“The thing most of us have been talking about is to encourage the use of medical technology, the morning-after pills and very good new drugs. There are already very interesting groups of women my age feeling we could take the risk of loading up our vans to take road trips and give them out at churches.”
While pundits debate whether a U.S. Supreme Court that includes Brett Kavanaugh will overturn Roe v. Wade, a group of progressive clergy isn’t waiting to find out. These religious leaders have been planning for life after Roe for the past year.
They’re drawing on the history of the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion (CCS), an international network of over 2,000 faith leaders led by mainline Protestants and Reform Jews. Founded in 1967, the clergy fought for the liberalization of abortion laws and helped thousands of women obtain legal and illegal abortions.
Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper participated in CCS while she was a student at the University of Chicago Divinity School. She was arrested for counseling women on how to get from Chicago to New York City to obtain abortions. Half a century later, Schaper is now the Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City and still active in the faith-based fight for reproductive justice.
Schaper spoke with RD about the progressive clergy response should the Supreme Court overturn Roe.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
What should clergy be thinking about now as we consider the possibility of Roeoverturned and many states re-criminalizing abortion?
Very good question. Obviously, the first answer is nobody knows yet. It’s possible there are some Republicans in the Senate who could jimmy this question for a long time. I think it has been time and many of us, for more than a year now, have been imaging a world post-Roe.
The first thing I want to say is that if men bore children, abortion would be a sacrament. It’s sexism that doesn’t allow a woman to use a perfectly ordinary reproductive technology. I’ve had two abortions and was back to work in the afternoon. That doesn’t mean they were inconsequential to me. They were profoundly positive experiences of exercising my humanity and my freedom.
The second thing I want to get on the table is that President Trump has an interesting sex life, to put it mildly. He seems to enjoy multiple partners. I hope that if there are any paternities involved, that he and other men like him who enjoy multiple partners, that post-Roe, we track our reproductive behavior so that it’s not just women who get stuck with these children and the shame of having borne them. Men should learn to either be ashamed or take some responsibility.
This whole notion that women have babies on their own is bullshit. It’s a higher bullshit. In the name of restricting government power, Trump is actually increasing government power but only over women’s sexuality. This has to be one of the most absurd or Orwellian ideas of the whole thing. It’s one contradiction on top of another contradiction on top of a moral contradiction which will make women suffer.
So where do we go from here? It’s almost like the Do-It-Yourself movement. We’re going to have to encourage birth control because unwanted pregnancies will have no solution for many people in many states.
The thing most of us have been talking about is to encourage the use of medical technology, the morning after pills and very good new drugs. We need to get some wise pharmaceutical company to make money off distributing them so people don’t need abortions, and/or smuggling the drugs in from Mexico and Canada.
There are already very interesting groups of women my age feeling we could take the risk of loading up our vans to take road trips and give them out at churches. We’d see what kind of legal trouble one could get into because the drugs would be given away and are legal in Mexico and Canada.
This kind of civil action, I don’t even know if it’s civil disobedience—would be like the old Jane Collective. This would be Jane with drugs as opposed to Jane with forceps.
SOURCE: Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons