Organizing for Health Equity

Attacks against abortion rights, against gender affirming health care programs, and against the very young and the very old, combined with the impact of systemic racism, pandemics, poverty, and other problems, have raised awareness about the need for health equity and mutual aid. This AIW calls for new partnerships to secure personal and social wellness, with justice for all people, in all nations.

Proposed by: Robert Murphy, partnering with United Fellowship, in Saint Peterburg, Florida, with other community organizations in the American South. The Florida Project. Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community.

WHEREAS recent attacks against abortion rights, against gender affirming health care programs, and against the very young and the very old, combined with the impact of systemic racism, pandemics, poverty, and other problems, bring all nations to a new conversation about health equity and human dignity; and

NOTING that the 2023 Sustainable Development Goals Summit will convene at the United Nations in September to reimagine and reshape global programs for public health and justice;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly calls for immediate action. We want individuals to have more control over their bodies. We agree with the World Health Organization that health equity is achieved when everyone can attain their full potential for health and well-being. We know that racism, agism and ableism, homophobia, misogyny, and other forms of systemic oppression, prevent many people from enjoying wellness.

THEREFORE the General Assembly nurtures partnerships at three levels

o INTERNATIONAL ACTION: Global programs in public health will require global solutions. We support global partnerships for health improvement with a strong Unitarian Universalist presence at the United Nations. We ask congregations to study the Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations programs that promote health equity and justice. We ask Unitarian Universalists to celebrate Human Rights Day in December.

o NATIONAL ACTION: We will work with others to create multigenerational alliances, so that different people, in different communities, can care for each other.

We call for equitable programs for paid family and medical care leave. We support a strong Social Security programs and programs that empower people of all ages and with different abilities. In the United States, we affirm our support for a single-payer system that will provide medical insurance and long-term care insurance for all residents.

There has been a resurgence in labor union organizing during recent months. We support workers as they organize democratic labor unions to secure adequate compensation, worker representation, pensions, and occupational health and safety.

o LOCAL ORGANIZING: As North Americans move into the hot weather season, we want congregations and other community organizations to work together for health equity.

New programs for emergency preparedness, for mental health services, for health and safety education, and to provide access to family planning services, are needed immediately. We ask for mutual aid and solidarity instead of charity.

The 2023 Farm Bill is being prepared. Different Communities are asked to help each other by creating a Farm Bill that works for the distribution of health food in a healthy environment.

As people of faith, we affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all individuals and we join with others to reduce suffering and to overcome injustice. Health care programs should be proactive, and they should help to empower individuals in healthy relationships. We will work with others to create healthy workplaces and communities.

We will be held accountable by future generations.

:page_facing_up: Download as a PDF


I’'m not sure if you’re taking suggestions but here are mine. I’d be more enthusiastic about this AIW if you made the following changes:

In the first line I would suggest changing abortion rights to reproductive rights or including it.

And in the paragraph - THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED I would suggest that transphobia, audism, fatphobia and family and partner violence be added.

in the paragraph on Local organizing I would suggest change it to As residents of Turtle Island (because Canada’s smoke is in NY right now for example) move into the hotter temperatures and experience the effects of climate crisis in smoke seasons of wildfires making some of the worst air quality in the world, we want congregations and other community organizations to work together for health equity like access to cooling stations, improvements to indoor air quality and respiratory health supports. (For example in Cali disabled folks organized and gave out high quality respiratory masks to other disabled and homeless folks who were in serious danger with the wildfire smoke which is the kind of unhealthy for everyone conditions NY is facing right now.)

Not adding any of my parathesis-ed commentary.


I agree with many of the concerns raised in this AIW and agree that the attacks on reproductive rights and or gender affirming care are deserving of an AIW. However, I was disappointed that the actions do not reference these areas of recent state actions limiting access to certain types of care. I would like to see a more focused statement.


