Debra Haffner has attended plenty of Supreme Court rallies.
As co-founder and president of Religious Institute — the Westport-based organization that advocates for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society — she’s stood on the famed Washington steps. She’s demonstrated her — and her organization’s — commitment to access to contraception (the Hobby Lobby case) and same-sex marriage (Obergefell).
Yesterday, though, was the first time she had a spot on the podium.
The Center for Reproductive Rights — which represents medical caregivers in a case argued yesterday before the 8 justices (a Texas law would shut down more than 75% of all women’s health clinics that provide abortion services there) — organized the 4-hour rally.
Speakers included women from Texas who told their personal stories; healthcare providers, and a broad variety of faith leaders.
Haffner — who spoke soon after California Congresswoman Barbara Lee — noted that “people of faith of every religion support the right of individuals to make their own moral decisions.” She said that “clear majorities from almost every major religious tradition in the United States support safe and legal abortion.”
She said that Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Unitarians, Buddhists, Hindus — and “people who say they are spiritual but not religious” — support abortion.
In fact, she added, “1 in 3 evangelical Christians” support legal abortion.
Haffner noted that one of the 1st abortion clinics in the US was opened by clergy.
She said that abortion is not a sin. Rather, sins are “forced childbearing; denying people contraception, reproductive healthcare and sexuality education; and denying poor women, women of color and women in rural communities the same access to safe, accessible medical services that more privileged women have.”
Haffner — who is also community minister at Westport’s Unitarian Church — cited other sins too: poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and “ignoring the lives and needs of children who are already born for food, clean water, housing, health care, good education, and for their parents, support and good paying jobs.”
PBS Newshour led its evening broadcast last night with some of Haffner’s remarks (click here for link):
Haffner will retire on April 30. But until that day, she speaks loudly and strongly for the organization she founded.
Many people are listening. Last weekend, Religious Institute coordinated a national weekend of prayer. Nearly 100 congregations in 25 states — representing 19 faith traditions — prayed for everyone affected by reproductive laws. And for the Supreme Court justices who will rule on the case heard yesterday.
“People of faith support reproductive justice,” Haffner says. “The other side does not have a monopoly on this issue.”