Friday, February 26, 2010

Global Reproductive Justice: Theological Considerations

Yesterday, I convened a colloquium of theologians from around the world to help the Religious Institute develop a new "Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Women's Lives: Global Reproductive Health Justice."

It was a remarkable group in its brilliance, commitment to these issues, and cultural and religious diversity. I am so grateful to Dr. Ghazala Anwar, Dr. Mary Hunt, Dr. Azza Karram, Ruth Messinger, Dr. Fulata Moyo, Dr. Maria Jose Rosado Nunes, Jon O'Brien, Dr. Mercy Oduyoye, Dan Pellegrom, Rev. Dr. Rebecca Todd Peters, Rabbi Mychal Springer, and Katey Zeh for braving the New York city weather to be with us for a day.

We started from the premise that a half million women dying each year in childbirth or from complications of pregnancy and child birth, when most of their deaths are preventable, is a moral outrage. Dr. Karram reminded us that that's one woman every minute of every day. Dan Pellegrom pointed out that if men were as likely to die from the results of sexual intercourse, the world would have paid attention and done something a long time ago.

Despite coming from diverse perspectives, we agreed quickly on some core principles. Life is sacred. Women's moral agency must be respected and supported. Men are critical partners in these efforts. Losing women to childbirth harms families and communities, and diminishes us all. Religious leaders must educate themselves, their congregations, and policy makers about the need to assure that women have the comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services they need.

We'll be turning all of this into a new Open Letter, but in the meantime, you can get involved. Sign your congregation up to participate in the Rachel Sabbath Initiative at our web site. Educate yourself with our fact sheets and resources. Tell a friend. Get involved.

In the five minutes it's taken you to read this, five women died unnecessarily. You can help change that.

1 comment:

Desmond Ravenstone said...

Too many of the online discussions around women's reproductive health and self-determination revolve exclusively around contraception and abortion access. But there's also the issue of providing girls and young women with greater educational and economic opportunities. The data clearly shows that this has a direct impact on women's health generally, and reproductive health in particular.