Seriously agree. The attacks on trans people rights are literally killing people allowing that is ok not to give folks emergency care if it violates religious beliefs, detransitioning people especially youth, and contributing to major health inequity. A tracker by Erin Reed a transgender journalist has tracked over 530 anti-trans laws proposed just this year!

HRC has a map that’s chilling tracking attacks on gender affirming bans affecting youth which literally causes kids to die. The ACLU maps all the attacks on LGBT rights.

As a queer person it unbelievably difficult to have every election be like what part of my family, what part of myself or my community will be in peril of losing rights, rights to public spaces, health care, emergency care, marriage, etc.

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The reach of this AIW seems over-broad; it feels overwhelming and unreachable. The suggested actions will require investment, a comprehensive commitment, and long-term approach; therefore it seems unrealistic as “immediate” witness.

UU’s have a tendency to create laundry lists (“racism, agism and ableism, homophobia, misogyny, and other forms of systemic oppression”) that ALWAYS leave something out – can’ t we just say we work to dissolve systemic oppression that prevents many people from enjoying wellness?

And since this is supposed to call for Immediate Witness, I would prefer to see it address the immediate issues of the moment: reproductive freedom, gender-affirming care, and equal access. It comes down to health care being a private matter between a patient and a qualified/licensed physician; Congress has no authority to practice medicine and should have no authority to withhold the practice of medicine.


I think lists can go either way 1) be broad or 2) be specific - if someone’s going to name the isms which can be important to see marginalized folks lifted up then I want that list to include more things like I suggested above.

I just hate to see option 2) not include things like transphobia, fatphobia, audism which get left out often in those specific lists and literally people die from how that affects their medical care - and medical inequity so I felt they could be added if the list was going the way of 2) option.

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I believe the immediate witness of this AIW is the UU-wide recognition of the intersectionality of issues impacting health and breaking down the silos between them. Reproductive rights and transgender health care rights, for example, are the identical moral issue of bodily autonomy that impacts all the other issues as well. All of the issues mentioned are connected to each other and those concerned with any of them might best be served by demonstrating concern for all of them. We should be in coalition, not in competition in addressing the essential well being of all people that our capitalist and increasingly plutocratic system ignores. This AIW is a call to unity in a time when powerful forces seek to divide us and pit these related interests against one another to the benefit of the powerful. I could wordsmith this all day, but to me, the basic concept is there…


Bruce gets it right. “Organizing for Health Equity” is an AIW about the intersectionality of issues. The major topics mentioned in the proposal connect to questions about bodily autonomy. Simply stated: “Who controls my body?” Transgender people, womens health care advocates, many immigrants, many drug addicts, and people in prisons and in nursing homes and in other institutions, are asking the same question. Some ask: “Does the health care industry serve my needs?” Some ask: “Can organized religion be helpful?” As Bruce notes, there’s a need to break down silos. New partnerships are needed. The Health Equity AIW will be a good starting place for many Unitarian Universalists. It’s possible to wordsmith all day but this AIW helps to bring different groups together. The Health Equity AIW is action-oriented. This is what an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) looks like. Included are suggested actions for congregations for the next six months and a bit beyond. Different possibilities are presented. It’s important to get active. Vote “yes” for this AIW.


The Health Equity AIW is very down-to-earth. It responds to some immediate concerns. Key point in health care: “The personal is political.” Most of the money in health care comes from Uncle Sam. Including Medicare and Medicaid money, Veterans Administration programs, etc., etc. And government agencies regulate medical practice Government decides if abortions will be legal and the politicians tell you that you can buy some drugs but not other drugs. Obviously, modern health care is a lot more than “a private matter between a patient and a physician.” However, the Health Equity AIW doesn’t limit its attention to government programs. The proposed AIW calls for mutual aid programs and other activities that can be developed in a congregation. Congregations can decide what they want to do for wellness. If they want to lobby government, that’s one possibility. If they want to stay away from political activity, that’s also possible. What’s important is to understand how healing happens. It’s an old tradition in organized religion.

Question, CAN we wordsmith the AIW? I don’t know if amendments are allowed, and if so, how that process works?

