(Reproductive rights are under attack across the country, and Denver held a march for womxn — including trans women and non-binary individuals — in solidarity with womxn in Texas opposing the latest anti-abortion law. The following is the speech delivered by the Rev. Tamara Boynton, Interfaith’s director of strategic partnerships, at the Denver Womxn’s March for reproductive rights on October 2, 2021.)
Greetings, everyone! It is beautiful to see you all here. My name is Rev. Tamara Boynton and I am the director of strategic engagement at Interfaith Alliance of Colorado.
At Interfaith, we can say unequivocally that our country and our state is made up of diverse religious communities with diverse positions on abortion.
As an interfaith organization, we know that reproductive agency, that is to say: when, where, with whom, and how to reproduce is a moral good. And it is based on a host of factors including personal, the situation, health, complications, family, economics, access, support, and faith. Those are all parts of how we make the critical decisions in our lives. This conversation is happening and has been happening from the beginning in the faith community, but not loudly enough in some faith communities.
We work in advocacy and education to counter any narrative that tries to limit legal rights in exchange for an expansion of religious oppression. We work to counter those religious narratives that confuse communal, legal, human, healthcare rights for individual religious convictions. They are not the same, thank God, in this country.
At Interfaith Alliance, we seek collective liberation. Principles of liberation are designed to free us to practice how we choose to be a faithful person and how we choose to live our lives without government intimidation or control. This freedom in the reproductive sphere frees every single one of us.
Three parts to my passion around this topic:
The personal. As a pastor, I am deeply pained by how this topic and the hurtful, shame-filled, harmful ways it is talked about affects individual people who are making the right decisions for themselves, their families, and their bodies. It harms their hearts. It harms their being. It harms their spirits. It harms all our spirits.
We all make decisions with own complex processes. What considerations and experiences are part of that is central to how we thrive, survive and live. It is absolutely unconscionable for a person to presume to make that decision for another or worse to shame them, demean them and stigmatize them for it.
Why don’t we force every person with a uterus to bear a child during their 22nd year? Or why don’t we force every man to father at least three children by the time they are 30? Because we actually believe that people should be able to decide when to have family, with whom to have to family, and what criteria makes them ready to have a family. Abortion restrictions do not save lives; they coerce birth.
They put the government, and now in Texas, they put your very neighbor, in the position of dictating lives, controlling uteruses, and disregarding the outcomes that you alone face. This is unholy. This is spiritual harm.
We seek collective liberation.
The second part that matters to me about this conversation is the systemic: I want to name how abortion is a strategic, lightening rod issue born out of perpetuating white supremacy culture and following a 400 year history – or rather – her story of controlling, using, abusing Black bodies, brown bodies, women’s bodies, LGBTQ+ bodies. It is one singular moment in time and completely disregards the many systemic issues that create environments in which abortion is the best or only option: systems of inequity, abuse, oppression, poverty, intimidation, control, and violence. As we all know abortion restrictions do not reduce abortions; they reduce safe, medically supported abortions.
The third part is the political. We can see that the level of conversation about this topic is captured in simplistic sound bites and does not address the complexity. Why? Because single issue topics demean us all. They prevent us from coming together to listen to each other, to understand each other, to support each other. They serve to isolate. This is not about life; it is about control. Control of our spirits through shame, control of our bodies through systemic oppression, and control of our minds through spoon fed outrage.
We can do better. We must do better.
The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado is horrified that the Supreme Court allowed TX SB8 to stand and that it is one month in. It is not just an attempt to restrict abortion access for pregnant people; it sanctions vigilante violence, economic oppression, and legal weaponry in order to isolate and control. It is a giant step backward for our Constitutional rights and our human rights.
We know that abortion restrictions are not equally felt across demographics. They are borne most heavily by BIPOC people, transgender people, those who face economic hardship, healthcare providers, and care-givers. They are borne most heavily by those with economic uncertainty, those living in poverty, those working multiple jobs to get food on the table for the children they already have.
Did you know that 6 in 10 women who have abortions are already mothers?
And that 1 in 4 women have an abortion? This is all of us.
The reasons are varied – but they are all legitimate for that person, it is a moral choice, and they deserve support. And, when you make decisions about your life, we will support you, too. Our work in support of reproductive health, rights, and justice in Colorado centers faith-rooted values of love, respect, dignity, agency, and freedom and our commitment is unwavering.
If you are able, please support the organizations represented here. If you are a person of faith, speak up and speak out because we need to elevate this conversation. It is complex and we need to bring the faith voice that is grounded in the complexity and the gray areas of God’s presence into the mix. We seek collective liberation, my friends. Thank you.