Religious Voices to Join Chorus Calling to Keep Abortion Legal
WASHINGTON — As hundreds of thousands of abortion rights supporters make plans to head to this city for the March for Women’s Lives, contingents of religious and faith-based organizations are selling their T-shirts and preparing their banners for the Sunday (April 25) event.
The Rev. Carlton Veazey, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, said his network of 40 denominations and religious groups expects to draw in excess of 10,000 to the march.
“We are bringing people from all over the country to witness that religious people are pro-choice,” he said. “There’s a need for religious people to say `Yes, this is where we stand and we stand on our faith on this matter.'”
Veazey said religious leaders supporting abortion rights join others in that movement in hoping the march will be a visible barometer of dissatisfaction with recent decisions hailed by their opponents.
President Bush signed two measures — the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act in the last six months — that abortion rights supporters see as whittling away at a woman’s right to legal abortion.
“We think that women’s rights are being eroded,” Veazey said, voicing their concern about the stability of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized most abortions. “We see a definite threat against Roe vs. Wade.”
More than 70 religious or religiously affiliated groups are among the co-sponsors of the march.
The coalition has planned a range of other activities beyond participation in the main event, which is scheduled to kick off at noon on April 25 and culminate in an afternoon rally.
It will host a “Prayerfully Pro-Choice Interfaith Service” at 9:30 a.m. before the march and is signing up individuals from a variety of faiths to take part in a 24-hour prayer vigil that starts on Saturday.
The Unitarian Universalist Association has taken the two-hour slot before midnight, said the Rev. Meg Riley, director of advocacy and witness programs for the Boston-based faith group. She intends to pray for people to have a broader perspective on the issues related to abortion. “We’re talking about families and women and men and it’s gotten way too politicized,” she said.
Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, thinks religious communities have become more visible since the 1992 abortion rights march that brought hundreds of thousands to the nation’s capital. Her group will be represented at the interfaith service and plans a protest in front of the Vatican Embassy on Saturday.
“The overall plan for the day is to demonstrate that Catholics are a part of the reproductive health movement, are pro-choice and are supportive of pro-choice policy-makers,” she said of Sunday’s events.
Other groups are planning activities in the days and hours before the march.
Jewish youth will ride along on their congregational buses and join others in the Reform Jewish movement on Saturday at the Jefferson Memorial for an evening Havdalah service marking the end of the Sabbath, said Rabbi Eve Rudin, director of the North American Federation of Temple Youth, an affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism.
Representatives of different religious groups noted that they could have marched with secular organizations such as Planned Parenthood or the Feminist Majority, but they wanted to connect their footwork with their faith. “For us, a major aspect of the issue of reproductive choice is religious freedom,” said Nancy Kipnis, vice president of the National Council of Jewish Women. “Every religion speaks to this in a different way and we are deeply, deeply committed to the concept that one religion can’t trump the others. … Religious viewpoints are so personal and they must be respected.”
Riley said many of the Unitarians who intend to come from New England, Wisconsin and Oregon, have the same view. “They really want to be here with their church,” she said. “They’re really feeling it as an issue of faith.”
Anti-abortion proponents — known for their annual March for Life on the Jan. 22 anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision — intend to make their views clear at the march as well.
The Silent No More Awareness Campaign intends to hold up signs such as “I Regret My Abortion” and the Society for Truth and Justice plans on displaying pictures of healthy fetuses and babies.
This article courtesy of Religion News Service.