"While we wish that all young people lived in households that are both physically and emotionally safe spaces, this is not the case for everyone."
- Congressional testimony on HR 2299 by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
UUA Women's Issues Alert
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are continuing their onslaught of anti-choice, anti-woman proposals. Surprised? We need to continue voicing our opposition to these measures as people who affirm in the inherent worth and dignity of all people, the individual rights of conscience, and the value of life.
This week I hope you can make your voice heard about the most current threat: the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (HR 2299), or CIANA, which has been proposed in various forms for almost 15 years and never passed. CIANA attempts to restrict a woman’s constitutionally protected right to abortion, targeting a particularly vulnerable population: young women who turn to trusted adults in times of crisis. Specifically, this legislation would prohibit anyone, including clergy or a close family member, from accompanying minors across state lines for an abortion if they did not comply with parental notification laws in the minors’ states of residence. This legislation also imposes a complex series of mandates on health care providers, requiring them to police their patients and enforce the parental involvement laws of the state in which they are practicing and the state in which the patient resides.
Ideally, young women facing this kind of critical situation would turn to their parents for support and guidance. Fortunately, most do, even in states that do not have parental notification laws. However, some young women who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest, or who fear severe or violent reprisals from their parents, often turn to a clergy person, a grandmother or aunt, or other trusted adult. CIANA would discourage such behavior by criminalizing the grandparent, clergy member, counselor or other trusted adult who attempts to aid a minor when she needs it most — even if that adult was not aware of the state’s parental involvement laws. In the absence of a trustworthy support network, a youth may take matters into her own hands, endangering her health or her life.
Congress cannot mandate healthy family communication and must not create laws that force young women to face unintended pregnancy alone. HR 2299 will deter young women from seeking help and guidance from trusted adults; the repercussions could be tragic. Please write to Congress and ask them to defeat this proposal. Forward this email to a young woman in your life and ask her to write, too.
Telling Our Stories
As the reproductive justice advocate here at the UUA, one of the best aspects of my job is working with UU activists and leaders across the country. Many of them have told me stories of their congregations (and retired activists/ministers) who have been working for reproductive rights and justice since before Roe v. Wade made it legal to do so. Whether we host clinics in church basements, drive women across borders, or argue before the Supreme Court, UUs have a long history of doing this work that we should know better and be proud of!
Over the next few months, I will be collecting and publicizing these stories, and I need to hear from you! Ask the people in your congregation how they worked for reproductive justice. Ask the ministers you know, ask someone of an older or younger generation than you, or their family members. Help write down their stories so that more UUs will know the legacy and capacity that we have as religious people to work for reproductive justice.
Send your stories me at email@example.com!
Program Associate for Women's Issues
PS: Women were out-earned by men in nearly every occupation in 2011, earning about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. April 17th is Equal Pay Day - find out more and get involved.