This letter is opinion written by 20 Vermont religious leaders whose names are signed below. The letter supports a constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights in Vermont. A Senate vote is planned for April 9.
As faith leaders from diverse theological backgrounds and denominations, we represent a variety of beliefs and viewpoints on complicated, moral issues. We write today as one religious community, and we write to stand with Vermont’s women. We come together in support of women’s reproductive liberty and a woman’s right to choose.
At the heart of many laws restricting women’s reproductive freedom is an assumption that women can’t be trusted. That they are incapable of making ethical and moral decisions. This misogyny and inequality is in stark contrast to our religious beliefs.
Every human is born equal. Women, like men, should be trusted to make their own decisions. Protecting women’s reproductive freedom protects women’s legal right to have control over their own bodies. This, in turn, gives women control and autonomy over every other aspect of their lives. Sadly, when abortion access is limited, those who suffer the most tend to be our most vulnerable - women of low-income and minority communities. Abortion access is a social justice value and is something that should be decided by one’s individual conscience, not the Government.
As faith leaders we feel compelled to take a stand to help protect women’s reproductive freedoms, their decisions about their own health care and their own constitutional rights. If the U.S. Supreme Court, which now leans conservative, overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion, reproductive freedom in Vermont will be threatened. Vermont has an opportunity to stand with women and protect their reproductive liberty by amending our constitution to uphold people’s constitutional rights, including abortion.
It seems to be a common misconception that people of faith oppose women’s reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to choose. On the contrary, studies show that the majority of almost every predominant religious group in the U.S. supports abortion rights. Eighty three percent of Jewish people, 82% of Buddhists, 68% of Hindus, 60% of mainline Protestants and
55% of Muslims support abortion rights. Support for abortion among Catholics in the U.S. ranges from 48% to 56%, depending on the study. While it may be simpler to reduce the controversial abortion debate into two categories such as religious vs. secular, it is simply not reflective of our beliefs.
Health care is a basic human need and central to our liberty and dignity; all individuals should have the right to an equal opportunity to access the highest attainable level of health. Everyone deserves equal access to the full range of reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion. We urge the Vermont Legislature to again stand with us and Vermont’s women by supporting the reproductive liberty amendment.
Kristabeth Atwood, M. Div, Rites of Passage
Hadley Bunting, Charlotte Congregational Church, UCC
Rev. Susan Cooke Kittredge, Charlotte Congregational Church, UCC
Rev. Mara J. Dowdall, Unitarian Universality Minister
Rabbi David Edleson, Temple Sinai, South Burlington
Rev. Joanne Gannino, Westmore
Rev. Becca Girrel, Pastor, United Community Church of Morrisville
Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen, Senior Pastor, Charlotte Congregational Church, UCC Sunyana Graef, Founder, Vermont Zen Center
Rev. Patricia Hart, First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington
Rev. Jan Hutslar, UU Congregation of the Upper Valley
Rev. Debbie Ingram, Member, Vermont Conference, United Church of Christ, Williston, VT
Rev. Joan Javier-Duval, Unitarian Church of Montpelier
Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy, Springfield UU Meetinghouse
Rev. Sarah Lammert, Co-Director of Ministries and Faith Development, Ecclesiastical Endorser Rev. Johanna Nichols, Unitarian Universalist
Susan Ohlidal, Episcopal Priest, St. Johnsbury
Rabbi Jan Salzman, Congregation Ruach Hamaqom
Rabbi Tobie Weisman, Founding Director, Yearning for Learning Center Rev. Kathy W. Eddy, Braintree