The Supreme Court has ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade. When things like this happen, we know you turn to UUJAZ and ask, what can we do?
For now, beloved Arizona UUs, we are resending this email, a version of which you received when the draft was leaked. Our commitment to Reproductive Justice has not changed, and we will not stop fighting and caring for our communities.
1) Put on your mask first
You may already know what you need for spiritual practice and what helps you stay grounded. Go out in nature, talk to a friend, meditate, pray. For me, I met with my spiritual director this morning and took an hour to breathe, feel the pain in my body, and cry. Reach out if you need more care than you can provide yourself, and be there for each other. It's okay to move things off your calendar and cancel plans. This is an all-hands situation.
2) A vigil for reproductive justice
I'm sure there will be many folks in your own congregations who need care. If you are a leader, you can consider opening up the church for some caring circles, a vigil, or a vespers service. There are resources on Side With Love here in the repro justice section for chalice lightings, readings, prayers, etc. Don't over think it... people need somewhere to go and they don't care if it's perfect. I'm reminded of November 2016, when we opened up UU Phoenix the day after the election, put on a pot of soup, had a simple circle with candles and prayers in the sanctuary, and opened up the patio for folks to talk and just be together and feel. If you do end up holding a vigil today, or even open hours at your church, please let me know so I can spread the word. https://sidewithlove.org/reproductive-justice-worship
3) Community Pastoral Care
Beyond your congregations, this is a time when folks who aren't UUs, yet, but are aligned with our values, are likely to be looking for community. Personally I've had many people in my inbox already, asking me where they can go, or who they can call, to talk to others. If ministers are able to offer an ear, let us know. If you have a lay pastoral care team and can expand your capacity for this week, out into your community, we really need you. Please consider making a phone number available to text or call. You can set up a Google voice number, you can have folks take shifts, whatever works. Let me know if you're ready for me to connect you with folks asking to be matched.
4) Trump Bump 2.0?
It's very possible you are going to see more visitors than usual this Sunday. Especially if you hold a vigil and/or make your UU stance for repro justice public on your social media and through your emails. Folks who have been considering a visit for a while may find this the push they needed. Folks who have been hesitating being in person may find it hard to be without their people. Give your membership/welcoming/hospitality teams a heads up that they might see more people, and those folks might be feeling lots of feelings. Put your gentle and loving folks out front. Maybe ask them to wear pink, and their Planned Parenthood shirts and buttons too, if you like.
On choosing abortion
God is not a judge who sits at a distance
shaking “His” finger at us
about divine rules and regulations.
God is within.
Like a whisper.
Like a question.
Like a knowing and a rising.
God lures us towards each other. Towards collective flourishing. Towards power growing from the margins. Towards our roots deep in the earth.
God pulls us in every direction that serves love and life.
Sometimes that direction is abortion.
When a woman
or a trans man
or a nonbinary person with a uterus
and must decide how best
to foster life:
and that of their family,
and that of this earth breaking under our burdens,
God knows, for many, there are such few “choices”
available in this
The God of the fringes,
every form of coercion
and every act of control
over the bodies of those
who ask all the right questions
of life and autonomy and futures and collective well-being
under all the wrong systems
that abandon and judge and isolate and weigh down.
Let us not grow weary in claiming our power,
in professing and practicing our solidarity,
In sharing our resources,
and in following the One
who from the margins cries:
come and follow.
– Rev. M Barclay, enfleshed
Longer Term Needs
5) Organizing for Community Care
We've been planning with partners across the state in repro justice to transport folks across state lines for reproductive care. If anyone in your church brings this up or is interested, reach out to us and we will add your name to our growing list. We have started a list of willing volunteers to coordinate logistics, drive, gather supplies, write grants, fundraise, etc. There's a role for everyone. We know a lot of elders carry this organizing wisdom from when they were young and organized for safe abortions the first time, and we can learn a lot from your experience. If we all work together with the repro justice coalition, instead of each setting up separate efforts, the hands will be many and the load will be light.
6) One Election Can Change Things in AZ!
A brief political history: there are *already* laws on the books in AZ, so called trigger laws, that criminalize abortion. No other legislation is needed to be passed. Yes, that means people can be arrested today for abortions... patients and providers.
The Arizona State Legislature has the power to change these laws in Arizona. The representatives and senators currently elected will not do so. There is an election in November. Abortion access will now be determined state by state. This is why its even more imparative than ever for us to be involved in *local* races, not just federal. If you dont know your legislative district, now is the time to find out how you can help your pro-choice state candidate.
There are protests planned, and you can feel free to go if it feels good to march and yell and be with other people, but I don't want us to confuse that with strategy that will change things. What IS absolutely a strategic solution, is the Maricopa County Attorney race, this upcoming November.
If you live anywhere other than Maricopa county, your folks already have to drive to Phoenix for an abortion (in some cases Tucson or Flagstaff, depending on the situation, but not in all cases). So the Maricopa county attorney election will determine whether abortion is criminalized for everyone in the entire state. Because of this, it can't be thought of as just a Phoenix race.
UUJAZ cannot tell you which candidate to vote for, but what we can and will do is run a series of political education events and emails this summer on the importance of the county attorney seat, and prosecutorial discretion. No matter how you feel about abortion or about the criminal justice system, in recent polls over 80% of Arizonans agree that we should not waste time and resources arresting and prosecuting medical patients. There is only one candidate who has committed over and over that she will NOT prosecute abortion patients or providers in Arizona, and this race is the only thing standing between safe health care, and jail.
Please feel free to let me know what other information is helpful to support you in spreading this message. You'll hear more from our team on this over the next several weeks and months. Feel free to forward this message on to your friends, family, and communities.
Thanks everyone for the incredible work you do caring for each other and your congregations. Sending you love and strength.