Regarding your recent story, “Abortion clinic in New Orleans sees construction restart:” on July 20, 2014, the extremist group Operation Save America violated the Sunday morning worship space of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans, screaming hateful remarks in an attempt to intimidate Unitarian Universalists to keep silent about many UUs’ support for Planned Parenthood. Instead of being silenced by this unholy act, UUs have lifted up their voices.
And as religious people, we are not alone. I have been witness to Louisiana clergy, across religious traditions, in support of the care that Planned Parenthood provides.
In church rallies, sermons preached by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, meetings with ministers and trainings to pastor to women facing reproductive decisions and loss, we have shown that there are a diversity of religious views in New Orleans on Reproductive Justice — a movement created by SisterSong, a coalition of women of color to “promote the right of all women to have children, not to have children, and to raise their children in safe and healthy environments.”
As a Unitarian Universalist minister and a new mother, my support for Planned Parenthood is personal and religious. One in five women has received care from Planned Parenthood.
I am one of those women.
When a former job did not provide health insurance, Planned Parenthood provided my only medical checkups and affordable contraception. My husband and I are grateful to Planned Parenthood for helping us plan our own parenthood.
Louisiana has one of the highest rates of infant and maternal mortality, teen pregnancy and HIV-AIDS in the nation.
Yet, Louisiana politicians have refused to expand Medicaid and made it difficult for Planned Parenthood to open its doors on South Claiborne Avenue.
What is getting lost in the debate about the full range of reproductive services that Planned Parenthood provides is all that Planned Parenthood provides — scientifically accurate sex education, well women exams, life-saving medical screenings, STI testing and treating, access to contraceptives. Every moment that the clinic is not open is one in which all Louisianans are denied better health outcomes and care.
Which begs the question: As people of faith, how are we truly caring for one another, in sickness and in health, under the eye of a loving, compassionate God?
I come from a tradition of a loving God, a God that desires the health and wholeness of each individual.
God does not hate a woman who is navigating reproductive choices within her own conscience, family and faith community. God does not hate clinics that provide affordable, compassionate health care.
As a minister, a mother and a resident of New Orleans, supporting Planned Parenthood in its mission is sacred, personal, loving and life-saving work.
THE Rev. Darcy Roake
Unitarian Universalist minister