Tag Archives: Reproductive Justice

a letter to Democratic Party leadership.

19 Dec

Power to the People

This letter was written after I sat in the Kentucky Statehouse today (12/19/2016) with my teenage kiddo as the Electoral College voted. In that room, I heard the Governor say he didn’t understand why people were protesting. I heard the head of the GOP party in the state talk about how Republicans have a mandate in the state. I watched the old white men who were the Electors (one woman out of 8) sign away our future as my child asked me what happens now. When I reached my car, I broke down in tears, and then wrote this letter.

Dear Democratic Party Leadership,

What happened? Where did you disappear to?

When HRC was running, you seemed to be all over the place trying to defend her. But since the election, it is as if you have been sucked into a vast black hole.

We need you. Our children need you. The entire country needs you.

We need you to be on the TV news, on the radio, and in the papers, boldly asserting that THIS IS NOT OKAY. It is not okay that HRC won by nearly 3 million votes and Trump is proclaiming a mandate. His selections for cabinet positions are not okay. His business conflicts of interest are not okay. Bringing his children to State meetings is not okay. Not getting intelligence briefings is not okay. Being infiltrated by Russian propaganda is not okay!! Having election results stand, knowing the Russians tampered with the election IS NOT OKAY!

Others have written about this – about how, if the situation were reversed, the GOP leaders would be pitching a fit. They would be everywhere: they would be filing lawsuits, they would be gathering committees to examine WTF is going on, they would be giving press conference upon press conference stating and restating ad nauseam their horror, disgust, and how THIS WILL NOT STAND.

And yet from you, crickets.

I know you are shocked. I know you don’t understand what happened. And I don’t care. YOU MUST LEAD US.

For years now, you have been moving to the middle, thinking a centrist position would serve you best. And now you know how wrong that is. Now you know that we are well divided between left and right and the center is kinda lonely. So get out of there and come to where your people are!

I hear the cries for leadership amongst our people. We are afraid. Immigrants are afraid of being deported, whether they are here legally or not. Black people are afraid of not being able to vote, and of continued violence. Muslims are afraid of having to sign up for a registry. Same-sex couples are afraid to lose the rights they have gained in the last decade. Trans people are afraid they will be beaten or killed for going to the bathroom. Women are afraid of being treated as incubators for lives that are apparently more important than ours. The working poor are afraid they will never achieve a livable wage. College graduates are afraid that they will never be able to pay off their educational loans*. And across the board, we are afraid that our government has been usurped by the Russians**.

Progressives have a compelling message, if you would just claim it. Claim your voice, proudly. Claim your values. Stop being so wishy-washy-wait-and-see because there is an army of us who are behind you and who will put our bodies on the line for our cause.

And if you realize that maybe we are actually too bold for you, if you find yourself confused by how upset we are and how scared we are and HOW ANGRY we are, or if you don’t have the courage to speak up, then may, just maybe, you need to get out of the way so that others can step up.

Sincerely,

Me, and probably a whole lot of other progressives desperate for leadership

 

* College enrollment has been steadily dropping since 2011.

** Russian popularity among Republicans has been skyrocketing, as shown in the tweet below.

faith & abortion.

25 Feb

On Tuesday, February 23, I spoke at a rally at the state capital organized by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. Though a Unity Prayer was included at the end, I was the only speaker to take a faith-based approach to the current issues facing the state.

Photo by Del Ramey. Proof that not only was I at the rally, I spoke quite expressively!

Photo by Del Ramey. Proof that not only was I at the rally, I spoke quite expressively!

None of the coverage of the event even mentions that there was a faith-based speaker present. I was not quoted. I was not listed among the speakers. And there are no pictures to show I was there, either. Nothing in the Courier Journal. Nothing in the State-Journal. Nothing in the coverage at either WDRB or WHAS. While others have been left out here and there, the teen Planned Parenthood Peer Educators and I are the only ones left out of the coverage entirely.

One might argue that this is coincidence, but I don’t think so. I think that just as people are uncomfortable hearing that teenagers actually have sex (*gasp!*), people are also uncomfortable hearing a religious leader speak frankly about the need for reproductive justice.

Being religious does not mean being against reproductive justice. Far from it. So here I offer my remarks.

Friends, We are under attack these days. Under attack as women, as parents, and as people of faith.

