Comments by
Rev. Sara Lamar-Sterling
May 12, 2012 
New Haven Green


Good afternoon, I’m Rev. Sara Lamar-Sterling and I’m a member of the Connecticut Board of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.  RCRC is an interfaith organization committed to reproductive justice and health, empowering women and men to make decisions about whether and when to have and bear children within their own moral and religious traditions.
           
We are Up In Arms to celebrate mothers and defy attacks on women. This isn’t a sentimental greeting card.  Up In Arms is in the spirit that Julia Ward Howe had in mind when she made her Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870—a call to action by women, for women and for our families, our communities, and our nation, to establish well-being, justice and peace.

In honor of Mother’s day, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice gives thanks for family planning services that make it possible for women to choose whether and when to become mothers. We honor the whole experience of women’s reproductive power in its rich complexity of joys and heartbreaks.  And so we mourn with women whose children have died. We offer encouragement to women who face infertility and high-risk pregnancy. We support women who have chosen not to have children. We celebrate women who have become foster and adoptive parents.

And we stand with women who have made the difficult decision to have an abortion. 

In the last few months, a few religious voices have been claiming to speak for all people of faith
when they attack family planning and health care that includes contraceptive coverage and abortion. 
But theirs is not the only voice of the religious community and so today we are “Up In Arms” to defy these attacks on women.

There are many, many people of faith, like me, who believe that women must be entrusted with the information and the access to reproductive health care so that we can make wise choices for ourselves, our families, and our communities.  These are not decisions for church hierarchies or government officials, these are deeply personal ones!

I take my rights to my body very personally.  The ethics of my religion teach me to be responsible for myself, body, mind, and spirit, to be a good steward of all that God has given, including my sexuality and reproductive power. As a person of faith, I believe our society has responsibilities too: a responsibility to ensure that all people have access to the family planning they need.  This is a basic human right.   

Family planning and contraceptive services are critical for women’s reproductive health.  And that’s why I’m thankful that the Affordable Care Act supports women’s reproductive health and well-being.

Here in the US, a vast majority ofAmericans wantaccess to abortion to remain safe and legal. We want to practice birth control and we don't want pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraception.  We believe decisions about childbearing are personal and that government and religious institutions should not interfere with those decisions.  We really do believe these things, don’t we?   Don’t you?

Reproductive health services aren’t commodities to be solely consumed by the wealthy.  Access to reproductive health, in body, mind, and spirit, is a building block of well-being for individuals, families, communities, and nations.  When everyone has equal access to education and reproductive health care, we will have justice and we will live in peace. 

I invite people of faith gathered here today to get involved with RCRC. Clergy and laity can join the action network. And contact your elected representatives in state and federal government personally. 
Make your voice heard.  Our elected officials need to hear from people of faith that we are we are pro-faith, pro-family, and pro-choice.

Thank you for your support.  And thanks for being Up In Arms to celebrate mothers and defy attacks against women today!

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