June 30, 2017

Dear Bishop Curry,

I am an Episcopalian—member of St. David’s Austin and board member of the Episcopal Church Foundation and The Front Porch. I’ve been active in the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes.  My husband Ed and I have both served St. David’s vestry (Ed recently having been Senior Warden for two terms, helping the parish transition into David Boyd’s retirement).  We both got to hear you when you visited the Episcopal Church Foundation Board meeting last fall, and I had heard you previously at CEEP.  We are deeply grateful for your presence and leadership.  I have become politically engaged and have shared your letter to Speaker Joe Straus with the group of 250 people who sometimes write messages with me to elected officials; like you, we adamantly oppose “the bathroom bill.” The radical right is doing such damage to our nation, and in Texas, if possible, things are even worse.  Andy Doyle has received emails from me and heard me speak when he was at St. David’s early this month, and he eloquently addressed our congregation about matters at hand.  Nonetheless, I keep hoping for more from my church. Here’s a message I posted yesterday on my Facebook Feed and Friends for Civil Action blog at http://mollysharpe.blog.  In the context of the church, I think there’s a need to minister to those of us who are pro-choice.     Best, Molly

Action Step for voters: Let your U.S. Senators know that you, as a voter, believe health will be improved and costs significantly reduced by putting Planned Parenthood front and center in our nation’s health plan. Read below if you wonder why I say this. We cannot hope to reduce our nation’s deficit, if our country is sick.  It’s irresponsible to leave people in need without preventive and emergency care. Medicaid pays for half of all births in the U.S.  We need Medicaid. More than that, we need a health care plan that solves problems, rather than abdicating responsibility to provide a tax break for the already rich—a tiny minority of people. Planned Parenthood is foundational to a health care plan that solves problems and reduces health care expense.

June 29, 2017

Re:  Out of the Womb!

Dear Congress and Religious Leaders,

When a woman ends up pregnant, for whatever reason, what if that woman could make a heartfelt assessment of whether she was emotionally ready to carry a child?  What if she could decide whether she had the emotional and financial resources to raise a child?

For those who think there is a God who with each child sends a unique soul never to be sent again, please, please, please, it is time to wake up and acknowledge this is the 21st century.  We were wrong about slavery, racial prejudice, forbidding divorce, treating women as subservient, the nature of family, the nature of gender, and I believe we are wrong about this.  For those of us—and I am one—who are open to the idea that there is a force of creation that cares for us and loves us even in times of huge duress, such a force surely has the capacity to send a soul via a new baby, if the originally designated baby didn’t arrive at the train station.  The Roman Catholic Church asks that there be no contraception—no meddling whatsoever with the possible plan of soul delivery, outside of trying to map your monthly cycle. CAN WE PLEASE STOP THIS ABSURDITY?

I believe that neither Congresspeople nor Religiouspersons have the right to weigh in on a woman’s womb and what happens there, beyond acknowledging that the choice is the woman’s.  The church I was born into and then married into again—the Episcopal Church—has a history of looking at multiple sides of serious matters.  I appreciate this questioning stance. Spending considerable time at church and with Episcopal—affiliated organizations reinforced my moderate viewpoint—my looking-both-ways attitude—until this week’s latest installment in the debate about health care broke my attitude wide open.

There was a day back in the 1980’s when The Junior League of Austin appointed me to the board of Planned Parenthood Austin.  No abortions were performed in their clinics here. I was relieved to be asked to serve an organization valuable to women’s health without having to deal head on with abortion. While I consistently have believed in the right for a woman to choose, if asked, I would have said that I was grateful not to have been faced with the dilemma of abortion.   I now believe that attitude of mine was WRONG.  Deciding for abortion should NOT be a dilemma.

It should be a simple choice for a woman to make, not one weighed down by all the judgments some politicians and some church people have placed on the decision of whether or not to carry a child to term or even whether or not to use birth control.

Providing proper access to abortion and contraception services should be about embracing an amazing solution to one of the huge health care problems facing our country and world—our ability to stop bringing new life into a world when we aren’t prepared to care for the health of that new life.  Let’s be free to exercise that right.

We do this much for our cats and dogs.

My middle-of-the road stance is gone with the wind now.  I fervently believe—where the mothers-to-be believe this also—that mothers-to-be who are emotionally unprepared to carry or care for a child should have the choice to abort. For a mother-to-be who feels differently from me, she needs to make her own choice.  It is not her congressperson’s or her religious leader’s choice, though.  However, I wouldn’t be at all opposed to mandating some education for mothers-to-be about what it means to be a parent, for there are a whole lot of very bad parents out there in our world—the result of being unprepared emotionally and financially for children.


Mary (Molly) H. Sharpe

1805 Exposition Boulevard| Austin, Texas 78703-2833

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