As we heard from the previous speakers, women are under attack. We are being told by politicians that we are neither moral enough nor intelligent enough to make the best healthcare decisions for ourselves, our families, and our communities. How are we still having to fight this fight?

We are also under attack as parents. Our young people are not being given the information they need to make informed decisions. As a mother, I see the onslaught of false messages teens get about sexuality. Where can teens go to find trustworthy information? We know knowledge is power, so Shouldn’t all people be given the opportunity to learn about healthy sexuality?

And as people of faith, we are particularly under attack by a small group of people who claim to lean on their religion when passing legislation around women’s reproductive health, when they impose their faith and values upon others who do not share their minority religious views. This is unjust!

People of faith believe sexuality is a gift. Many of us have been taught that we are made in the image of God. We celebrate the goodness of creation, including our bodies and our sexuality. Our faiths teach us that all persons have the right and responsibility to lead sexual lives that express love, mutuality, commitment, consent, and pleasure. When we celebrate our sexuality with holiness and integrity, we participate in a life-giving and life-fulfilling gift.

And it is important that we understand this gift! This means supporting science-based sexuality education programs that are age-appropriate, accurate, and truthful. Sexuality education that respects and empowers young people has more integrity than education based on incomplete information, fear, and shame.

Because our sexuality is a gift, our faiths teach us that we also deserve the tools to safely engage in it’s healthy expression. This means access to basic reproductive healthcare. But by closing or putting tight restrictions on facilitates, like Planned Parenthood, that provide access to inexpensive reproductive healthcare, politicians are reinforcing the message that our sexuality is something shameful, something that they should control rather than us as individuals.

My faith not only tells me that sexuality is a gift, it also tells me that that a woman is capable of making moral decisions about her sexuality. By taking these decisions out of the hands of women, the state is continuing a patriarchal, misogynistic practice. Once upon a time, religions taught that women were inferior to men, but that viewpoint has been out of touch for generations now and we must never go back. Each of us are created in the divine image, each of us given agency over our own bodies. Women must have the right and the ability to make decisions about our reproductive and sexual health. And abortion can be the best, most moral decision, a woman can make. In these instances, a women should not be shamed, subject to an invasive procedure, or forced to take additional days off work in order to have access to safe healthcare.

These measures are not compassionate. And yet compassion is the foundation for many of the worlds religions! Our legislators must develop Compassion for women in difficult times, making difficult decisions. The cruel, shaming legislation before our state now targets women who already have the least access to medical care. It forces women to schedule travel, take time off from work and pay for child care over the course of multiple days. How is this compassionate?

As people of faith, we stand in opposition to legislation that seeks to impose one small religious minority perspective on to all women in this state.

As people of faith, we affirm the moral agency of women and affirm that sexuality is a gift to be celebrated and cared for.

As people of faith, we affirm that all people should have the opportunity and the power to control their reproductive lives.

As people of faith who hold compassion, and not judgment, to be perhaps the most important religious tenant, we demand laws and policies that protect the rights and abilities of a woman to make decisions according to her own beliefs and conscience. All people must have the economic, social and political power to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families. May it be so.

And just to prove that I am not alone, here is the prayer that was delivered before the opening session of the legislature that same day by my friend and colleague, the Rev. Lauren Jones Mayfield:

Come and dwell among us, holy source of vision. We confess that we need you now as much as we have ever needed a stabilizing presence of compassion, empathy, thoughtfulness, and rational discourse. Into this session of legislative activity, I pray for these elected officials as they continue their deliberations. May the business that they conduct, the policies they support, and the notions they follow take steps in the direction of broadening your transformative and inclusive spirit.

Let them not be held hostage by the conventions of Republican or Democrat, but may your spirit of collaboration and gentleness bring them to new understandings of themselves as one body called to protect the vulnerable and uplift the downtrodden.

Come and dwell among us source of peace. When we are afraid or anxious we narrow our definition of your character and claim your presence as our own. Empower these law makers to rise above fear and retaliation. Help all of us to forego the easy road of blame and self-preservation; so that together we can unearth unity. The simplicity of viewing you and Jesus and other prophets sitting on lofty thrones in the heavens, looking down with contempt or joy, wrongly exemplifies the miracle of grace.

