Right to Abortion

CUSJ (Canadian Unitarians For Social Justice) and CUUWA

(Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women’s Association)

STATEMENT on Access to Abortion in Canada and the United States

2022 05 05


CUSJ and CUUWA stand together today with our sisters across the border as they face off with a Supreme Court, selected by a polarized judiciary, that has leaked its intention to overturn Roe Vs Wade and open the door for each State to make its own decisions about women’s rights to health care and to the security of the person.  According to maps produced by CNN, over half the states in the United States have either had laws in the past, have strict regulations on abortion now, or have trigger laws that will come into effect when Roe vs Wade is overturned. 

If the landmark legal decision Roe vs Wade is reversed, this will be a giant step backward for the rights of all women, and in particular for the rights of poor women, racialized women, and women whose gender identity and sexual orientation are not typical.  In the text of the decision, as it has been leaked, there is no reference to exceptions for either rape or incest.  It is the harshest possible interpretation of the law.  

The consequences of this decision will be many lives lost.  We fought for the right to abortion because poor women were dying.  A reliable doctor was hard to find. There were many tragedies using illegal and covert methods. This will be a penalty on the poor who don’t have options.  It will make living with poverty even harsher than it already is.  Women with resources will find solutions to their dilemma.  Abortions 

won’t stop.

No woman sets out in life to have an abortion, or takes the decision lightly.  Some women simply cannot bear any more children and recover to take care of a family. Having too many children depletes health, making the woman (and sometimes the child) vulnerable to chronic and acute diseases.  Too many children in a family becomes poverty for all members.  We learned during the COVID pandemic that conditions of overcrowding put whole families at risk.  Single mothers struggle more to care for any child they have.  Both mother and children have reduced opportunities to thrive in life.

A society that supports life would be a society where every child is a wanted child.  It would be a society that ensures that single mothers have all the supports they need to bring their children up with a home, food security, and dignity.  Children have the right to safety, security and social status. Few women who are raped want to raise a child created in hate and violence.  Many of these children suffer from lifelong stigma for who they are. 

A society that cherished children would ensure that if a mother could not keep her child, there would be adequate protective services to find that child a positive environment to grow up in, within their own culture.  Instead, we continue the cycles of troubled, neglected children living in abusive environments and growing up to graduate into the prison industrial complex or living without homes due to inadequate mental and physical health resources.

The abortion debate centres around who will control the bodies, the roles and social power of women in our society, and how we will build healthy families.  As responsible adults, women have the right to control over their own bodies.  They can be trusted to manage decisions on behalf of themselves and their families.  Healthy families, with equal partners who each take responsibility for themselves, their families, and their communities are the foundation for a healthy society — a worthy ideal.

We are fortunate, in Canada, that our political situation is not the same as in the United States.  Canadian politicians from all parties have made clear they will not be trying to reopen the debate.  Nevertheless, we should not take our situation for granted.  We have our own movement in Canada to pass a new abortion law, and they work every day to reduce access to abortions in Canada.  Although all provinces now permit medical abortions, access remans unequal and costly if travel is involved. Education about safe sex, contraception, and post-abortion counselling are not always available and free.  We can be grateful for new technology such as the abortion pill and must make sure it is available in Canada at an affordable price.

Women in Canada, stand on guard.  We have worked hard to attain full adult status in our society.  We must continue to expect our provincial and federal governments to resist lobby attempts to limit our freedoms and to respect our rights to make decisions for ourselves. 

Sisters in the United States, we stand with you and support your work to pass fairer laws making clear the rights of women to be responsible for themselves and to have security of the person. 

Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice

Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women’s Association

CUUWA 2022 Tea and Business Meeting

The CUUWA Annual Tea and Meeting will take place on Zoom on June 11, at 12 pm Pacific, 1 pm Mountain, 2 pm Central, 3 pm Eastern, 4 pm Atlantic, and 4:30 NL time. (Saskatchewan residents, please convert the time from 3 pm Eastern.)

During the first hour, all are invited to engage in a cross-country conversation. We invite you to bring a special cup or mug filled with the hot beverage of your choice and homemade bread or treats to our Tea. After you enter from the waiting room, we will introduce ourselves.  Then we will take the time to discuss the following questions in breakout sessions:

  1. What is happening in your congregation or UU group doing around feminism? (e.g. IWD service, women’s writing group or small ministry group, partnerships with organizations, etc.) What projects show interesting, creative, feminist thinking?
  2. How can CUUWA support individuals, groups, and congregations in Canada? What feminist action or activity would you like to start or help us with?

You may enjoy reflecting on the questions alone or with friends during the weeks leading up to our meeting.

The business meeting takes place in the second hour. If you are not sure if your CUUWA membership is up to date, please contact Margaret L. to check and renew. For all other questions, contact Jo-Anne.

