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If Amendment 1 passes, women will suffer

October 15, 2018

This is a critical moment for people of faith to lift our voices and call on elected leaders and community members to protect health care for those in need and take a stand against Amendment 1, a constitutional ballot initiative in West Virginia that threatens a woman’s right to make her own deeply personal pregnancy decisions.

My faith tradition calls us to stand up for justice and to ensure equitable access to healthcare, including safe and legal abortion care. In standing with the Vote No on Amendment 1 coalition, faith leaders across the state are following in the longstanding tradition of clergy championing access to reproductive health care. We must be bold in defending our health and families and defeat Amendment 1. If we choose not to do so, we are failing our neighbors our communities and our loved ones.

We should all be able to agree that women are moral agents whose conscience-based decisions should be protected and respected. A woman’s decision to continue a pregnancy is deeply personal. We trust West Virginia women to understand their unique circumstances and to make the moral decision best for their lives, families and futures.

In politics there may be room for denying health care to people or privileging one set of beliefs over another, but my faith teaches me that it is unjust and immoral. I believe in real religious freedom: the freedom of religion and freedom from religion. Imposing one view or belief on another violates the very core of my religious tradition — and that is exactly what Amendment 1 does.

I am compelled by my faith to confront the oppressive values that underlie Amendment 1. It eschews love, generosity and kindness in favor of a cynical and immoral attack on women and families. I cannot in good conscience support Amendment 1 — which would take away safe and legal abortion care from women in West Virginia under any circumstance — and I know the majority of West Virginians share my deep concerns.

Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, I have been actively involved in securing women’s access to healthcare and women’s rights for equal treatment under the laws of our constitution. My faith restores my continuing effort to secure these rights for my own granddaughters and the women of the future. We cannot go back but must use education, laws and justice to guide our healthcare choices.

Our faith requires action in the face of injustice. We cannot sit by silently while women and families hang in the political balance — it is morally imperative that we use our voices to speak out for our neighbors and on behalf of our communities. I urge people of faith to join me by voting no on Amendment 1 this November because it’s not up to politicians to make these personal, intimate decisions on our behalf.

We can choose to abandon the teachings of our faith and ignore the women who will suffer if Amendment 1 is passed, or we can stand up for justice and equitable access to healthcare. I hope you will stand with me and vote no on Amendment 1.

Rev. Bonnie Boyce is a Huntington resident and a retired Presbyterian minister.