Instead, you call us to take seriously your engagement with your beloved children…in the streets of our cities and across the farmlands of our counties. You are living and active, as close as our breath. May these leaders breathe in your love and exhale your expansive and radical presence of generosity and inclusivity.

May these legislators work toward preserving the dignity of women in the quest for reproductive justice; may they honor the needs of those who are wrongly imprisoned.

May they demand equality for all Kentucky residents regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. May they believe that black lives matter. May our work be for those who are unable to be here to lobby and speak for themselves.

Come and dwell among us source of justice so that the democratic activity of today will bring liberation tomorrow. Inspire us to embody courage, wisdom, and empathy. These are qualities that you teach and long to return to us favorably. Amen.

Reproductive Justice

29 Jan

Reproductive Justice
A sermon by the Rev. Dawn Cooley
Delivered at First Unitarian Church, Louisville, KY on January 26, 2014

There is hardly an area of human life that we clergy don’t see our interactions with people. A person will come to us with when there is trouble in her family, when he has questions about a decision he is about to make, when she is not sure what to do next. People come to us to celebrate decisions to bind their lives together, they come when they mourn the loss of such a covenantal relationship, they come when they find themselves facing an a decision about whether to become a parent, or how to make that happen. You can go to your clergy person (me!) seeking guidance, discernment, and support (spiritual, emotional or financial). I don’t think there is an area of human life that clergy don’t see in our interactions with people. As such, we are on the front line when it comes to questions of how to have children, how not to have children, and how to raise children in a safe and healthy environment. And these are the questions fundamental to reproductive justice.

Reproductive justice recognizes that all people and communities should have the social, spiritual, economic and political means to experience the sacred gift of sexuality with health and wholeness. Rather than just telling the government to “butt-out,” reproductive justice asserts that government must have a central role in eliminating the many, many social inequalities that are related to reproductive oppressions.

What are reproductive oppressions? Year after year, in far too many states, there are proposals that go before state legislatures that seek to limit a person’s access to comprehensive sexuality eduction, seek to limit a person’s access to the full range of pregnancy-related healthcare, including contraception and abortion, and seek to deny critical family support.

Friday’s Courier-Journal had an excellent article by Amber Duke, which highlights some of the ways the KY legislature is seeking to impose more reproductive oppressions: Senate Bill 3 would require a woman to come to a clinic in person 24 hours before an abortion; House Bill 163 takes this even further and requires this extra meeting before even a medication prescription that would terminate a pregnancy; Senate Bill 8 would require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound AND require the doctor to tell her information even if she does not want to hear it; Senate Bill 57 would make it a crime in KY for a doctor to perform an abortion after 20 weeks.

Many of those seeking to further these reproductive oppressions claim that they do so on the basis of their religious tradition, or because their faith calls them to. This leads many, politicians and otherwise, to a severe misunderstanding that to be a religious person means to fit into a particular, narrow box, but that is just not the case. To be religious does not at all mean to oppose reproductive health, rights and justice. This is only one, small religious perspective.

Many people of a variety of religious perspectives, including Unitarian Universalism, support reproductive justice. This does not mean we agree all time the time – we don’t. Even within our faith tradition we disagree on particulars, on specifics. And this disagreement is okay – it is even healthy. This is why the Reproductive Justice Congregational Study/Action Item that we heard about in our reading asks questions rather than providing one-size-fits-all answers. However, what is not healthy, what is not just, is when one particular religious perspective gets written into law. When this happens, it removes an individual’s moral authority – a moral authority that all faith traditions support. When one particular, narrow religious perspective gets written into law, it removes a person’s ability to make choices according to his or her own religious beliefs and conscience. When one particular, narrow religious perspective gets written into law, it denies the reality that there are other religious perspectives that are crying for wholeness and justice.

Many people of a variety of religious perspectives, including Unitarian Universalism, support comprehensive, science-based sex education programs – like our OWL program which we heard about in our Moment for All Ages. In some religious traditions, people are taught that we are all made in the image of God. As Unitarian Universalists, we honor each person’s inherent worth and dignity. The Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing, which many faith leaders have endorsed, reminds us that we celebrate the goodness of creation, including our bodies and our sexuality. We believe “all persons have the right and responsibility to lead sexual lives that express love, justice, mutuality, commitment, consent, and pleasure.” When we celebrate our sexuality with holiness and integrity, we participate in a life-giving and life-fulfilling gift.

