Wherein Lies Some Hope
Colleague UU minister Meg Riley, who serves our Church of the Larger Fellowship, has been sending out morning conversation starters to her CLF Monthly Theme Discussion Group around this month’s theme of hope. Where are the sources for us, personally, and for an especially battered world in 2015? One of them was the hope she finds in teamwork, the strength of collective power—as she wrote—collective joy.
In this period between Thanksgiving (and an earlier than usual Hanukkah observance) and the day late this week—or next week—when many but not all of us knock off for the duration, Congress is still meeting, court cases are being prepared. There is little time to slack and much to fear for the future of true reproductive justice, access to the choices and services necessary to turn personal decisions into reality.
The notion of immensely hopeful teamwork came up for me as I participated, as always remotely, in the monthly meeting of the Reproductive Advocates Working Group this week. I wasn’t in the room but could picture the mostly younger, mostly female group of spirited, dedicated justice nerds (in the most affectionate sense of the word) sitting around a table, comparing notes, sharing intelligence. Plotting strategies on the upcoming campaigns to stave off further insurance barriers to securing contraception, and help win what is arguably the most important abortion rights case to reach the Supreme Court in 20 years. In the midst of the serious business, I heard praise, support, and even blessed laughter.
What might we do together? What pieces might individual groups take on for the good of the whole? Who has the bandwidth and expertise to craft amicus briefs—legal letters laying out our case for the best judicial decision? Who can take the lead on social media: craft Facebook posts, orchestrate Twitter thunder claps? What can be shared?
One piece of generous and immensely helpful (to me) sharing was a blog written by Tracy Wolf from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. One of a series of expected pieces on reproductive rights at the Court, this one covered an upcoming case focusing on “accommodation for religious non-profits in providing—or not—contraceptive coverage for their employees. Wolf gifts us, provides our team with a concise explanation of what is at issue and what is at stake.
Earlier in the week, advocacy partner/team member Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe from Catholics for Choice, wrote the letter to Congressional leadership that UUWF signed, along with more than 20 other faith organizations, opposing the Abortion Non Discrimination Act. This proposed rider on the year-end federal funding seeks to expand the right of refusal beyond individual providers to institutions and any healthcare facility.
“We support access to abortion, contraception, and other reproductive health services, and oppose public policies that impose belief by religious fiat,” our letter states emphatically.
Our ability to sign on to well-thought-out and crafted communications has been possible because of a shared commitment to getting the work done well. My thanks also go to Amy Cotton from the National Council for Jewish Women, who, along with Glenn Northern from Catholics for Choice, have taken leadership roles in our faith campaign over the past months to stand with Planned Parenthood.
And our own UU minister, Rev Debra Haffner, and the Religious Institute, for reaching out to clergy and other faith leaders to sign on to a special amicus brief on the case, Whole Woman’s Health vs. Cole, challenging onerous requirements in a Texas law which, if allowed to remain on the books, would force most of the abortion clinics in that state to close and set a chilling precedent for many others.
I am proud to have signed on as the ordained minister serving the UUWF, joining 650 others so far, on the way to 1,000 or more.
In this season, my heart is filled with gratitude for the gift of gifts I have been given—and we all have received—from these amazing colleagues.