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Letter to the editor: Iowa City-area clergy recognize the sacred right to choose an abortion


Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz speaks at the Bans Off Our Bodies protest on May 14, 2022. “My presence is not a political act. It is a moral stance, an expression of my deepest religious values, and a fulfillment of the obligations of Jewish ethics,” Hugenholtz said. “Religion can offer spiritual sustenance and moral guidance in ways that affirm life, grant choice, and center love, agency, health, wellbeing and holiness.” — Adria Carpenter/Little Village

On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a person’s right to choose an abortion and maintain bodily autonomy is not a protected right under the U.S. Constitution. As a group of local clergy persons representing various traditions and communities, we maintain that a pregnant person’s right to choose an abortion is a fundamental human, moral, and sacred one.

The June 24 decision disregards the human rights of pregnant people, privileging an unborn fetus over a pregnant person’s moral responsibility to protect their life and wellbeing, and amounts to the sanctioning of forced births, regardless of a person’s wishes, needs, or medical situation. As living, breathing full humans who have been created in the image of the Sacred, pregnant people in the United States now face the prospect of no longer being trusted to make decisions about their own bodies and futures.

For too long those who now celebrate this decision have done so with a voice of “moral” reasoning. As clergy persons, we find nothing moral about taking away a pregnant person’s right to bodily autonomy. Instead, the Supreme Court’s decision disregards the full humanity of pregnant people as living, breathing persons who have also been endowed with life, liberty, and responsibility to make moral decisions for themselves and their families. As clergy, we share a moral commitment to the idea that reproductive care is healthcare and is essential to the well-being of individuals and families. Access to abortion and the right to choose is an issue of equality, bodily autonomy, and religious liberty.

Now that the Supreme Court decision shifts the debate over reproductive rights to the state level, we call upon Iowans of faith to join us in our moral stance against legally sanctioned forced births while we advocate for a pregnant person’s right to choose.

Pastor Ryan Downing, Faith UCC
The Rev. Meg Wagner, JustChurch
Rev. Diana Smith, Unitarian Universalist Society
Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz, Agudas Achim Congregation
Adey Wassink, Sanctuary Community Church
Rev. Leigh Brown, Ordained Elder, United Methodist Church
Rev. Laura Hudson Kittrell, First Christian Church, Coralville
The Rev. W. Robert Martin, III, Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church
Rev. Ryan M Russell, Coralville United Methodist Church
Jan Rippentrop Schnell, Lutheran
Rev. Dr. Sarah Rohret, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church
David Borger Germann, Sanctuary Community Church
Rev. Rebecca C. Carver, retired United Methodist
Rev. Dr. Dorothy Whiston
Rev. Jill Cameron Michel, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
The Rev. Marc Haack, Trinity Episcopal Church
Reverend Sarah Goettsch, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and Lutheran Campus Ministry
Rev. Mary Kay Kusner, Full Circle Catholic Community
The Rev Nora Boerner, Trinity Episcopal Church & JustChurch
Christine Wagner-Hecht
Rev. Kara Seaton, First Christian Church
Bob Welsh, First Christian, Retired
Pastor Katie Lowe Lancaster
The Rev. Jane L. Stewart, New Song Episcopal
The Rev. Susan K. Debner
Mark Pries
Rev. Lois Cole, Unitarian Universalist Society
Rev. Anita Johnson
Nancy Olthoff, Ph. D., Presbyterian
Karen Martens Zimmerly, First Mennonite Church of Iowa City
The Rev. Lauren Lyon, Trinity Episcopal Church
Carolyn Otis, Presiding Elder, Community of Christ
The Rev. William Lovin, Congregational United Church of Christ
Thomas H. Wassink, M.D., Sanctuary Community Church
Dr. John McKinstry, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Le Anne Clausen de Montes, Iowa Faith Leadership Network
Libby Conley


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