And it is important that we understand this gift! This means supporting science-based sexuality education programs that are age-appropriate, accurate, and truthful. People often need support in order to more fully develop their capacity for moral discernment. Sexuality education that respects and empowers people has more integrity than education based on incomplete information, fear, and shame. Programs that teach abstinence only and withhold information about pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease prevention fail our young people.

Our OWL facilitators shared with me some of their reasons for teaching OWL. Several shared that they appreciate the sex positive approach. One said “Having a healthy perspective on sexuality at a young age enables young people to grow into adulthood seeking positive relationships with others and making healthier decisions.” Another shared that “in the rape culture in which we live, it is critically important for everyone from kindergarten to adulthood to understand consent” which is covered extensively at every level of OWL . A common theme from our facilitators was that OWL helps participants become comfortable with their sexuality and that the benefits to this comfort are numerous.

Young people require the skills to make moral and healthy decisions about relationships for themselves now and in their future adult lives. They need help to develop the capacity for personal relationships that express love, justice, mutuality, commitment, consent, and pleasure. We believe that the ability to make informed, moral choices is a sacred part of what it means to be human. To respect a person means to give them accurate information they need to make a meaningful, moral decision about whether, when, and how to parent. Comprehensive, science-based sexuality education gives people the help and skills they need.

In addition to comprehensive sexuality education, many people of a variety of religious perspectives, including Unitarian Universalism, support access to the full range of pregnancy-related healthcare, including contraception and abortion. The decision about becoming a parent is one of the largest decisions a person will make. And yet a small group of religious conservatives wants to limit and restrict access to healthcare services that would best help someone make the decision about whether or not they are able to parent.

As Rev. Thom Belote points out “An employer may have a moral opposition to alcohol, but no employer is trying to deny [healthcare] coverage for liver transplants. An employer may have a moral opposition to smoking, but no employer is trying to deny [healthcare] coverage for lung cancer. An employer may have a moral opposition to red meat, but not a single employer is trying to deny [healthcare] coverage for colon cancer. Why is this?” It is because these conditions are seen as a part of healthcare, but contraception is viewed by a small group of people not as healthcare, but as part of their narrow religious agenda.

It is unacceptable for our laws to willingly and consistently single out women, particularly low-income women, specifically for the purposes of denying access to healthcare. And this is the situation right now with abortion and lack of access to contraception. By making a woman take time off not just one day but two days for a medically unnecessary ultrasound the day before an abortion; Or by allowing doctors and pharmacies to put limits on what medically necessary healthcare treatment, services, and pharmaceuticals they provide; By making it harder for a woman in need to access these services the government is putting up barriers that are unjust and unfair. Besides, as Derek Selznick points out in todays’ Courier-Journal, providing family planning services would actually SAVE the United States $4.3 BILLION annually in maternity and infant care!

We see this injustice in the growing Catholic hospital system. Between the years of 2001 and 2010, the number of Catholic non-profit hospitals in the United States grew by 16%. During this same time, other nonprofit and public hospitals saw a serious decline. Catholic hospitals now make up 10 of the largest 25 healthcare systems in this country. The Ethical and Religious Directives, issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, govern medical care at all Catholic hospitals — “and influence care at secular hospitals that merge or affiliate with Catholic providers. The directives ban elective abortion, sterilization, and birth control and restrict fertility treatments, genetic testing, and end-of-life options.” However, they do not stop there. “Depending on the hospital and the local bishop, they may also be interpreted to limit crisis care for women suffering miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, emergency contraception for sexual assault, and even the ability of doctors and nurses to discuss treatment options or make referrals.” This is reproductive oppression, particularly for low-income women who may not have access to a high-priced for-profit hospital.

Instead, we seek reproductive justice. We understand compassion to be at the core of our relationships with one another. We may have different beliefs about abortion, and still agree to respect a woman’s right to make decisions according to her own beliefs, according to her own conscience.

A common theme across religious traditions is the importance of caring for people who, for reasons of poverty, race, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status or other factors, struggle against hardship and oppression. This ethical obligation to justice is central to our understanding of faith, and it calls us to eliminate the enormous disparities which exist in access to reproductive healthcare.

