There Is No Longer An ‘Unless.’ There Is Only a ‘But.’
Trigger warning: this blog concerns the SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
States can’t regulate guns, but, by all means, be our guest, they may regulate women, say the religious extremists cloaked in their judicial gowns.
I learned about the overturning of Roe v. Wade yesterday, right before my last presentation to the adults at Fortune Lake Lutheran Camp.
As I stomped, infuriated, through the grass to the class, I could barely collect my thoughts around Process Theology, the topic at hand.
Yesterday’s drive home and this early morning have been spent trying to wrap my thoughts around our nation’s goose-steps, those marching simultaneously back through the years to the days of dead and wounded women post-illegal abortion, and toward increasing fascist control of not just women, but of anybody and any body outside the idolized white heterosexual cisgender male norm.
I’m somewhere in the zone of lament, lambasted curse words, and coalescing energy of enraged, engaged dissent.
It’s a familiar place, having spent most of the previous President’s tenure there, but here I am, dusting off the space after the all-too-brief, and, in fact, illusory general reprieve.
Process thought—a philosophical and religious perspective with deep connections to scientific theory as well—teaches that every moment is connected to every other moment; the past shapes but does not determine the present or the future; the future is not fixed but informed by the past and present; and we are both influenced by and can influence other moments yet to come.
As of yesterday, we have a Moment, I’ll tell you what.
We now have a moment in which not only does the future of women’s autonomy seem bleak.
It is bleak.
Because of this SCOTUS decision—and because of people who voted to put far right conservatives into power—women will die, poverty will increase, racial disparities will break open all the more widely, prisons will bloat, children will suffer, and women will lose economic power, individual autonomy, any hope of equality and freedom—ironic at the hands of those who wrap themselves in a mantle stamped with a patently warped understanding of the word.
There’s no “unless” here, now.
Already states have moved to block access to abortions, not only putting into motion the possibility of, but, in some instances, already causing, everything I just described and more.
Politicians who sling the term “Pro-Life” but vote against gun legislation, universal health care, increasing the minimum wage, climate legislation, taxing the rich, and vote for the death penalty, immigration restrictions, a reduction in social network benefits for the Least of These, and gerrymandering districts, they own this moment.
Those who didn’t vote at all or voted Republican own this moment.
Religious traditions which speak about a narrow and niche-marketed definition of pro-life but do not speak about poverty, racism, inequity, and patriarchy own this moment.
Denominations which have statements supporting abortion rights but which fetter their rostered leaders from boldly teaching them and/or which remain silent to “meet everyone where they are” own this moment.
And we all will own the consequences.
There is no mollifying, panacean ‘unless’ in this moment.
Nope, not a one to be found.
There is, however, a ‘but.’
This collection of forgone moments, you see, has brought us to our present one in which many options we had had are now cut off—there is, as I say, no ‘unless.’
But new options are now before us—there is, though, a ‘but.’
Some moments invite us to sally further down the road to authoritarianism, apathy, and Fox News.
But other moments beckon us to register people to vote, to set up or join networks of support to women needing abortions in states now outlawing them, to sign up for the encrypted communication app Signal (www.signal.org), to announce far and wide your deep support for women’s autonomy, to cradle women who are traumatized by this ruling, and to send a portion of your tithe to the likes of Planned Parenthood (www.plannedparenthood.org) and Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (https://wrrap.org).
The past, you see, is the past.
SCOTUS already took women’s autonomy away.
The present is now.
Women’s autonomy is effectively erased.
As it turns out, though, the future is also now.
The State, the black-gowned characters out of the Handmaid’s Tale, and those who enabled them, own this moment.
They think they own women’s bodies, too.
But they have neither need nor right to own the future.
Now is the moment to change the future.
Companies which have asserted their willingness to support their female employees who need to access abortions are found here: please support them.
A few religious responses to yesterday’s ruling, including three denominations with which the ELCA is in Full Communion: please encourage them.
Bishop Eaton, on behalf of the ELCA. “As we live into this new legal framework, we can respond to and minister in the current situation, for instance, by ministering to individuals who seek abortions; advocating for laws that provide free or affordable health care, child care and education; providing and promoting sex education; continuing to be a community of discernment where thoughtful and diverse perspectives can be shared and heard; and advocating for state laws that provide legal, safe and affordable abortions, and against legislation that would outlaw abortion in all circumstances…”
Bishop Michael Curry, on behalf of the Episcopal Church. “The Episcopal Church maintains that access to equitable health care, including reproductive health care and reproductive procedures, is “an integral part of a woman’s struggle to assert her dignity and worth as a human being” (2018-D032). The church holds that “reproductive health procedures should be treated as all other medical procedures, and not singled out or omitted by or because of gender.” (2018-D032). The Episcopal Church sustains its “unequivocal opposition to any legislation on the part of the national or state governments which would abridge or deny the right of individuals to reach informed decisions [about the termination of pregnancy] and to act upon them.” (2018-D032). As stated in the 1994 Act of Convention, the church also opposes any “executive or judicial action to abridge the right of a woman to reach an informed decision…or that would limit the access of a woman to safe means of acting on her decision.” (1994-A054).
The court’s decision eliminates federal protections for abortion and leaves the regulation of abortion to the states. The impact will be particularly acute for those who are impoverished or lack consistent access to health care services. As Episcopalians, we pray for those who may be harmed by this decision, especially for women and other people who need these reproductive services. We pray for the poor and vulnerable who may not have other options for access. We urge you to make your voice heard in the way you feel called but always to do so peacefully and with respect and love of neighbor.”
Suffice it to say, to the women who are suffering and traumatized by yesterday’s ruling and the future that appears to be unfolding, to those who have had abortions, to those who are contemplating an abortion, to those who will need an abortion one day and might not be able to access one, I see you, and I am here to support you in every way that I can.