Kerry - Thanks for your question. It’s a question for the General Assembly leaders.

My personal opinion is that we need something like the old “study and action” process. Major UUA statements about big topics like immigration, military spending, and health care should be developed over a period of 2-4 years with lots and lots of comments encouraged.

With best wishes,

Robert Murphy


Right now Med Students from Physicians for a National Health Program are in Chicago presenting a resolution to the AMA for the AMA to remove all their statements of opposition to single payer system. It’s time.


Mary Elizabeth - Thank you for the news about the medical students. One of the goals for some Unitarian Universalists is to get the UUA more involved with health equity concerns. Emphasis on healing and on reducing suffering is an old tradition in organized religion. The UUs for a Just Economic Community have been active for several years.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a “wake up” call for many congregations. A major moment in our history. So this is the right moment to look at what Unitarian Universalists are doing to secure health equity. There’s a long list of problems that needs attention. The Health Equity AIW doesn’t identify everything. However, it’s a start for the UUA.

Please ask your congregation to vote “yes” for the Health Equity AIW.

With best wishes,

Robert Murphy

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There are also immediate issues of wildfires, floods, and the public-health impacts of these. Climate change leaves too many subject to intense heat, and without air conditioning that can be deadly. There seems to no longer be a functioning Congregational Study/Action Issue process; this topic might have been suited to that, but on the other hand there are people vulnerable and hurting now; they can’t wait for us to discuss for 3 years.

No, it is a straight up-or-down vote. Totally inappropriate, in my mind, as it is hard to get feedback before GA, but the process is not something over which I have any influence. We took some parts of the social witness process out of the by-laws a few years ago, so as not to “micromanage”, but as I understand it, that took away any authority the delegate body had to afffect the process. It is now run entirely by the Commission on Social Witness, I believe.

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Thanks, well said! and more characters to make 20

The Health Equity AIW has been approved for a final vote during the General Assembly. Please vote “yes” and please join with others in organizing for health and safety during the hot weather months (and beyond.) Sally gets it right. The Health Equity AIW should have been a CSAI proposal and there should have been 3-4 years of discussion, with congregations consulted and lots of opportunities for amendments. Every Unitarian Universalist, without exception, has had some experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, and many can speak from personal experience about the impact of climate change and other public health emergencies. Big problems to note: The CSAI process doesn’t exist in today’s world. As Sally notes, there are people who are hurting today. Much of the UU organizing for health activity will have to happen at the grassroots level. ASAP.


The Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community, UUJEC, is pleased to endorse the Organizing for Health Equity Action of Immediate Witness. This is a radical statement that calls for systemic changes in health care. The UUJEC wants all people, in all nations, to have increased control over their bodies. This AIW has developed from decades of work in the UUJEC and we’re grateful for the grassroots organizing that is now developing in Florida and in other places. We campaign for Medicare for All, for democratic labor unions, and for food justice, and we’re concerned about the impact of climate change, and other health-related concerns. Our goal is to defeat systemic racism, homophobia, ageism and ableism, economic injustice, and the other forms of oppression that cause much of the suffering in today’s world. The UUJEC asks all Unitarian Universalists to join us in this religious work, and we ask the General Assembly to endorse the Organizing for Health Equity statement. It’s a call for moral action for systemic changes.

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Thank you, Sally and UUJEC. It’s Sunday morning (June 25) and some of the organizing for Health Equity has started. Florida’s major Gay Pride events are happening in the Tampa area and health equity activists are involved. State government is hostile and the weather is terrible. Still, local Unitarian Universalists are present to encourage empowerment and wellness. Today is also the day for an urban gardening program at Boyd Hill in Saint Petersburg and some community meals are being prepared. This is what “organizing for health equity” looks like as the program moves into implementation. C’mon down to Florida. The UUJEC’s support is needed and appreciated.

I just set up a community discussion, Follow-up: Organizing for Health Equity, in Whova; let’s connect to plan together when we all get home.