Tag Archives: US Supreme Court

Rev. Haffner Rallies For Reproductive Rights

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.

Rev. Debra Haffner (center) speaking on the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday.

Rev. Debra Haffner (center) speaking on the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday.

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.

Rev. Debra Haffner

Rev. Debra Haffner

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):

Debra Hafner PBS News Hour

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.”

Judging Judge Sotomayor

“Sonia Sotomayor:  Good Nomination or Bad?”

Sounds like Fox News or MSNBC, reducing a complex, important question to a sound bite.

Nope.  It’s the title of last night’s lively discussion at the Westport Library.

TEAM Westport — our town’s diversity council — sponsored the forum, its 4th in a series on race and politics.

In small groups, over 2 dozen men and women debated topics like the political factors that led to Sotomayor’s nomination; her qualifications and temperament, and her potential impact on the Supreme Court.

Among the conclusions:

  • Sotomayor’s judicial record is not “pro-Hispanic”
  • There is no such thing as a completely objective decision — life experience and background always play a part
  • She has more judicial experience than most justices
  • Her selection is Obama’s payback to Hispanics
  • Stereotyping women, Catholics, Hispanics, liberals, conservatives — or anyone else — is  counterproductive
  • As a Hispanic and a woman, Sotomayor’s “persona” could change the dynamic on the court, and impact other justices
  • Her ability to deal with diabetes is a sign of strength and discipline
  • Sotomayor shows her “human-ness” — and may take heat for that

After lively discussion, the question — good nomination or bad? — was unanswered.  Opinions were divided.

Just like — hey! — the Supreme Court itself.

Library-goers debate the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

Library-goers debate the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.