Louisville, Kentucky — On the day the Health, Safety, and Benefits Committee is to take up two resolutions on reproductive health (HSB-03 and HSB-11), members received news from committee Moderator David Ammons that the United States Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade, the ruling protecting abortion rights nationwide, by a vote of 6-3.
Ammons addressed the committee following a morning break, saying, “I’ve received some sad, some shocking news. The Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade by a vote of 6 to 3 and they have also overturned Casey, the previous decision.”
He invited Michelle Bartel (TEC-Wabash Valley) to offer a prayer of lament on behalf of the committee. Asking others to join her, she prayed:
“Almighty and all-merciful God, we come before you as your humble servants doing this work that is sometimes stressful, sometimes invigorating. And here we are taking a pause because something in our country has happened that’s so directly relevant to our work. But as we take a deep breath, we realized a much more important thing is that it is directly relevant to the women of this country in all their different contexts, all their different living circumstances.
And Lord, so many of us anticipate incredible suffering. We anticipate that people are going to become even poorer. We anticipate that this will certainly hurt Black people, Indigenous people, people of color more than it will those of us who are White. Lord each one of these people is somebody that you hold deep inside your heart and we marvel that you do love each one of us and that each one of us has created in your image.
So what we want to offer you first, O Lord, is our laments — our sorrow, the loss and the grief that comes with such a change in our country’s way of doing things. For all the states right now that are being automatically kicked into prohibiting abortion in their states, for all the women suffering from medical conditions, from life situations.
Lord, the fact that rape can go unchecked to some degree and the women who suffer from it are controlled. But I could go on and on and on and lament this over and over and over again.
We’ve lost as a country. Where we are as a denomination, as we figure out how to serve. But, Lord, what we really want to do right now is walk forward into hope. That’s the only place it’s going to be.
And so we pray that you will be with us here as we make decisions, as we think about things with one another, as we do it prayerfully, as we do it rooted in the two greatest commandments to love you all-merciful and almighty and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Teach us, O Lord, as we leave this place to be agents of formation — doing the things necessary in our areas to continue to love, to find new ways to serve women, to find new ways to serve families who are all wrapped up into this.
Help us learn the actual things we can actually do for actual people to manifest your love and to exhibit your realm of love and goodness and peace and joy and justice in the world as we are called to do.
We pray all of this in the name of Jesus Christ with thanks to the Holy Spirit for pouring love into our hearts that endurance may lead to character and that our character would continue to blossom forward and actions towards the hope that is in you alone.
In Christ, we pray. Amen.”
“We’ve been officially pro-choice [as a denomination] longer than I’ve been a Presbyterian,” added Ammons, as a point of moderator privilege. “We’ve stood beside women and pregnant people who face choices like this. We lift up the will of this committee, and I might say the General Assembly, by all affected and all who will be receiving this news that a branch of our government is doing this.”
The next time she spoke, Bartel apologized for the terminology in her prayer which only named women and not all those who are pregnant.
The Health, Safety, and Benefits committee is meeting June 23-25 during the hybrid General Assembly. Stay tuned here for updates on this and other committees’ actions.