Hope Is Giving Birth in the Face of the Dragon by Beth Bartlett

Syrian Baby

The image of the baby born under the rubble of the earthquake in Syria has been haunting me. So has the image in my mind of her mother, giving birth to her baby while trapped after the building, where she, her husband, and their children were sleeping, collapsed.  The baby’s uncle, when digging through the debris hoping to reach his brother and family, found the baby alive, her umbilical cord still attached to her mother. When he cut the cord, the baby let out a cry.  Tragically, her mother had died after giving birth, as had her father and siblings.

Continue reading “Hope Is Giving Birth in the Face of the Dragon by Beth Bartlett”

Women’s March in CA 1/22/23 by Marie Cartier

WOMENS MARCH, Long Beach, California on the 50th anniversary of the passing of Roe v Wade,
January 22, 2023

Continue reading “Women’s March in CA 1/22/23 by Marie Cartier”

On the Pertinence of Ritual by Anonymous

Art by Jaysen Waller

This post started as a comment to Annie Finch’s part 1 of Abortion As A Sacrament post.  Realizing it was a story that was getting too long, I’m sharing it here as a reiteration of the practical significance of ritual, and finding our way through the no-longer-charted territories of being a female human — in the sense that if we were a female of any other animal form, we would still know exactly how to navigate all the challenges.

I had a years-long pregnancy-related experience in which ritual was the only thing to finally bringing closure, though the real issue was more the other being’s feelings or intent than mine. About a year after the birth of my only child, still nursing full time and using what should have been sufficient birth control, I became pregnant and aborted at Planned Parenthood. I had been well along, not having suspected anything because my menses hadn’t yet returned. 

At the time, there was no debate in my mind, if I had added another responsibility to my already excessive load, I would have failed at everything, the most important being my daughter.

Continue reading “On the Pertinence of Ritual by Anonymous”

“Guns: The Sanctity of Life” by Marie Cartier

What can I say about guns?

I want to be like Gabby Giffords and survive

I want to be Emma Gonzalez and fight back

I want to be

I want to talk about how GUNS are less regulated

than my body

Guns can leave any state and travel to another state

and kill someone

I hate talking about guns

Continue reading ““Guns: The Sanctity of Life” by Marie Cartier”

From Footbinding to Abortion and Beyond – This Has to Stop! by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

My husband, Marty, is a retired podiatrist.  He worked in pockets of New York City that were poor and largely immigrant. When he first started his practice, he treated women from China whose feet had been bound. Despite being officially outlawed 1912, footbinding was still being practiced well into modern times. He saw these patients in the 1970s and 80s.

For those who don’t know what it is, young girls, as young as 3-5 would have the bones in their feet broken and then the feet bound with cloth strips. Every few years, the feet would be broken again until the desired result was created. To create that affect, the toes would be flattened against the bottom of the foot and arch would be so broken and damaged that the heel would curl back to the front of the foot. At each of the breakings the girl would need to learn to walk again.  One can only imagine that pain of walking on foot bones that had been repeatedly broken. And here is an especially chilling part. The mothers would do it to their own daughters. I won’t go into further gruesome details because they can be easily looked up on the internet.  It left the girls crippled for life.

Continue reading “From Footbinding to Abortion and Beyond – This Has to Stop! by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

A Chorus of Need: I Need an Abortion by Marie Cartier

I need an abortion and I can’t get one

Because I don’t have the money to fly somewhere else other than …here

Where I can’t get one

I need an abortion and I can’t get one

Because the kid, or the cells of a maybe kid, were put in here by the guy that raped me and if I have to have it, I will kill myself

I need an abortion and I can’t get one

Because I have four kids already and I can’t feed another one

I need an abortion and I can’t get one

Because it’s my dad’s…did you hear me say that? I have never said that. I have never said what he does to me…and now I have to show everyone… if I can’t get this out of me I will…

I have to get this thing out of me

I need an abortion and I can’t get one

Continue reading “A Chorus of Need: I Need an Abortion by Marie Cartier”

Post-Roe Dirge by Liz Cooledge Jenkins

I have seen a sad thing.