Finally, many people of a variety of religious perspectives, including Unitarian Universalism, support healthy families. Our children are not just our future, they are our present. It is the seat of hypocrisy for lawmakers to deny access to contraception and abortion and then penalize families by cutting access to childcare and other supportive services. When food stamp programs are cut and no alternate plan is put in place, then children go to school hungry. And people then wonder why these hungry kids can’t sit still, or can’t learn? People wonder why their test scores are low?

Safe, affordable childcare is also important. When parents don’t have access to reliable, affordable childcare, they are often forced to take unpaid time off to care for children. Kentucky’s child care subsidy program for low-income working families has almost 20% fewer children participants than a year ago due to cuts – but what do you think is happening to those families who relied on this support in order to work or go to school? They are forced to make impossible choices that put their children and their futures at risk.

A family also deserves access to decent, affordable housing. There is a direct link between the stability of a child’s home situation and how well they do in school. It will be interesting to see what becoming an “Innovation District” will do for Jefferson County Public Schools when recent reports are that more than 10% of the students in Jefferson County are homeless.

Because of our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of each person, we are called to create a world where every individual and every family can have access to what they need to thrive. In the United States, we say it is the role of government to ensure domestic tranquility and to promote the general welfare. It is not the job of the government to impose one set of religious views on everyone, but instead to protect each person’s right and ability to make decisions according to their own beliefs.

Reproductive justice is a complex issue that requires a complex response. To pursue reproductive justice means to ask many questions, like How do power structures limit individuals’ access to reproductive justice? Or How can eliminating racism, classism and sexism reduce the need for abortion and enable families to care for the children they do have? Our role is not to stand in judgment of someone in whose shoes we have not walked, not to pressure others to accept our views, but to walk with those in need as they find their own path. It is not acceptable when one group has it’s views written into law such that other people are denied the ability to make their own decisions. Instead, all people deserve to have the social, spiritual, economic and political means to experience the sacred gift of sexuality with health and wholeness. May it be so. May our justice seeking help to make it so.

Reproductive Justice

6 Nov

On November 2, 2013, I spoke at the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights.  Here is what I said.

KY Road Rally There is hardly an area of human life that clergy don’t see our interactions with people. We are on the front line when it comes to questions of how to have children, how not to be pregnant, and how to raise children in a safe and healthy environment. Because these are some of the meaning-of-life questions that people struggle with. And these are also the questions fundamental to reproductive justice.

Reproductive justice recognizes that all people and communities should have the social, spiritual, economic and political means to experience the sacred gift of sexuality with health and wholeness. Rather than just telling the government to “butt-out,” reproductive justice asserts that government must have a central role in eliminating the myriad social inequalities that are related to reproductive oppressions.

Reproductive justice is why we are gathered here at the rally today. In Kentucky, year after year there are proposals that continue to go before the legislature that would seek to limit a person’s access to comprehensive sexuality eduction, seek to limit a person’s access to the full range of pregnancy-related healthcare, including contraception and abortion, and seek to deny critical family support. Many of those seeking to further these reproductive oppressions claim that they do so on the basis of their religious tradition, or because their faith calls them to do so. This leads many politicians and voters to a severe misunderstanding that to be a person of faith means to fit into a particular, narrow box. But that is just not the case.

Many, many people of faith support reproductive justice. Many of us even find it to be a core principle of our faith. This does not mean supporters of reproductive justice agree with each other all of the time – we don’t. Even within a specific faith tradition, we often disagree on particulars. But this disagreement is healthy because it encourages further discussion and exploration. What is not healthy, what is not just, is when one particular religious perspective gets written into law. When this happens, it removes a person’s ability to make choices according to his or her religious beliefs and conscience. When one particular, narrow religious perspective gets written into law, it denies the reality that there are other faith perspectives that are crying for wholeness and justice.

Such is the case with sexuality education. Many people of faith DO support comprehensive, science-based sex education. In some of our traditions, we are taught that we are made in the image of God. We celebrate the goodness of creation, including our bodies and our sexuality. We believe “all persons have the right and responsibility to lead sexual lives that express love, justice, mutuality, commitment, consent, and pleasure.”* When we celebrate our sexuality with holiness and integrity, we participate in a life-giving and life-fulfilling gift.

