraged to read that section. After each section is read, participants reflect to themselves or journal on these questions:
    • What from this tradition resonates with me?
    • What from this tradition is challenging for me?
  4. Theological Reflection (20 mins)
    Participants are invited to explore various methods of theological reflection: walking/ movement, small group conversation, journaling/writing, and meditation. They are also invited to bring music and headphones. Indicate the separate place for those who will participate in small group conversations. Distribute Handout 4:4 (PDF). After 20 minutes, ring a bell to call the participants back together.
  5. Power Shuffle: Life and Choices (45 mins)
    Using Leader Resource 4:5 (PDF), the facilitator will read a series of statements about life, personhood, contraception, and abortion. In reaction to each question, participants place themselves along the masking tape line between “Agree” and “Disagree” signs, depending on how they react to the statement. People can choose an “I don’t know” or “Ambivalent” response by standing in the center of the room, but they are encouraged to take a position other than the center, and/or to change to a different location as they are moved. The facilitator can invite participants to share their thinking after each statement is read or they can postpone conversation and reflection until after the group resumes their seats at the end of the exercise.
    After all the statements are read, invite the group to resume their seats. Take down the “Agree/Disagree” signs and open the floor for reflection and discussion. If some participants are introverts or non-verbal processors, offer a separate quiet space for them to use while the rest discuss.
    Towards the end of the conversation, ask these questions:
    • Why is reproductive justice concerned with ableism and eugenics? Are there other ways that abortion and “choice” has been used as a tool of reproductive oppression?
    • Why is “personhood” an important conversation in the movement for reproductive justice?
  6. Debrief and Closing (15 mins)

    Ask participants to share with the group one new idea that struck them during the session.

    Distribute Handout 5:1 (PDF) and ask people to read it before the next session.

    Read “Merger Poem” by Judy Chicago and extinguish the chalice.