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Faith Voices Lead Briefing on Religious Support for Abortion Services

June 30, 2011

Coalition supports access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare services

WASHINGTON – Catholics for Choice, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, in coalition with more than a dozen faith-based organizations, will participate in a briefing today on Capitol Hill to highlight religious support for access to a comprehensive range of reproductive healthcare services. At issue are two bills that would seriously restrict women’s rights to access safe and affordable abortion services in the US. The two bills, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (S. 906/H.R. 3) and the “Protect Life Act” (S. 877/H.R. 358), which have been introduced in the House and Senate by antichoice members of Congress, would directly infringe upon a woman’s ability to make conscience-based decisions about the healthcare services she wishes to access.

The presentations at the briefing will show that religious voices across many different faith traditions support access to a comprehensive range of reproductive health services. In addition, attendees will hear how among people of faith, large majorities do not want Congress interfering in the private decisions individuals make about reproductive healthcare services.

Sara Hutchinson, Director for Domestic Programs at Catholics for Choice, will emphasize the fact that Catholics support healthcare that is both accessible and comprehensive. “Despite the best efforts of the US bishops to claim otherwise, large majorities of Catholic voters support access to and coverage for abortions in private- or government-run health systems. The Catholic social justice tradition encourages us to advocate for the poor, and our intellectual tradition requires our respect for conscience-based decisions people make about their lives, including decisions about reproductive health.”

Deborah Swerdlow, Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, will show how “the restrictions on federal funding and insurance coverage of abortion services, the continuation of the ban on servicewomen using their own, private funds for abortion services, and so-called ‘conscience clauses’ that prioritize the healthcare provider over the woman’s health and well-being are an affront to a woman’s fundamental dignity. The Reform Jewish Movement, like the other faith traditions represented here today, strongly believes that women are moral agents entitled to and capable of making their own health decisions.”

Speaking for the National Council of Jewish Women, Legislative Associate Amy J. Cotton will explain that “NCJW has a long history of support for women’s reproductive choices, and is proud to join some of our partner organizations to share why millions of people of faith similarly support reproductive rights. We recognize that within and across religious traditions, people can and do hold a variety of views on this issue and we submit that this diversity of opinions is a question our nation has answered by upholding the key, founding principle of religious freedom. We call on Congress to preserve this key tenet by rejecting proposals like S. 906 and S. 877, both of which—if passed—would result in the legislature endorsing one religious viewpoint over others.”

Nicolette Paterson of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice: “Members of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice—including the Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, the General Board of Church and Society and the Women’s Division of the United Methodist Church, the Unitarian Universalist Assn., and Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Humanistic Judaism—support women’s access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare, including abortion care. As religious organizations, we believe that legislation such as S. 906 and S. 877, which will hurt all women but particularly those who are poor, vulnerable and marginalized, is profoundly unjust. Comprehensive reproductive healthcare is compassionate, necessary and morally just, and our elected representatives have a duty to women and families to ensure it is accessible to all.”

Background materials about this briefing are available on request. For more information on this briefing and other issues please email media [at]