Faces twisted in strange (un)righteous anger outside a clinic

Or sitting around the dinner table laughing

Like the world was not just shaken gravely beneath the feet of half of them

(No, all of them)

(No, all of us)

Or shouts of celebration when a wail of grief is due.

We played the pipe for you and you did not dance.

We sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.[1]

(What is wrong with them?

What has gone so wrong with us?)

Continue reading “Post-Roe Dirge by Liz Cooledge Jenkins”

Inspired by Carol P. Christ: Patriarchy Rules the Supreme Court by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

Along with the words of Justices Sotomayer, Breyer and Kagan.

The Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe was expected, but there was nothing that could prepare me (nor likely anyone else) for the devastation of the actual decision. My gut is reeling. I thought it would be useful to survey the landscape through the lens of patriarchy. Thanks to Carol Christ for having always written insightful comments about the roles of patriarchy. This is inspired by her work.

The dissenting judges were quite eloquent, so I will work off their words.

  • “Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens.”
  • “After today, young women will come of age with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers had. The majority accomplishes that result without so much as considering how women have relied on the right to choose or what it means to take that right away. The majority’s refusal even to consider the life-altering consequences of reversing Roe and Casey is a stunning indictment of its decision.”

My Commentary: Through the eyes of patriarchy here is no need to consider life-altering consequences because it only recognizes two roles for women: madonna or whore. We are never seen as full humans with civil and independent rights. Patriarchy doesn’t just hate the sexual freedom of women, it has spent millennia trying to quash it, make it into something dirty, control it. It’s a love/hate relationship with sex. Rape is really OK (look how hard it is to prosecute). Pedophilia OK too (look at the church). But a woman making her own sexual, reproductive choices . . . a bridge too far. Patriarchy will always force us to pay a price for having sex, for being alluring, for being female.

Continue reading “Inspired by Carol P. Christ: Patriarchy Rules the Supreme Court by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

A Poem for Our Abortion Rights by Marie Cartier

Fecundity: the ability to produce an abundance of new growth, but also the ability to produce new ideas

And now in the hour of our discontent, we are asked to worry about

fecundity. I suppose we can call it that—have we made enough babies yet?

As a people. A people ruled by patriarchy. No small thing. “A social system in which males dominate and hold primary power.”

Oh my god—am I sick of it? Anyone with a brain is sick of it…I want to think.

But they have brains, right? The afore mentioned patriarchs? Who are

creating this new social system?

A meme goes out on social media—I’m not pro-murder I’m pro-Ellen, thirteen years old and pregnant by her father

I’m pro-Margaret, with five kids and I cannot to afford to feed another

I’m pro-Eliza, pregnant with a baby known to have serious birth defects

I’m pro– you get the idea.

Continue reading “A Poem for Our Abortion Rights by Marie Cartier”

I’m Not “Fit” to Judge Another Woman’s “Fit”ness by Liz Cooledge Jenkins

In recent conversations around abortion rights—spurred by a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade—everyone has opinions. The financially comfortable, often-white, often-evangelical women in my circles have opinions. And these opinions often involve the lives and choices of materially poor women and women of color.

            In her recent book The Trouble with White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism, Rutgers University professor Kyla Schuller profiles seven pairs of feminist activists over the last two hundred years. Each pair includes one woman who operated from a framework of white feminism—a framework that, according to Schuller, “consistently…wins more rights and opportunities for white women through further dispossessing the most marginalized.” And each pair includes a woman who embodied intersectional feminism—a feminism that “expose[s] sexism to be a powerful structure of systemic inequality and attempt[s] to untangle its deep threads with other forms of domination, while also building new practices of care, coalition, faith, and solidarity.”[1] This is not just history but a live tension in the present day.

Continue reading “I’m Not “Fit” to Judge Another Woman’s “Fit”ness by Liz Cooledge Jenkins”

photo essay, part 2: bans off our bodies rally by Marie Cartier

photos from bans off our bodies rally, long beach ca may 14, 2022

all photos by: marie cartier

BIO: Marie Cartier is a teacher, poet, writer, healer, artist, and scholar. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University; and a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.

