With high-ranking Democratic officials listening reverently in the Iowa state capitol, a liberal activist and union official on Wednesday led a prayer for increased funding for abortions, for greater access to abortions, for doctors who perform abortions, and for what she called “the blessing of choice.”
Midge Slater, an organizer for the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans, part of the Iowa Federation of Labor and the AFL-CIO, spoke to about 80 people who came to the capitol to protest a proposal that the State Board of Medicine end a program that allows doctors to prescribe an abortion pill for a woman after a video chat, rather than an in-person consultation.
Two days later, on Friday, the Board voted to end the practice known as “tele-med” abortions.
In her invocation at the rally, which was attended by Jack Hatch and Tyler Olson, two Democratic candidates for governor of Iowa, Slater prayed that elected officials “may always support a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions.” She prayed for “increased financial support for low income women” to have abortions. She prayed that “women in developing nations” have greater access to abortion. She prayed to “give thanks and celebrate that abortion is still safe and legal.” And she prayed that families may know “the blessing of choice.”
Slater also prayed for “women have been made afraid of their own power by their paternalistic religion.” And she asked God that women be able to “throw away their secrets and claim their herstories.”
Prayers at political events of all stripes often have a political tinge. But Slater’s prayer, first reported by the blog The Iowa Republican, stands on the far edge of such entreaties, making specific policy requests about an issue that is filled with anguish for millions of Americans.
There is a video of Slater’s prayer, taken by the liberal activist group Progress Iowa. Here is a transcript of what she said:
Thanks, Matt. Eyes open, eyes closed. Heads up, heads bowed — whatever your choice. Let us pull together now with some spiritual thought.
We are here today representing many religious faiths, many beliefs, many ideas about life, to share a common concern, O Lord.
You who knows no gender, no race, no class, are the Creator of all that is good. You danced at the first light out of darkness, and continue yet today to teach us the steps: justice, mercy, and humility. You are truly the Lord of the Dance.
We pray today because we see that all is not good. There are some who would shun justice, despise mercy, and lay aside humility for the sake of political influence, and in doing so perpetuate an ongoing blockade of women’s right to safe reproductive health care
We want to share our concern with you and to ask your guidance to keep and protect the goodness that we are capable of. Lord, we gather today to address that violation of justice and to offer prayers for those who have been caught in this political posturing.
We pray for women for whom pregnancy is not good news, that they know they have choices.
We pray for compassionate religious voices to speak out for the dignity and autonomy of women.
We pray for our daughters and granddaughters, that they will always know the power of making their own good decisions.
We give thanks, O Lord, for the doctors, both current and future, who provide quality abortion care, and pray that they may be kept safe.
We pray for the 45 million American women who have had safe, legal abortions. May they stand tall and refuse shame.
We pray for elected officials, that they may always support a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions.
Today, we pray for better access to all forms of birth control. We pray that women know the power of our own stories. May we find our voices and tell our truths.
We pray for the men in our lives, that they may offer their loving kindness and support for women’s difficult decisions.
We pray for increased financial support for low-income women to access contraception, abortion, and child care.
We pray for all pregnant women. May they be surrounded by loving voices.
Today, we pray for women in developing nations, that they may know the power of self-determination. May they have access to employment, education, birth control, and abortion.
We give thanks for the strong women in our lives who have given us examples of good decision making.
We pray for an end to hateful language that diminishes the dignity of women.
We pray for women who have been made afraid of their own power by their paternalistic religion. May they learn to reject fear and live bravely.
We give thanks for the intelligence, talent, wit, and wisdom of all the women and girls in our lives.
Today, we pray that all women will know that they are created in the image of God — good and holy, moral and wise.
We pray for women to throw away their secrets and claim their herstories, with power and with truth.
We pray for the end of all discrimination against women.
We pray for an end to the stigma perpetrated against women who have abortions.
Today, we pray for girls everywhere, that they may have every opportunity for education, sport, health, art, and vocation.
Today, we pray for the families we’ve chosen. May they know the blessing of choice.
Today, we pray for women to claim their equality and demand their rights as citizens. As Sojourner Truth, a slave, a mother, a preacher, and an activist, with pride and determination proclaimed over 110 years ago, “Ain’t I a woman?” She knew the answer.
Today, we pray for a continuous love to overflow from our spirits, and we give thanks and celebrate that abortion is still safe and legal.
And finally, O Lord, we pray that we practice what we preach, that we never forget the passion and commitment we feel today, inspired by our understanding of Your message: “Dance, dance, wherever you may be, for I am the Lord of the Dance, said she. And I lead you all, wherever you may be, and I lead you all in the dance, said she.”
Let us continue that dance for justice.