PWR | ISSUING | Statement by the Women's Task Force of the Parliament of the World's Religions on Dobbs Decision Overturning Roe v. Wade

[Edited extract from public address]

The Women’s Task Force of the Parliament of the World’s Religions condemns the majority ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning the constitutional freedom guaranteed to women under Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The Women’s Task Force recognizes the global impact of this decision and stands resolutely with women and girls in this intolerable loss of freedom. We affirm that the dignity and human rights of women and girls begin with their bodily autonomy and their right to reproductive control and healthcare.

The Declaration for the Dignity and Human Rights of Women, unanimously adopted by the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2015, states that: “Institutions in which women are given little or no voice impose constraints on women’s basic freedoms to control their own bodies...”

This opinion is shared by the dissenting minority opinion drafted by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan: “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….With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent.” (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Decision, 2022).

The effect of Dobbs is the imposition by the government of the beliefs of some religious groups on all those who do not share these beliefs, including members of other faiths. We agree with the Parliament’s 3 July 2022 statement on Dobbs that: “Among the world’s religions and also within individual traditions there are a wide range of views on when personhood begins and no general consensus exists.” Nor is there agreement within the scientific community as to when life begins.

The Parliament’s signature document The Declaration Towards a Global Ethic(1993) supports religious freedom, stating that: “guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion are necessary” and opposes the domination of one religion over another, while strongly holding that the world’s religions share “a common set of core values” including “the equal dignity and human rights of men and women.”

Dobbs directly affects women who are no longer free to live in accord with their own traditional religious teachings and long-held moral values, including a fundamental, sacred principle held by religious and spiritual traditions that honor women’s sanctity and sovereignty over their own bodies.

As the Parliament’s Declaration for the Dignity and Human Rights of Women states: “…women continue to suffer disproportionately from …their systematic exclusion from decision-making within religious and other institutions that determine the quality of their lives… shameful violations of women’s dignity and human rights are based on the false premise that men and boys are superior to women and girls, an outdated view perpetuated by too many religious leaders and adherents who choose to misinterpret or use carefully selected scriptures, texts, and teachings to proclaim the inferiority of women and girls. These harmful and religiously justified beliefs permeate societies and contribute to the pervasive deprivations and abuse suffered by women and girls throughout the world.”

As the Elders, esteemed Nobel Laureates, have advised: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

Under Dobbs, women, girls and people who can become pregnant, their bodies, and their reproductive choices will now be legislated by state laws reflecting patriarchal religious constituencies, regardless of women’s moral or religious beliefs. The cruel, dehumanizing and deadly impact of Dobbs on women’s health and well-being is already being experienced - by a 10 year old victim of rape and the doctor who provided her medical care, by women who are miscarrying, experiencing atopic pregnancies and other health issues, and by physicians.

We must mobilize to protect women and healthcare institutions in our communities. We must stand with religious communities affected by these restrictions. We must defend freedom and human rights for women and for all, in America and across the globe.

We call upon all religious leaders and adherents to embrace their moral responsibility and collectively commit to ensuring that women are fully and equally involved in decision-making within religions and in every sphere that involves their lives.

We call upon the world’s religions to honor and uphold the dignity, well-being, and human rights of women and girls.
Official Statement of the Women’s Task Force, Parliament of the World’s Religions
  • Rev. H.Ps. Phyllis Curott, J.D. Chair, Women’s Task Force, Program Chair PoWR, Creator 2015 Inaugural Women’s Assembly, Founder and Elder, Temple of Ara, Attorney, Inductee Martin Luther King Jr. Collegium of Clergy and Scholars
  • Kehkashan Basu M.S.M. United Nations Human Rights Champion, Founder and President of Green Hope Foundation, Youngest Trustee on the Board of the Parliament of the World's Religions
  • Dolly Dastoor Ph.D. Past Co-Chair, Women's Task Force, Past Vice-chair of the Board and Trustee of PoWR, Past President of the Federation of Zoroastrian Association of North America
  • Pat Fero M.S.W. Psychotherapist, Author and Co-Founder of the Green Tent Circle Movement
  • Sande Hart Mother, Grandmother, Sister, President of S.A.R.A.H. (The Spiritual And Religious Alliance For Hope)
  • Ann Smith Former Director Women in Mission and Ministry of National Episcopal Church, Co-founder Anglican Women’s Network, Co- Chair Justice for Women Working Group of National Council of Churches,  Executive Director of Global Education Associates

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