Moderator’s note: This is the 2nd of the two part series. Part 1 was posted yesterday.

Continue reading “photo essay, part 2: bans off our bodies rally by Marie Cartier”

photo essay, part 1: bans off our bodies rally by Marie Cartier

photos from bans off our bodies rally, long beach ca may 14, 2022

all photos by: marie cartier

BIO: Marie Cartier is a teacher, poet, writer, healer, artist, and scholar. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University; and a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.

moderator’s note: There are so many powerful photos that they will be posted in two parts, today and tomorrow.

Continue reading “photo essay, part 1: bans off our bodies rally by Marie Cartier”

From the Archives: Abortion–the topic that won’t go away–or even morph

This was originally posted on March 12, 2014. It was Esther’s first FAR post.

Recently, I got involved in a conversation about abortion.  It happened on Facebook when a relative posted that her heart hurts when she considers her “sweet baby girl” and how the law (Roe v. Wade, 1973) in the United States gave her the choice as to “whether [or not] I would have her killed.”  She’s sincere.  Many of her friends “liked” her post and, with few exceptions, commented in agreement.  I was one of the exceptions.

March celebrates Women’s History Month–a month to remember the accomplishments of our foremothers, noting their work helping to secure for us (their progeny) certain rights, most notably the right to vote (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1815-1902) and reproductive rights (Margaret Sanger, 1879-1966).  Support for abortion nowadays almost always falls under the rubric of “women’s reproductive rights.”  So when we hear, “It’s my body and I’ll decide what I’ll do with my own body,” the speaker is giving voice to what many consider to be a fundamental right–the right to be autonomous and exercise free agency over one’s own person.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Abortion–the topic that won’t go away–or even morph”

Women’s Autonomy and Well-Being v. the Patriarchy by Elizabeth Ann Bartlett

A recently leaked draft of the US Supreme Court’s opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization suggests that the court is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade. Most people know the legal consequence of Roe, but few know the grounds for the decision. The focus was on the “important and legitimate interest” the state has in preserving and protecting the health of the pregnant woman. Defining “health” broadly, Justice Blackmun wrote:

            The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent. Specific and direct harm medically diagnosable even in early pregnancy may be involved. Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it. In other cases, . . . the additional difficulties and continuing stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved. (410 U.S. 113, 1973) 

Psychological, physical, familial, social, present and future health of the woman are all to be taken into consideration. I would add to this the spiritual well-being of the woman, for this is a deeply personal spiritual decision as well.

Continue reading “Women’s Autonomy and Well-Being v. the Patriarchy by Elizabeth Ann Bartlett”

From the Archives: Rape is Not a Political Platform – Rape is a Violent Crime! By Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade. They tend to get lost in the archives. We are beginning this column so that we can revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted August 23, 2012. You can visit it here to see the original comments.

Just when you think you have heard it all, here we go again – another politician with “open mouth-insert foot” syndrome.  Discussing his zero-tolerance policy for abortion, Missouri Representative Todd Akin made the following statement last Sunday about pregnancies that result from rape:

“from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare.  If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.  But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something.  I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Continue reading “From the Archives: Rape is Not a Political Platform – Rape is a Violent Crime! By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

Abortion Rights (?) by Esther Nelson

Slowly, yet systematically, women, men, and everybody else along the gender continuum, are losing access to a timely, legal, and safe abortion. This is not breaking news. Pushback in the United States against abortion “rights” has been happening in various state legislatures for decades.  These days we find ourselves more and more constricted as laws across the country reflect a tightening of accessibility to what some people refer to as a “scourge” in the land.

My first-ever blog post on FAR (March 2014) wrestled with the subject of abortion.  In that essay (one that’s still relevant), I suggest we broaden our thinking about a subject that has polarized Americans. Is abortion (a) right?  Is it wrong? The two sides have become entrenched.


