Clergy show support for abortion rights
The members of Concerned Clergy for Choice had a press conference and luncheon Wednesday in the Legislative Office Building to press their support for New York’s Reproductive Health Act. Led by their director, Rabbi Dennis Ross, Concerned Clergy for Choice stressed that the majority of religious people support a woman’s right to choose abortion — that it was, indeed, a form of religious freedom.
“[Religious freedom] has two sides: freedom of religion and freedom from religion,” said Sara Hutchison, Director of Domestic Programs at Catholics for Choice. “It is not about telling people what they can and cannot believe or practice, but rather respecting an individual’s right to follow his or her own conscience, religious belief, and practice, as well as any moral decision making.”
First introduced by Eliot Spitzer, the Reproductive Health Act would clarify the earlier state abortion law of 1970 by guaranteeing a woman’s access to abortion and contraception, as well as removing abortion from criminal law. 70 percent of Catholics support its passage, Hutchinson said.
“Our lawmakers want to understand our faith perspectives,” said the baptist Reverend Larry Phillips of Schenectady. “That people of faith do favor abortion laws that protect the health, the well-being of women and their loved ones, especially the Reproductive Health Act, which will also protect the religious liberty of New Yorkers.”
Rev. Laurena Marie Wickham Will spoke about her church, the First Presbyterian Church in Ogdensburg, and their support for Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive health over the past few decades.
“I currently serve a congregation in northern New York that was instrumental in bringing Planned Parenthood to the city of Ogdensburg,” Will said. “The church saw a tremendous need for women’s health care in the community and was proactive in working to meet that need. When the health center opened, in the late 1960s, it was housed in the church’s fellowship hall. The Planned Parenthood Women’s Health Clinic eventually outgrew its space in the church and moved to its current home, which is an old office building next to the church, also owned by the church. It is still there to this day.”
Ross said, “Some clergy are using their religious teachings as an excuse to deny health care to others, and we want everyone to know that they do not speak for us.”
The clergy behind him said “Amen” in agreement.
This article was originally published in Capitol Confidential.