UUV4J Women’s Rights
Unitarian Universalist official stands on issues related to women’s health and reproductive rights:
The following resolution were passed by delegates to the Unitarian Universalist General Assemblies over the past 50 years. These resolutions were either business resolutions or general resolutions clearly stating a long-standing UUA support for women’s health and reproductive rights. The resolutions listed here begin as early as 1963.
1993 General Resolution
BECAUSE Unitarian Universalists affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person and the right of individual conscience; and BECAUSE Unitarian Universalists affirm the value of life and are concerned about the quality of life; and
WHEREAS the 1987 General Resolution “Right to Choose” recognized the morally complex nature of abortion and stressed “tolerance and compassion for persons whose choices may differ from our own”;
WHEREAS the Supreme Court of the United States, in recent decisions, has undermined the principle of freedom of choice in reproductive matters recognized inRoe v. Wade (1973);
WHEREAS further erosion or overturning of Roe v. Wade by future decisions of the Supreme Court could leave a woman’s right to choose subject to state legislation, which may be unsympathetic or even opposed to choice by creating demeaning and unnecessary barriers to safe, timely, and accessible services; and
WHEREAS recent developments include both the more favorable attitude of the Clinton administration toward a woman’s right to choose and a marked increase in violence intended to obstruct access to abortion;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Unitarian Universalists in the United States be urged to promote passage of federal legislation to:
1. guarantee the fundamental right of individual choice in reproductive matters;
2. require that counseling agencies receiving federal funds provide information about pregnancy options, including abortions;
3. provide federal funds to make abortion available to women of low income and to women in the armed services;
4. ensure the provision of abortion services for all women within a national health program;
5. protect medical personnel who supply abortion services, and their families, from harassment and intimidation; and
6. guarantee unrestricted access to counseling and abortion services, regardless of age, class, race, or situation, without curtailing peaceful protest.
1987 General Resolution
BECAUSE, Unitarian Universalists believe that the inherent worth and dignity of every person, the right of individual conscience, and respect for human life are inalienable rights due every person; and that the personal right to choose in regard to contraception and abortion is an important aspect of these rights; and
BECAUSE, we believe in tolerance and compassion for persons whose choices may differ from our own; and
BECAUSE, we believe not only in the value of life itself but also in the quality of life; and
WHEREAS, pain, suffering, and loss of life were widespread prior to the legalization of abortion in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court (Roe v. Wade ) and the 1969 amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada;
WHEREAS, the issue of abortion is morally complex, abortion must remain a legal option; and
WHEREAS, attempts are now being made to restrict access to birth control and abortion by overriding individual decisions of conscience, and attacks in legislatures, courts, and the streets often result in depriving poor women of their right to medical care; and such legislation is an infringement of the principle of separation of church and state in that it tries to enact private morality into public law; and
WHEREAS, there is a movement to re-criminalize abortion both for women and their health-care providers which could bring back dangerous alternatives to clinically safe abortions;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the 1987 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association reaffirms its historic position, supporting the right to choose contraception and abortion as legitimate aspects of the right to privacy; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that:
1. Individual Unitarian Universalists educate themselves, their congregations, and the public about the new moral understandings emergent in the works of feminist theologians and social ethicists; and
2. Unitarian Universalists oppose any move to deny or restrict the distribution of government funds as a means of restricting access to full contraceptive and abortion counseling and/or services, at home or abroad; and
3. Unitarian Universalists actively oppose all legislation, regulation and administrative action, at any level of government, intended to undermine or circumvent the Roe v. Wade decision; and
4. Unitarian Universalists communicate their opposition to such attempts to their legislative representatives and to the electorate; and
5. Unitarian Universalists expose and oppose bogus clinics and other tactics that infringe on the free exercise of the right to choose; and
6. Unitarian Universalists promote legislation funding safe abortions for low-income women; and
7. Individual Unitarian Universalists, congregations, and the Unitarian Universalist Association open discussion with those of different mind, and seek opportunities to work productively from shared values to promote family planning and education for responsible sex; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED: That we reaffirm the right to choose contraception and abortion as a legitimate expression of our constitutional rights.
Resolution on Abortion Clinic Bombings
1985 Business Resolution
VOTED: That the terrorist bombings of family planning agencies and abortion clinics throughout the United States are attempts to deny the right of free choice and to prevent the exercise of that right through intimidation. This breakdown of law and order is deplored by the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees.
We call on all federal, state and local authorities to protect our citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed rights.