Continue reading “Abortion Rights (?) by Esther Nelson”


Moderator’s Note: We here at FAR have been so fortunate to work along side Carol Christ for many years. She died in July this year from cancer. To honor her legacy as well as allow as many people as possible to read her thought-provoking and important blogs we are pleased to offer this new column to highlight her work. We will be picking out special blogs for reposting. This blog was originally posted September 3, 2012. It is surprisingly current.You can read it along with its original comments here

Where patriarchalism trumps love, when push comes, shove often follows. The underside of love patriarchalism is hatred of the independence of women. 

We are told that it is the duty of a loving father and husband to protect his wife and children.  In exchange, good wives support their husbands and good children obey their fathers.  The bottom line of patriarchy is control.  The fight over abortion is a fight about men’s right to control women.

I have spent much of the past few weeks wondering why so many Republican men hate women.  Why do they want to deny the right to an abortion to a 12 year-old girl raped by her father, to a 21 year-old college student gang raped at a fraternity party, to a 33 year-old woman who submitted to a violent boyfriend she did not know had poked a hole in his condom, or a to a 41 year-old woman who offered a cup of coffee to the man who came to her house to fix the electricity, but who said “no” when he assaulted her.

Continue reading “Carol P. Christ’s Legacy: “LOVE PATRIARCHALISM”—ITS UNDERSIDE IS HATE”

Pro-Choice and Christian: Reconciling Faith, Politics, and Justice BOOK REVIEW by Katie M. Deaver

In 2015 Kira Schlesinger wrote piece for Ministry Matters about how her own pro-choice stance on abortion had become more complicated the more she explored the issue of abortion. The article was widely read and shared, as well as hotly debated by many. You can read this article and the many comments here. Out of the response to this article grew Schlesinger’s Pro-Choice and Christian: Reconciling Faith, Politics, and Justice.

The book does a great job of walking the fine line of being both academically engaging and an easy enough read to engage a book or Bible study group as well. Schlesinger uses the first couple of chapters to dig into the history of abortion, listing recorded examples of the process as early as 1300 BCE. From there she briefly walks the reader through the roughly 100 years (Comstock Act in 1873 until Roe v. Wade in 1973) during which abortion was illegal in the United States. Finally, she wraps up this beginning historical section with details about the generations after Roe v. Wade up to our current reality.

Continue reading “Pro-Choice and Christian: Reconciling Faith, Politics, and Justice BOOK REVIEW by Katie M. Deaver”

“What Could be Sadder?” I’ll tell you…by Esther Nelson

You’ve probably seen the following meme circulating on social media:

This meme is designed to be evocative.  Specifically, it plays into the concept of the sanctity of motherhood that so often oozes into a popular sentimentality about children.  In Christian-majority countries, we read and hear the story of the Virgin Mary acquiescing humbly and readily to her pregnancy when the angel of the Lord tells her she is with child, something done to her by the Holy Spirit.  “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.  And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38).  Mary is often elevated in Christian circles as a role model for women.

Putting aside the question (for now) that asks when life begins, let’s consider this “sad sight” the meme talks about—“women marching for the right to kill their own children.”  Abortion aside (for now), there are many examples—both in literature and history—of women having killed their children.  I offer the following two:

The novelist Toni Morrison (b. 1931) won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1988) for her book, BELOVED.  Morrison tells Sethe’s story, a mother who knows firsthand the horrors of slavery, who kills her child rather than seeing her enslavedContinue reading ““What Could be Sadder?” I’ll tell you…by Esther Nelson”

Approach the Taking of Life with Great Restraint by Carol P. Christ

Nurture life.

Walk in love and beauty.

Trust the knowledge that comes through the body.

Speak the truth about conflict, pain, and suffering.

Take only what you need.

Think about the consequences of your actions for seven generations.

Approach the taking of life with great restraint.

Practice great generosity.

Repair the web

In Rebirth of the Goddess, I offered Nine Touchstones of Goddess Spirituality as an alternative to the Ten Commandments. The Nine Touchstones are intended to inform all our relationships, whether personal, communal, social, or political.

The seventh touchstone asks us to approach the taking of life with great restraint.

