Reverend Dawn Bennett (MDiv ’18) Opinion Piece on the overturning of Roe v. Wade


I remember the morning vividly, it was Friday, June 24th. I received a very disturbing text message from a 28-year-old trans man. He was petrified at the overturning of Roe v. Wade and was desperately scrambling to find some modicum of security or safety.

We talked about so many things that morning: the privilege of passing, going along to get along, living stealth, and raising a ruckus. We talked about voting. These conversations happen more often than I care to admit. I serve as an out LGBTQ+ pastor in the largest affirming Protestant denomination in the country. I’ve also had my children and experienced a medically necessary hysterectomy. One might be tempted to think overturning Roe v. Wade has little impact on me.

Jesus continually exposed corruption in the highest courts. He told us don’t be fooled, don’t be misled by the power mongers and abusers of this world. Rather, set your sights on what is good, pure, and holy. Keep your eye toward the poor, marginalized, and oppressed. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is a social justice Church. Thus, the ELCA’s Social Statements are teaching and policy documents that provide touchpoints to help us in our dialogue on social issues in the context of faith and life. [1]

In 1991 the Abortion statement was adopted; grounded in the conviction that “Christians are united in Christ through faith with both the freedom and the obligation to engage in serious moral deliberation.” [2] An important aspect of our response to God’s love is our faithful and responsible participation in society. Our theology teaches us that God favors life and calls us to preserve and protect it for all people, especially those who are most vulnerable. Response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade causes ripple effects beyond the ultrasound. The Supreme Court does not acknowledge that not everyone with a uterus is female. Lacking also was their assessment of the economics involved in raising a child. In 2015 the USDA reported the average cost of raising a child was $233,610. [3] With average inflation at 2.2%, in 2022 the cost jumps to $272,049. As the Feds slash funding for food, housing, transportation, and education, no relief was cited with the overturning of Roe.

The ELCA’s social statement teaches that the practice of abortion should be legal; that placing decisions about the regulation of women’s health should remain with those whose bodies are directly impacted, lest it endangers the lives of all those with unexpected pregnancies. Abortion can be seen as a violent act, to be sure. Overturning a 50-year law is also violent. I digress. Violence over and against issues of well-being cannot and should not jeopardize girls, women, and transmen.

As a minister I took an oath: to bear the burdens of the people and hold confidence; to preserve the truth, giving no occasion for false security or illusory hope; to give and receive comfort as I serve within the Church. “Comfort, O comfort my people, says [our] God” (Isaiah 40:1)—I’m finding it very difficult to do that these days. The government that is supposed to protect us has turned on us.

On Friday night I took all the pride flags to the sanctuary to be used as prayer shawls. I consoled a gay man whose 92-year-old mother was crying for him to come visit her in the nursing home. She had danced with liberation 50 years before when she received the rights to her own body. Now in the midst of losing her bodily functions she has also lost the rights to her womanhood. I held the hand of an operating room nurse who spent all day fighting back tears of righteous anger along with other nurses and doctors. She moaned, this is so bad, Pastor Dawn, do you know what this means? It means we’re going to see a whole lot more terrible things in the operating roombecause people are not going to stop getting abortions.

It took me a while to figure out how to end this article. Where is the hope? Where is the Good News that the Great Commission speaks of? The good news of Christ will always keep its eye on those most in need. We can too. We’ll be instruments of peace when we don’t see any around. We can listen to one another with intention and empathy. We can believe rape victims. We can vote people into office who support public services for the economically disparate. We can show up, we can stand up, we can speak up. We can advocate for affordable health care, equal access to childcare and education—including sex education so our young people have more options than abstinence, which is unrealistic.

We can continue to be a community of discernment where we honor diverse perspectives and share in one another’s stories. As for me, you’ll continue to find me at the bedside, in the pulpit, and in the middle of the town square because God calls us to treat others the way we would like to be treated. On behalf of all people with a uterus, I want our choice back. Please vote.


[2] Ibid.