Dorhauer goes to the White House to affirm reproductive justice
The U. S. Supreme Court is expected to come back any day now with a decision that could impact a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. That’s a critical reason why the general minister and president of the United Church of Christ went to the White House last Wednesday.
The Rev. John Dorhauer was one of several interfaith denominational leaders who met on June 1 with members of the president’s and vice-president’s staff to talk about preserving reproductive rights.
“The meeting was outstanding,” Dorhauer said. “All of us met with White House staff to talk about our ongoing commitments to support a woman’s legal and constitutional right to abortion.
“One of the more powerful and poignant moments came when the Jewish leaders said that overturning Roe v. Wade would prohibit them from being in compliance with Jewish law; that in fact there were times when the moral imperative would call for the abortion. This in effect means they would be prohibited from practicing their faith if the court acts to overturn its previous decision.”
‘Rationale and defense’
Participants included four leaders from the Jewish faith and five from Christian denominations:
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
- United Church of Christ
- United Methodist Church
- Presbyterian Church USA
- The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
- Reconstructing Judaism
- The Rabbinical Assembly
- Yeshivat Chovevei Torah
- Central Conference of American Rabbis
White House Gender Policy Council Director Jennifer Klein convened the discussion. Dorhauer said she and other staffers shared President Biden’s “commitment to reproductive rights” during the meeting.
“We are all living in fear of a Supreme Court that is hoping to reverse and unravel rights the UCC – and others – have fought long and hard to win and preserve,” he said. “The President needs and is asking for religious leaders to provide both rationale and defense for our ongoing support for these rights.
“It is important because we all know that much of the impetus for removing these rights comes from religious leaders with very different theologies than the one we claim in the UCC. We have a responsibility to ensure that our voice is heard, and that it is heard in the halls of power to make sure they remain committed to preserving our human rights.”
Dorhauer spoke about the UCC’s historic commitments to reproductive justice. “I noted our reliable, much acclaimed, and comprehensive Our Whole Lives curriculum; our call to train clergy not only to be advocates for reproductive justice, but also to prepare for acts of civil disobedience that may include counseling women on where to go and how to get safe abortions when their state prohibits that; and also about how through the years we have aligned with partner organizations like Planned Parenthood and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.”
Dorhauer noted “a collective anger and disdain that there is a belief that all religions oppose abortion and that this move on the part of the Supreme Court is in support of a religious minority in America. The vast majority of religious members support safe, affordable, accessible abortions.”
The group plans to stay connected on issues of reproductive justice, Dorhauer said, and he shared with the group the UCC’s working bottom line — a definition of reproductive justice rooted in the experiences of women of color and formed in the early 1990s: “Reproductive justice is the human right to maintain personal autonomy, have children, not have children and to parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”
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