Continue reading “Approach the Taking of Life with Great Restraint by Carol P. Christ”

It’s All About Control by Vibha Shetiya

VibhaWhen I first moved to America, I was shocked to learn of the high rate of domestic violence here. Surely, American men weren’t like that. Besides, American women were strong – they would never take BS from their husbands, fathers or brothers. How could this be even remotely possible? Of course, I was younger then, and not quite aware of the insidious workings of patriarchy. But then America is supposedly one of the most liberal and progressive countries in the world. Being of Indian heritage, it was “natural” that I had heard of and witnessed male domination and control. After all, we Indians were “backward.” But America? Really?

I have, for a while now, been utterly confused by the inherent paradoxes within both countries, but it was Justice Kennedy’s retirement and the possibility of the overturning of Roe v. Wade that helped clarify my thoughts. Continue reading “It’s All About Control by Vibha Shetiya”

Why Is the Democratic Party Slapping Women in the Face? by Carol P. Christ

While the Republicans in Congress and in state legislatures across the country are working to repeal and restrict a woman’s right to control her own body, the Democratic Party has decided not to “insist” that the right to abortion is a basic human right.

During the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton was criticized for choosing a Tim Kaine as her vice presidential running mate even though as governor of Virginia, he had supported several anti-abortion bills. Last winter Bernie Sanders and his coalition were criticized for backing Heath Mello, a Democrat running for mayor of Omaha, Nebraska, who co-sponsored the first statewide bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks and who voted for a bill to outlaw the “telemedicine” (speaking to a doctor via the internet) to monitor medication abortion when no local doctor will supervise it. Last week the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Ben Ray Luján, said the party would support anti-choice candidates. Senate Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi agreed with him that abortion should not be a litmus test.

And why not? Why should the Democratic Party have a “big tent” that includes those who deny a woman’s right to choose abortion?  Continue reading “Why Is the Democratic Party Slapping Women in the Face? by Carol P. Christ”

The Intersections of Faith and Reproductive Justice by Katey Zeh

The Intersections of Faith & Reproductive Justice

Last week I participated in a panel discussion hosted by the Center for American Progress (CAP) on the intersections of faith and reproductive justice. These conversations are critically important, particularly in these political times when threats to our bodily autonomy and right of conscience are sanctioned by our current administration, Congress, and many state legislatures.

The framing of these public discussions is always interesting and somewhat troubling to me. Often progressive spaces like these do recognize that many people of faith support reproductive health care, but with that understanding is the assumption that supporting the full spectrum of reproductive healthcare, including access to safe abortion care, necessitates some kind of moral reckoning for religious people.

Continue reading “The Intersections of Faith and Reproductive Justice by Katey Zeh”

Anti-Muslim Demonstrations Demand Our Response by Katey Zeh


On June 10th anti-Muslim demonstrations were held in 28 cities across the United States, including one a few miles down the road from me at the North Carolina Capitol grounds in Raleigh. Organized by ACT for America, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the largest Anti-Muslim hate group in the country, these “anti-Sharia” gatherings were advertised with propagandist messaging like “If you stand for human rights, please join us to march against Sharia” and “Sharia is incompatible with our Constitution and our American values.”

It’s no coincidence that these anti-Muslim demonstrations were organized during LGBTQ Pride month, specifically the weekend before the one year mark of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left forty-nine people dead and fifty-three others wounded, nearly all of whom were young members of the Latinx community. The shooter Omar Mateen had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before opening fire at the gay club. Scott Pressler, one of the major organizers of the anti-Muslim gatherings, claims that the Orlando massacre was a wake-up call that led him to do two things: to come out as a gay man, and to join ACT for America “to fight for my community, my country.”

ACT for America operates under the guise of human rights and women’s liberation to justify its anti-Muslim, white Supremacist agenda. The organization’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, cited acts of violence against women including female genital mutilation and honor killings as the basis of organizing these anti-sharia demonstrations. She criticized U.S. feminists, claiming (falsely) that they have we have been silent on these issues. In an interview Scott Pressler also tried to appeal to feminists in joining his anti-Muslim crusade when he said, “ We [the LGBTQ community] are under attack simply because of our sexuality. Just like women, just for being born a female you are already under attack, and I think that’s demonstrative of how extreme radical Islam really is.”

