In the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Healthcare Center Supreme Court decision, I can’t help but be fearful of the future. What will the future look like for women who look like me, who could be me, and no longer have control over their reproductive rights — women who are now being forced to carry to term, despite whether their lives may be at risk, or they’re victims of sexual abuse or they just do not want to be pregnant? As a Black, cisgender, heterosexual woman, I am terrified for the lives that will inevitably be lost due to this decision.
Living in a country where I am constantly losing rights, facing systemic oppression and endemic discrimination, I can’t help but look back to the over 200 years of institutionalized slavery where people who looked like me were deprived of the right to even be considered human. And I am not alone. It is no coincidence that Christian nationalists are fighting so hard to deprive people who look like me of the rights that we fought to gain from them. Stripping me of my reproductive rights is just bringing them one step closer to their goal, of having me in chains again. This is why the fight for reproductive rights is so indebted to the right for religious freedom; these injustices are inextricably linked.
Religious freedom entails that everyone has the right to practice – or not practice – the religion of their choice, as long as they are not harming anyone. For religious freedom to exist, there needs to be a separation of church and state. Laws cannot be passed that are based on the tenets of any particular religion. Tax dollars cannot be used to support any particular religion. Public schools should not impose any religious teachings in their curriculum. With the recent Supreme Court decisions, the separation of church and state is no longer just blurred, it is seriously eroded.
What does this mean for Americans United’s mission of “Freedom Without Favor, Equality Without Exception”? Well, it means that the fight for separation of church and state just got so much larger. Religious freedom is reproductive justice. Religious freedom is LGBTQ+ rights. Religious freedom is anti-racist.
For religious freedom to truly be this dynamic, the fight for it must be as well. Religious freedom needs to go beyond the courts, to the streets, and that starts with you and me. Any action can move us closer to our goal of religious freedom, whether it is sharing the mission of Americans United with a friend, creating content on social media, or just educating yourself. Be a part of the reason why this country moves forward, and not backward.