In order to receive the Zoom link for the meeting, you must click on this link and complete your registration. The link is to a registration form, not the meeting. Once I get the notification, I will approve your registration and you will receive the confirmation and connection information. Please contact me if you do not receive the confirmation email within 24 hours of completing your registration. I will also send periodic reminders, including early in the day of the meeting.

Hope to see many of you at the Tea and meeting!

Jo-Anne, interim chair

Canadian U*U Feminist Book Club

2021-2022 Schedule

We meet every month for the Canadian U*U Feminist Book Club on the second (or alternative) Sunday at 3 Pacific, 6 Eastern, so let’s meet then for an hour on Zoom: 
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 328 662 153
Passcode: CUUWA
I Zoomed into Vancouver in the fall to talk about the waves of feminism, and thought we would use that to structure our discussions. Each month we’ll talk about a different wave and I’ll suggest some writers from that period. Of course you can choose a different book or article from that period, watch a TedTalk or a video on them, etc. I’ll give a quick intro and then we’ll go into breakout rooms to talk about our experiences with a related issue. 
Here’s our schedule: 

November 14, 2021: First wave feminism. Discussion: voting and citizenship


Invisible Influence: Claiming Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women’s History – edited by Jean Pfleiderer, Heather Fraser Fawcett, Kathy Sage

Mary Wollstonecraft, Sojourner Truth, Louisa May Alcott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan Brownell Anthony

Note: Postponed to December 19, 2021, instead. Second wave feminism. Discussion: consciousness-raising, employment equity and reproductive rights, 1960s and 1970s activism

Suggestions: Adrienne Rich, Gloria Steinem, Germaine Greer, Dorothy Livesay,
Margaret Laurence, Sylvia Plath

January 9, 2022: Third wave feminism. Discussion: intersectionality, privilege and disadvantage

February 13, 2022: Fourth wave feminism. Discussion: the internet, technology, global concerns

March 13, 2022: Fifth wave feminism. Discussion: Dismantling patriarchy, racism, colonialism, and capitalism

A Sunday Service in Fredericton used the resources (which will be published in the future) from our discussions to celebrate feminism on March 6, 2022.

All congregations are encouraged to hold an IWD service on a Sunday in March. Four congregations we know of (Ottawa First, Toronto First, Halifax, and Fredericton) held services on March 6 to mark the occasion.

To plan IWD service in the future, please explore the resources and theme packages on our website.

2021 CUUWA IWD Service

The recording of the 2021 CUUWA IWD Service, featuring an original sermon by Reverend Kathy Sage and original artistic creations including Dreaming, Demystifying, Decolonizing, Dreaming, Devoting by Ilara Stefaniuk-Gaudet, songs by Rev. Wendy Luella Perkins, and poems and readings by CUUWA members, can be found here or under videos on our Facebook page. Read more about using or sharing the recording and contributing to our creators on this page.

Sacred Space: 2021 IWD Theme for Worship and Study

For International Women’s Day, 2021, the CU*UWA invites you to take part in our Worship service and to reflect on the theme at home. We have prepared a package of materials on the theme of Sacred Space for worship, study, reflection, and inspiration. Download the package here.

The Canadian Unitarian and/or Universalist Women’s Association (CU*UWA) invites all Unitarian*Universalists and congregations across Canada to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 7 or March 8, 2021. March 8 is International Women’s Day, and the CUUWA will be holding an IWD Service on March 7, 2021, at 5 pm Eastern, 2 pm Pacific time, on Zoom.

Meditative Poetry

CUUWA and Vancouver Unitarians host several gatherings each week for you to drop in and hear a poem by a Canadian (usually) woman poet. Current dates are:

Saturday and Sunday 12 noon Eastern

The zoom link is sponsored by Vancouver Unitarians. A few minutes in advance just follow the shortlink ucv.im/cuuwa

The facilitator for the day reads the selected poem three times with a minute of silence and brief sharing in between each reading. It’s usually a small group of 4 to 5 and so it’s a nice “break” in your day –taking about 15 to 20 minutes and never more than 30. On occasion if it’s a long poem, we read it only twice.

We also have a googlegroup where we often post titles and authors and send an occasional reminder. You are welcome to join even if you just want to see the poems and aren’t planning on joining the zoom gathering.

Contact Mary Bennett at ucvconnect@gmail.com if you want more details.

Updates are often posted at vancouverunitarians.ca – Just search for “poetry” or “CUUWA”.

No obligation to be a poem reader. Many of us who are reading consider it a rare privilege to be able to read aloud a (new) favorite poem to attentive listeners.

Feminist Book Club

Our book club meets Sunday, February 7th this month with a focus on #MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls). We usually meet on the 2nd Sunday at 7pm Eastern, but changed the date because the annual March for MMIWG is on Sunday, February 14th.

Facilitators: Hisako and Mary Bennett from Vancouver.

We will send out a resource list on our googlegroup.

Meeting on zoom.