Continue reading “Anti-Muslim Demonstrations Demand Our Response by Katey Zeh”

Encountering Spirit: A Ritual of Blessing for an Abortion Clinic by Katey Zeh

Photo Credit: Helen Parshall

For the last year I have had the honor of serving as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). This leadership role often requires great personal and professional sacrifices and yet blesses me tenfold in return. At this moment in history I can think of no more important organization to offer my time and gifts than on behalf of RCRC.

Last week RCRC partnered with Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington (PPMW) to hold an Interfaith Unity Ceremony to honor their brand new health center in southeast D.C. I had the privilege of joining more than sixty clergy, justice leaders, and clinic staff as were led by the Reverend Doctors Dennis and Christine Wiley, co-pastors of the Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ, through an interfaith service of blessing. There was drumming from the all female percussion band Balatá, testimonies from providers and patients, poetry, liturgical dance, a Hindu chant, and a ritual of healing from the shame and stigma surrounding abortion.

Photo Credit: Helen Parshall

At one point during the service a colleague of mine turned to me and whispered, “I’ve got goose bumps. Something is happening here, isn’t it?” I said, “Yes, Spirit is here.”

Many might find an encounter with the sacred at a Planned Parenthood surprising to say the least. It might have been for me had I not experienced something quite similar ten years ago. At the time I was a seminary student at Yale, and I had recently participated in RCRC’s pastoral care training on how to walk alongside women making decisions about their unplanned pregnancies. Before I offered any kind of counseling I wanted to see for myself what went on in abortion clinic. After taking a tour of the local Planned Parenthood health center I was so moved by the love and kindness of the doctors and support staff that I decided to volunteer on days when abortions were provided. Through that experience I felt the holy nudge to dedicate my ministry to supporting the work of abortion providers like Planned Parenthood and standing up for the rights and dignity of those who need access to safe, legal abortion care.

Now, almost a decade later, I found myself back in a health center. That time of being amongst my people, surrounded by words and sounds of truth affirming the sacred decisions of women about their bodies and lives, felt like I had tasted my first bite of food after a long, difficult fast. I didn’t realize how much over these last few months I had been starving for hope, love, and life-giving energy until that ritual of blessing held within the walls of the Planned Parenthood health center.

Photo Credit: Helen Parshall

Later that night on my drive back to the airport I found myself repeating the same simple prayer, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the way that ritual had restored my spirit and affirmed my call to ministry. For the first time I felt prepared to take on the heavy burden of the next four years. I am ready. Are you?

Katey Zeh, M.Div is a thought leader, strategist, and connector who inspires intentionalKatey Headshot communities to create a more just, compassionate world through building connection, sacred truth telling, and striving for the common good.  She has written for outlets including Huffington Post, Sojourners, Religion Dispatches, Response magazine, the Good Mother Project, the Journal for Feminist Studies in Religion, and the United Methodist News Service. Her book Women Rising will be published by the FAR Press in 2017.  Find her on Twitter at @kateyzeh or on her website kateyzeh.com




What Will the Faith Response to Zika Be? by Katey Zeh


In the face of the Zika epidemic the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new recommendations for individuals at risk of contracting the virus either through mosquito bites or through sexual contact with an infected person. If someone has traveled to an area where Zika is present, the WHO recommends abstinence or consistent condom use for at least eight weeks or up to six months if a partner shows symptoms. (Only 20% of people infected with the virus are symptomatic.) But for women of childbearing age living in areas affected by the virus, the WHO urges them to speak with their health providers about possibly delaying pregnancy, presumably indefinitely. The Zika virus has been linked to devastating birth defects including microcephaly.

After issuing the revised guidelines Nyka Alexander, spokesperson for the WHO, clarified that the purpose of them was not to discourage all at-risk couples from conceiving, but rather to ensure that they consider the Zika virus and its potential impacts on the timing of pregnancy. “Whether and when to become pregnant should be a personal choice made on the basis of information and access to affordable, quality health services,” said Alexander.

