Reverend Dr. Rebecca Edmiston-Lange
Rev. Edmiston-Lange is a Unitarian Universalist minister in Houston, Texas.
Unitarian Universalism, as part of the free religious tradition, has historically
and consistently stressed the inherent worth and dignity of every person and
the right of individual conscience in matters of religious faith and practice.
While Unitarian Universalists draw religious wisdom from many and varied sources,
we believe that the test of any religious position is an individual's own
direct experience of the good, the holy and the true. Because of that starting
point, Unitarian Universalism supports a woman's right of choice in reproductive
matters, including the right to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
Unitarian Universalists have a deep and abiding reverence for life. But we
recognize, also, that life is always lived in relationship. Thus, we maintain
that moral decisions can never be made in a vacuum but are, instead, always
made in the context of competing claims for attention to the quality of life.
Women's choices in reproductive matters are morally complex. Such choices
can be very difficult, even the occasion for grieving and a profound sense
of loss. Nonetheless, the difficulty of such choices does not mean that they
cannot also be a faithful and morally affirmative response to what a woman
perceives to be holy and just. Women are, inherently, moral agents, as are
all people, and they are capable of subtle and sensitive moral discernment.
On a pastoral level, Unitarian Universalist ministers would never seek to
impose upon an individual woman a certain pre-ordained course of action in
matters of reproductive choice. Rather, they would try to companion her in
her quest to discern for herself what is right-given her particular circumstances,
the web of relationships in which she lives and all that she holds to be sacred.
On the societal level, the Unitarian Universalist Association has steadfastly
opposed any attempt by the state to legislate one particular vision of morality
in the arena of reproductive choices. Recognizing that we live in a pluralistic
society and that different faith traditions have different approaches and
teachings regarding this area of human living, Unitarian Universalism has
supported legislation which guarantees the fundamental right of choice in
reproductive matters. Moreover, Unitarian Universalism has also begun to raise
questions about the inequalities in the availability and distribution of reproductive
services. Unless women of all strata of society have access to a wide range
of safe and affordable reproductive services which honor a woman's inherent
dignity, the right to choose remains an abstract and meaningless right. A
"choice" which cannot be exercised in a safe, accessible, supportive and affordable
manner is no choice at all.