by Conference Minister Diane Weible
As many of you know, our Annual Gathering theme last year was centered around The Elephant in the Room when it comes to racism and white supremacy.
Today I want to reflect of the part of the elephant that is reproductive justice and the threat to the rights of women, especially women of color, to make decisions about their own body. If a state bans abortions, some women can go to other states and still make decisions for themselves. Some women, however, and those women are disproportionately women of color, will lose the choice to make these decisions for themselves.
All of us should be outraged—male, female, and others alike; rich and poor alike. This would not be happening if the Supreme Court had not become another political body that has been empowered to make make decisions that deeply impact the lives of others, with apparent disregard for the Constitution or the lives they will impact.
I was so young when Roe v. Wade was decided so, for me, I don’t remember a country that did not value the lives and the rights of women to make decisions about their own body. I never thought I would live in a society that could throw this out with so little consideration for its impact.
I know that not everyone agrees with me. I’m not writing this to try to persuade anyone to see things as I do. Instead, I write this with deep pain—pain for the disregard for human life, the very thing that Roe v. Wade opponents claim they are fighting for.
I struggle to understand when faced with other realities. I hear people say abortion is murder and yet many of those same people will stand up for the rights of people to carry semi-automatic weapons, even after those weapons have been used to murder helpless children who did nothing other than wake up and go to school.
No one addresses the reality that all women deal with every single day—is it safe to walk alone? How do we protect ourselves? Violence against women is an epidemic in this country. The World Health Organization has deemed it a major public health problem. Why are we not fighting just as hard for the health and safety of half of our country’s population?
This is a smaller thing, but it is a thing, nonetheless–The Pink Tax. Women are charged more for products marketed for women than the same product marketed to men. In other words, it will cost me more to buy a pink razor than a gray one. One estimate is that women pay $1300 more per year for these products than men. Why?
I’ve told this story before but when I was in seminary, I was part of a three-student panel at a gathering of clergy in Chicago. I was one of two women on the panel and the clergy were asking us many questions about seminary life. Towards the end of the evening, I, along with the other female student, was asked how we will handle it when a man is chosen for a ministerial position instead of us. We were both young enough that we had reaped the benefits of the women’s rights movements of the 1970s and we thought the days were behind us when we would be turned away because we were female. We both said something like, “We believe in our call and if that happens it will mean that God needs us elsewhere.” The room erupted. I remember the women in that room and how angry they were. I remember the pleased look on the faces of many of the men. They started arguing with one another and we were forgotten.
I remember thinking that I hoped I would never feel as helpless and angry as those women were feeling.
Today, I am sad to say, I feel it and I finally get their anger. I pray for wisdom to know how to channel it to make a difference—the kind of different that those who have gone before me have made and the kind of difference that all women need because there are too many women for whom no one is speaking up for. That has got to change.