On Wednesday afternoon, several faith leaders gathered to announce the formation of The Reproductive Freedom Congregation Designation. This new coalition brings together several congregations of multiple faiths in Texas to affirm their support of reproductive rights as a new extreme anti-abortion bill goes into effect next week.
The announcement of the Reproductive Freedom Congregation Designation took place in Dallas at the First Unitarian Church. This new designation is also a project from Just Texas, which operates under the umbrella of the progressive grassroots organization Texas Freedom Network. Reverend Erika Forbes, the Faith and Outreach Manager for Texas Freedom Network, said 25 churches currently hold the new designation, and 70 more are in the pipeline.
Forbes spoke about the commitment many faith leaders hold to affirming reproductive justice and abortion rights even as the state is poised to enact harsh new legislation. In May, Governor Greg Abbott signed a law going into effect next week that would essentially ban abortion at six weeks and would also allow virtually anyone to file a lawsuit against an abortion provider or any person they believe aided or abetted an abortion.
Forbes called the launch of the designation “revolutionary.” She also said that it was a way for congregations to proudly proclaim their values and, “to say that healthcare is a moral and social good and most of all ready to say that we will not judge, shame, or stigmatize women for their choices including abortion.”
At yesterday’s launch, Reverend Dr. Daniel Kanter of the First Unitarian Church in Dallas affirmed his and his church’s commitment to abortion rights. He also noted that many of the women who wrote an amicus brief supporting the case that would be Roe v. Wade attended First Unitarian in Dallas.
“Faith communities need not fear dialogue,” said Kanter. “I believe that all people have the inherent right to reproductive freedom, and this freedom includes the access to abortion.”
In a statement, Val Benavidez, the executive director of the Texas Freedom Network, spotlighted the importance of creating this new designation on the eve of next week’s harsh anti-abortion law. “As a law to ban abortion before most women know they are pregnant will go into effect in less than a week, there’s never been a better time to have these conversations — to remove the fear and stigma surrounding abortion and reproductive health,” she said. “The Reproductive Freedom Congregation Designation will establish those safe spaces — that positive dialogue — all across our state.”
Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call