For pregnancy to be a personal choice, women and men must have access to the tools, information, and resources they need to prevent, delay, or plan it. Worldwide more than 220 million women want to avoid pregnancy but have an unmet need for reliable, safe contraceptive methods. The Zika virus has brought significant attention to what has been a public health crisis and an ethical tragedy for decades: that despite modern medical advances 85 million women experience unintended pregnancies each year. Continue reading “What Will the Faith Response to Zika Be? by Katey Zeh”

Mixing Work and Faith: Redefining my Relationship with the United Methodist Church by Katey Zeh


The United Methodist Church (UMC) General Conference, the denomination’s legislative body that meets every four years, is currently underway in Portland, Oregon. For self-avowed “MethoNerds” this is a highly anticipated event akin to watching the Olympics. Meanwhile I’m doing my best to keep my distance from the happenings there.

For six years I worked in the public policy and advocacy office of the UMC, the church into which I had been baptized as a teenager. My position was one coveted by many and for good reason. I got to write, speak, and travel the country, connecting with congregations and training people of faith in advocacy for women and girls. But I was also required to witness the political infighting of General Conference in 2012, which left me in tears and with little hope for a more just, compassionate church.

After that experience my work in the church began to lose its luster. The daily grind of halfheartedly upholding an institution that didn’t align with my theological values, especially around LGBTQ inclusion and abortion care, took its toll. And my life circumstances changed dramatically: I moved from DC to North Carolina, got married, and had my daughter (without any paid time off, which is another matter needing attention.) As a breastfeeding mom of a newborn, many of the aspects of the work that once appealed to me—constant travel, trainings, speaking engagements—were now logistical nightmares. I decided it was time to move on. Continue reading “Mixing Work and Faith: Redefining my Relationship with the United Methodist Church by Katey Zeh”

A Choir for Reproductive Freedom by Katey Zeh


I was home watching the live stream of those gathered in front of the Supreme Court building to show their opposition to this law that has prevented so many women from accessing the abortion services they need. The speakers, many of them leaders in reproductive justice organizations, powerfully called out the many ways that this unjust law has targeted women of color, immigrant women, and poor women.

During one of the speeches, those gathered in support of this law began singing “Spirit of the Living God.” It was audible over even the most powerful voices speaking out against it. I began to get irritated. But as the song continued, I got angry–and then I got inspired. Continue reading “A Choir for Reproductive Freedom by Katey Zeh”

The Right to Choose is the Right to Our Lives by Marie Cartier

MarieCartierforKCETa-thumb-300x448-72405Friday, January 22nd marks the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 which provided all women nationwide, for the first time, the right to get a legal abortion for any reason–the right to choose. There are celebrations, and actions for visibility planned throughout the nation. Some of them are listed on the Planned Parenthood website.

On this anniversary,  the stakes for women’s access to legal abortion are higher than ever. Politicians threaten to further restrict access and the U.S. Supreme Court soon will  hear the biggest abortion case in decades. What was life was like for women before legal abortion–and what could it again become? Politicians threaten to continue to take women’s health backwards. Continue reading “The Right to Choose is the Right to Our Lives by Marie Cartier”

It is a Matter of Focus by Deanne Quarrie

deanne_2011_B_smMany of the young women I meet tell me that they think feminism is not what they are about, that they prefer to work for the good of all. I understand that and certainly we can all choose where we wish to place our focus. However, it does make me wonder how effective we can be with our focus placed on so broad a scope. Certainly, we want equal rights for all and some call that “feminism” these days but is it?

In my 73 years, I have lived through quite a few years of women working for equal rights. I have seen many successes as well as the failures. I am incredibly proud of those successes. When I was in the early stages of my career and had just entered management, I was able to implement leadership methods, which now have become models for employers such as team building and servant leadership. Then however, there were no names for them. I led my teams based simply on how I wished my employers to treat me. Continue reading “It is a Matter of Focus by Deanne Quarrie”

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