Sitting here in the third of four rows of chairs in a crowded basement room waiting for the House hearings to begin on Senate bill 23 prohibiting abortions after six weeks, I feel the mixed energies of fate, hope, and desperation. The process has been long and this is the final public hearing on what many feel is a done deal. Ohio is about to join the far right religious freight train bound for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. What is the old saying? Torpedoes be damned?
As the hearing begins, the doctors line up to testify, many saying that if this bill passed, it would greatly affect their choice of where to practice. Residents would look out of state and older doctors would consider retiring rather than practice in a state where they had to choose between concealing options from patients and being charged with a felony. The fourth doctor, a practicing OB GYN, offered a solid testimony and was questioned for what seemed like half an hour. Without a doubt, she was the most effective witness, human but unflappable in offering facts and examples.
A professor at OSU testified, citing statistics of abortion rates from her studies across the globe. If you put abortion availability on a scale from most to least restrictive, the number of abortions per country is almost equal, with slight drops in countries with the least restrictive laws and regulations. The difference is safety. In prohibitive countries, the same number of abortions occur, but instead of having the procedure in medical offices, women attempt it in basements or back alleys with coat hangers, overdoses, and other dangerous methods. The hospitalization rate for post-abortion emergency care in these situations is about 40%. In countries with the most freedom, abortions rates are about the same (slightly less actually) but the post-procedure hospitalization rate is negligible. The bottom line is abortions will happen. The only difference is safety – and the pursuant mortality rates and cost of care.
As the day progressed late into the afternoon, other people lined up to testify. There were discussions about viability which appeared to be a judgement call between survivability potential outside the womb (Roe put it at 24 weeks, today’s advancements put it at 21-22 weeks), and the emotional or ideological belief for some, that life begins with the detection of a heartbeat or at conception. Of course, the rabbis, including Rabbi Jessica from Little Minion, clearly testified that there were other religious beliefs that were much older and strongly differed in opinion. Life in the Jewish tradition begins at birth with the taking in of breath.
There were other religious voices including a Baptist pastor who delivered a 5-minute hellfire and damnation sermon that included threats of a vengeful God and barely stopped short of full altar call. Jonathan Edwards from the 18thcentury would have been proud and I was reminded of how our Universalist faith was founded in reaction to such vile and hate-filled representation of the divine. (We focus on love, welcome, and inclusion.) I was not the only person in the room that was shocked by such overtly white male domination couched in extreme patriarchic religious rhetoric, but there were a couple older white male Representatives clearly appreciated the sermon. An abolitionist woman followed, having dedicated at least a decade working for this bill. I paused at the use of the term abolitionist for this cause, but apparently it is an official group. What if she had been working to reduce the need for abortions (contraception availability, child care, poverty, etc.) instead? Overturning Roe will not reduce abortion.
I was nestled in the rotation in the ministerial group. Knowing I could not offer facts like the doctors could and that these hearings have produced many personal stories and pleas from both sides, I chose to ask the Representatives to try to pull us all together, not divide us further. Govern for all of us, not just some. I used the framework of the amazing youth service (thank you!) on Sunday and talked about common good. My testimony is attached.
My hope is that reasonable minds will prevail in the final decision, but that hope is slim. This feels like a freight train on the way to the Supreme Court. My heart is warmed by the many courageous people who spoke up and are working together to help women and families in times of crisis. As a church, I hope we can also find ways to assist. Stay tuned…
Blessings to all,
IMPORTANT – PLEASE READ
- There is a woman, possibly more, who has been waiting by the outside doors of the RE wing (Panera side) to panhandle folks as they leave Sunday service. Sometimes she has an Order of Service or even mentions my name. BEWARE! The stories ply on our desire to help. PLEASE DO NOT ENCOURAGE THIS and DO NOT GIVE MONEY. Send this woman, or whoever may be in need, to either myself or Rev. Eric. Thanks to your generosity, we have a Minsters’ Discretionary Fund and can offer assistance and referrals. We also know some of these people and their situations. Giving money in the parking lot does not help. Again, DO NOT GIVE MONEY.
- For those of you who still have questions or wonder about how we go forward following the Morgan Patten situation this winter, Rev. David Pyle from the UUA Regional office will be here Sunday at 12:45 to host a conversation. The primary audience is our RE families and volunteers. Others may also attend. The goal is to have open conversation, answer questions, and also look at ways to move forward in a healthy and vibrant manner. Feel free to contact me if you have questions.
- RSVP for First Friday’s COMMUNITY STEWARDSHIP DINNER. Food is provided! And, there will be a surprise – a grand unveiling – of something we’ve all been waiting for. Details (but not the surprise) are below.
- GRATITUDE: Thank you so much to all those who make breakfast before the 9:15 service and to those who make coffee for both services. And special thanks to those who clean up! Food and caffeine are much appreciated so we can engage body, mind, and spirit in the wonders of community and worship on Sunday mornings.
For additional activities and events, please see First UU News (posted on Fridays)
For information about family and child-focused events and classes, or to be added to the RE News mailing list, contact Elizabeth Mount, our Director of Religious Exploration.
Sunday, March 31st, 9:15 & 11am
“From Where We Sit” with Rev. Marian
What is the view of the world from where we sit? What is the view we see on Sundays? Does it matter? What does it mean? Turns out, where we sit can stir up all sorts of things. Sometimes, even the light makes a difference. We will also honor Art Beach for his longtime dedication and generosity.
Sunday, March 31st, 7pm, Sanctuary
Otterbein Choirs Concert: Musical Landscapes
First UU Musicpresents the choral concert “Musical Landscapes”. The concert will feature the Otterbein Concert Choir, directed by Marla Butke, and the Central Crossing High School Chorale, directed by Brandon Moss. Each choir will sing separately and then they will combine to present The Ground by Ola Gjeilo. There is no admission, however donations are welcome at the door.
First Friday, April 5th, 6:30pm, Fellowship Hall
Community Stewardship Dinner – Everyone is invited!
Leave the cooking to us…
Come one, come all and let us celebrate community and what we do together – and what is possible. Childcare is provided.
SANCTUARY and JUSTICE UPDATES
FILA: First UU’s Benevolence Fund for Immigration Legal Assistance
FILA is up and running and is accepting donations (tax-deductible) and applications for assistance. Brochures detailing the fund are available in the lobby and back hallway, and information is also readily accessible via the church website, at: www.firstuucolumbus.org/fila
Donations can be made via check (made payable to First UU, with FILA in the memo line) or via the website, following the link, above. Questions may be addressed to either Jan Phillips, or via email at: FILA@firstuucolumbus.org
The fund has helped its first person, a mother with two children, helping her pay for her asylum application.
Gift Cards needed. Kroger gift cards to help Edith and her family with food while she is in Sanctuary. Give your cards to Jan P. or Ginnie V. in Fellowship Hall after services.
THIS MOMENT IN UU HISTORY
Sponsored by the First UU Archives Team
March 28, 1841
On March 28, 1841, at the suggestion of Unitarian minister William Ellery Channing, Dorothea Dix made her first visit to a prison, experiencing such a strong revolution that she devoted the rest of her life to institutional reform for both convicts and persons with mental illness.