Key Talking Points for UUs on Reproductive Justice
Speaking publicly about critical issues from a grounded theological perspective that also embraces scientific facts is hugely powerful in shaping culture and public dialogue. We invite you to use and modify these talking points when speaking to your family and friends, to the media, in your congregation, or at public events. You also can use them to craft letters to the editor.
- Our Unitarian Universalist faith affirms that all of our bodies are sacred and that we are each endowed with the twin gifts of agency and conscience. Each of us should have the power to decide what does and doesn’t happen to our bodies at every moment of our lives because consent and bodily autonomy are holy. And when disparities in resources or freedoms make it more difficult for certain groups of people to exercise autonomy over their own bodies, our faith compels us to take liberatory action.
- As Unitarian Universalists, we embrace the Reproductive Justice framework, which espouses the human right to have children, not to have children, to parent the children one has in healthy environments, to safeguard bodily autonomy, and to express one's sexuality freely.
- Being forced to carry a pregnancy to term is 33 times riskier than having an abortion, with 0.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 abortions compared to 20.1 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). A 2021 University of Colorado study, found a nationwide abortion ban would lead to a 21% increase in pregnancy-related deaths and a 33% increase among Black women. The CDC notes Black women already are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women.
- We advocate not only for the freedom of those choices in each person’s life journey but also for the ability of all families and communities to realize a sense of wholeness with regard to their sexual and reproductive lives. We strive to create safe and healthy environments for children and campaign publicly for just and compassionate laws for family planning, reproductive health, and gender equity.
- In particular, our faith emphasizes the inherent worth and dignity of all people and the right of conscience in discerning our choices. In other words, we believe that every individual is endowed with the ability to make the best choices for themselves about their own sacred body.
Collectively, our faith calls us to work for a society in which everyone has true autonomy and self-determination, which includes having abundant access to affirming, supportive reproductive care throughout their lives.
- Reproductive Justice must ensure all people have affordable access to family planning education and services. “Rights” without access have little meaning. A justice-focused approach calls us to consider how overlapping identities (gender, race, economic status, immigration status, sexual orientation, and more) help confer or deny human rights.
- State anti-choice laws are inherently classist and racist. People of financial means can simply travel to where reproductive rights are protected, while low-income folks are effectively stripped of equal rights by the State. At least six states are served by just one abortion provider, including Kentucky, West Virginia Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota. Many people already face drives of several hundred miles to consult with clinics providing full services.
- Making abortion illegal does not stop them from happening. While many people now do self-managed abortions safely and effectively, any delays in ending a pregnancy add risk.
- States with the most restrictive abortion laws have notably higher infant mortality rates, so laws “saving” fetuses are causing more deaths of born children.
- Our faith compels us to advocate for the freedom to choose abortion, as well as comprehensive and affirming reproductive health care throughout the lifespan. This includes providing people of all genders and ages with science-based, developmentally appropriate, affirming sex education; contraception and regular reproductive health care; and skilled pre-and post-natal care.
- According to the Guttmacher Institute, the number of abortions in the U.S. fell 19% from 2011 to 2017, and the number of abortions per 100 pregnancies fell from 21.2 to 18.4 during the same period. While there are many variables, the expansion of accurate sex education programs and easily accessible birth control likely play major roles in this reduction. While we believe that anyone should be able to make the decision to choose abortion anytime and for any reason without stigma, anyone sincerely wishing to minimize abortions should advocate for universal access to these resources and family planning services.
- Low-income women are five times as likely (PDF) as affluent women to experience unplanned childbearing and twice as likely (PDF) to face sexual violence.
- State abortion bans are growing more extreme, now routinely denying exceptions to victims of rape and incest (9 of the 12 states that have passed abortion restrictions since 2020, as of May 3, 2022), criminalizing doctors, and authorizing vigilante enforcement through lawsuits.
- Ectopic pregnancy occurs at a rate of 19.7 cases per 1,000 pregnancies in North America and is a leading cause of maternal mortality in the first trimester. Many state laws that will become active if Roe v Wade is overturned have vague language that could delay or deter physicians from treating ectopic pregnancies and other issues for fear of lawsuits or prosecution. Implementing these laws kills some of their patients.