UU History of Action Defending Reproductive Rights

UUs have a proud history of organizing to establish and defend reproductive rights and advance a broader reproductive justice agenda. The UUA General Assembly passed its first statement supporting the right to choose abortion (with a “compelling reason”) in 1963, and many UUs were active in the Clergy Consultation Service, an underground interfaith network that helped people seeking an abortion get counseling and skilled medical care prior to the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling.

In Texas, the Dallas UU congregation helping lead the resistance to SB8 has championed reproductive rights for decades. In fact, members of the Dallas congregation were party to an amicus brief to the SCOTUS in Roe v Wade, and the UUA was the first religious denomination to formally support a woman's right to choose in 1963.

Rights on paper mean little without access, so the 2010 Affordable Care Act was a vital advancement in Reproductive Justice. UUs were instrumental both in passing and defending the ACA from attacks by corporate and ideological opponents, and UU action included ongoing civil disobedience action as Congress weighed repeal of the ACA in 2017.

The ACA greatly expanded access to contraception, requiring health insurers to cover contraceptive counseling and services without out-of-pocket costs to patients, among other provisions. This was crucial for many lower-income families since the cost of contraception could easily exceed what a minimum-wage worker earned in an entire week.

The UUA also led the way among faith organizations in advancing framing from abortion rights to Reproductive Justice, endorsing the concept at the 2012 General Assembly and selecting the issue as the Congregational Study/Action Issue for 2012-2016, culminating in the 2016 Statement of Conscience “Reproductive Justice.”

We affirm that people of various gender identities can and do become pregnant, and therefore the UUA frames Reproductive Rights as rights for all people. Where we reference “women,” it’s because the source data was specific to women. Minimal research has been done to assess nonbinary people and men seeking abortion care, which is itself a justice concern.