A Religious Statement on Abortion: A Call to Commitment
1980 General Resolution
WHEREAS, the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, an organization supported by twenty-seven religious bodies, including the Unitarian Universalist Association, has issued a “Call to Commitment: A Religious Statement on Abortion”; and WHEREAS, in order to provide a unified approach, five of the religious bodies have already passed resolutions endorsing this statement and many others will consider it at meetings shortly; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association has endorsed the statement and encourages similar endorsement by wider representation in our denomination;
BE IT RESOLVED: That the 1980 General Assembly to the Unitarian Universalist Association endorse “A Religious Statement on Abortion: A Call to Commitment” prepared by the Religious Coalition on Abortion Rights; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the 1980 General Assembly urges that educational programs and efforts be pressed forward to foster responsibility in sexual conduct in the interest of reducing unwanted pregnancies.
Abortion: Right to Choose
1978 General Resolution
WHEREAS, religious freedom under the Bill of Rights is a cherished American right; and
WHEREAS, right to choice on contraception and abortion are important aspects of the right of privacy, respect for human life and freedom of conscience of women and their families; and
WHEREAS, there is increasing religious and political pressure in the United States to deny the foregoing rights;
BE IT RESOLVED: That the 1978 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association once again affirms the 1973 decision of the Supreme Court of the United States on abortion and urges the Association and member societies and individual members of member societies to continue and to intensify efforts to insure that every woman, whatever her financial means, shall have the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy legally and with all possible safeguards; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the 1978 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association urges the Unitarian Universalist Association, districts, and individual Unitarian Universalist societies to continue and, where possible, increase their efforts to maintain right of choice on abortion, including increased cooperation with the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, the National Abortion Rights Action League, and other groups seeking maintenance of this right; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the 1978 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association strongly opposes any denial or restriction of federal funds, or any Constitutional amendment, or the calling of a national Constitutional Convention to propose a Constitutional amendment, that would prohibit or restrict access to legal abortion.
For the Right to Abortion
1975 General Resolution
WHEREAS, every female should be accorded the right to decide whether or not she should bear a child;
WHEREAS, contraceptive methods are not perfect and do not absolutely protect against pregnancy; and
WHEREAS, abortion can be a relatively simple and safe way to terminate a pregnancy;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the delegates at the 1975 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association reaffirm the right of any female of any age or marital or economical status to have an abortion at her own request upon medical/social consultation of her own choosing; and urge all Unitarian Universalists in the United States to resist through their elected representatives the efforts now under way by some members of the Congress of the United States and state legislatures to curtail that right by means of constitutional amendment or other means;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That we urge all Unitarian Universalists and all Unitarian Universalist societies in Canada through the Canadian Unitarian Council to strive for making these rights available in Canada;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the General Assembly deplores the legal persecution by the Canadian authorities of Dr. Henry Morgenthaler for his courageous fight for the abortion rights of Canadian women and his willingness to assist them in exercising those rights. We deplore particularly the attack by the Crown prosecutor on the jury system, which has twice acquitted Dr. Morgenthaler; the mistreatment of
Dr. Morgenthaler in prison after his second acquittal; the shocking ruling of the Canadian courts that an Appellate Court can declare a defendant guilty after he has been acquitted by a jury; and the announced intention of the Crown prosecutor to carry on ten more prosecutions of Dr. Morgenthaler for past abortions. The General Assembly commends the Canadian Unitarian Council for its support of Dr. Morgenthaler and requests the CUC to convey the concern of the General Assembly to the Prime Minister of Canada and the Prime Minister of Quebec, and to request the Prime Minister of Canada to procure for Dr. Morgenthaler a royal pardon.
1973 General Resolution
WHEREAS, there are well organized efforts of letter writing, petitions, and a Washington Office for lobbying to amend the US Constitution to overturn the US Supreme Court decision on abortion;
BE IT RESOLVED: That we support the US Supreme Court ruling on abortion and its implementation.
1968 General Resolution
BE IT RESOLVED: That the 1968 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalists Association urges that efforts be made to abolish existing abortion laws except to prohibit performance of an abortion by a person who is not a duly licensed physician, leaving the decision as to an abortion to the doctor and his patient.
Reform of Abortion Statutes
1963 General Resolution
WHEREAS, we as Unitarian Universalists are deeply concerned for dignity and rights of human beings; and
WHEREAS, the laws which narrowly circumscribe or completely prohibit termination of pregnancy by qualified medical practitioners are an affront to human life and dignity; and
WHEREAS, these statutes drive many women in the United States and Canada to seek illegal abortions with increased risk of death, while others must travel to distant lands for lawful relief;
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED: That the Unitarian Universalist Association support enactment of a uniform statute making abortion legal if:
1. There would be grave impairment of the physical or mental health of the mother;
2. The child would be born with a serious physical or mental defect;
3. Pregnancy resulted from rape or incest;
4. There exists some other compelling reason — physical, psychological, mental, spiritual, or economic.