And it is important that we understand this gift! This means supporting science-based sexuality education programs that are age-appropriate, accurate, and truthful. “Programs that teach abstinence exclusively and withhold information about pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease prevention fail our young people.”* Sexuality education that respects and empowers young people has more integrity than education based on incomplete information, fear, and shame.

“Our culture too often models sexuality without responsibility, and many adolescents are left on their own to struggle through these conflicting sexual messages. It is with adult guidance and comprehensive information and education about sexuality that young people are able to make responsible decisions; education that includes what consent means and who can give it, that includes abstinence, contraception, and STD prevention.” This type of education gives a person the skills to make moral and healthy decisions about relationships for themselves now and in their future adult lives.

People of faith also support access to the full range of pregnancy-related healthcare services, including contraception and abortion. The decision about becoming a parent is one of the biggest decisions a person will make. And yet a small group of religious conservatives want to limit and restrict access to healthcare services that would best help someone make the decision about whether or not they want to parent. Contraception and abortion are viewed by this faction not as health care services, but as part of their narrow religious agenda.

It is unacceptable for our laws to willingly and consistently single out women, particularly low-income women, specifically for the purposes to denying access to healthcare. And this is the situation right now with lack of access to contraception and abortion. By making it harder for a woman in need to access these services, by making her take time off not just one day but also for a medically unnecessary ultrasound, by allowing doctors and pharmacies to put limits on what healthcare treatment, services, and pharmaceuticals they provide, the government is putting up barriers that are unjust and unfair.

As people of faith, we understand compassion to be at the core of our relationships with one another. We may have different personal and religious beliefs about abortion, and still agree to respect a woman’s right to make decisions according to her own beliefs, according to her own conscience.**

As people of faith, we believe that the ability to make informed, moral choices is a sacred part of what it means to be human. To respect a person means to give them accurate information they need to make a meaningful, moral decision about whether and how to parent.

As people of faith, we also support healthy families. We believe that each person has inherent worth and dignity. For some of us, this comes as having been created in the image of God. For others, it comes to us by virtue of simply being human. Because of this, we are called to create a world where every individual and every family can have access to what they need to thrive. It is the seat of hypocrisy for lawmakers to deny access to contraception and abortion and then further penalize families by cutting access to childcare and other supportive services. When food stamp programs are cut, children go to school hungry and then some wonder why they can’t learn. When parents don’t have access to reliable, affordable childcare, they are often forced to take unpaid time off to care for children, furthering the cycle of poverty. A family also deserves access to decent, affordable housing. There is a direct link between the stability of a child’s home situation and how well they do in school. When we deny a child food, childcare, or stable housing, how can we expect that child to thrive? How can we expect that family to thrive?

Families deserve better. In the United States, it is the role of government, not to impose one set of religious views on everyone, but to protect each person’s rights, each family’s rights.

Legislators, please: listen to your constituents. All of them. Reproductive justice is a complex issue that requires a complex response. Families deserve better than passing one narrow religious perspective as law. And doing so is unethical and unjust. It does not recognize the moral agency of your constituents who find themselves faced with these difficult, life-changing decisions every day. It is not acceptable when one group has it’s views written into law such that other people are denied the ability to make their own moral decisions. Our laws and policies should protect the rights and abilities of each person to make decisions according to their own beliefs and conscience.

To those of you out there who perhaps feel alone in the struggle for reproductive justice, know that you are not! There are many, many of us who find that our faith encourages us to have a deep concern about perennial legislative failures to mandate science-based sexuality education and child care services, and are concerned about the equally predictable efforts to block access to reproductive health care, including abortion and contraception. To those who feel alone, you are not, and your voice matters. People of faith support reproductive justice!

We rally today as people from across Kentucky, from various faith traditions ranging from atheist to evangelical, from pagan to Pentecostal, from unaffiliated to Unitarian Universalist, but in common we have a vision of a Kentucky where all people and all communities have the social, spiritual, economic and political means to experience the sacred gift of sexuality with health and with wholeness. May it be so.

————–

Please note: Due to the nature of this speech, I did not attribute my quotes as well as I normally would have. The following are specifically quoted:
* Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Sexuality Education
** Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Abortion as a Moral Decision

Other inspiration came from the following sources, which I highly recommend you check out:

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