Health

Access to Abortion in Health Care Reform Essential

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Washington, DC - The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) today released an Open Letter from National Religious Leaders to Members of Congress urging that access to abortion services be made available in health care reform. These leaders ask that abortion be an option - as it is now - in health care plans. The campaign alleging an "abortion mandate" within current health care legislation has been refuted. Including the range of reproductive health services within health care reform does not constitute a mandate but rather a means for making available needed health care services for women.

These national religious leaders - including denominational and organizational heads and noted theologians - affirm that their views are "grounded in the teachings of our faith traditions and our commitment to social justice." The majority of faith groups in America have affirmed that abortion is a decision of conscience that should be safeguarded by government.

"Our health care system - like our nation - should respect diverse religious beliefs, and our government should resist the pressure of influential political forces to exclude access to abortion services from health care reform," said Reverend Dr. Carlton W. Veazey, President and CEO of RCRC. RCRC is the national coalition of more than 40 denominations and organizations with official positions in support of reproductive options.
The full letter and signatories are below:

Open Letter from National Religious Leaders to Members of Congress Urging Access to Abortion in Health Care Reform

Dear Members of Congress,
As religious leaders, we support public policies that are just and compassionate and prioritize the needs of those who are poor and marginalized in our society. Therefore we are opposed to attempts - many made in the name of religion and morality - to exclude abortion services from health care reform. While our reasons for supporting the inclusion of abortion services in health care are diverse, they are grounded in the teachings of our faith traditions and our commitment to social justice.

The majority of faith groups in America have affirmed that abortion is a decision of conscience that should be safeguarded by government. Further, these faith traditions affirm that health care services, including abortion, must be available to all, regardless of income. If coverage for abortion is eliminated from health care reform, the poor and communities of color will bear the consequences. Already, a low-income woman is four times as likely to have an unintended pregnancy and five times as likely to have an unintended birth as her higher income counterpart. Lack of access to abortion services perpetuates inequality and compromises the future of women, their families and their communities.

In this religiously pluralistic nation, our health care system should be inclusive and respectful of diverse religious beliefs and decisions regarding childbearing. One in three American women has an abortion by age 45, making it one of the most common medical procedures in the nation. Ignoring this truth belies the rhetoric of comprehensive, accessible health care.

A health care system that serves all persons with dignity and equality will include comprehensive reproductive health services. We call on Congress to preserve the current standard of reproductive health care and ensure that millions of uninsured and underinsured women will have access to these services.
Thank you for your consideration.

Reverend Dr. Carlton W. Veazey [National Baptist Convention USA]
President and CEO, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Washington DC

Colleen Bowers, RN
PARO - Presbyterians affirming Reproductive Options
Council of Governors, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Baltimore MD

Reverend Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock
Director, Faith Voices for the Common Good
Oakland CA

Reverend Sandra Brown
Lutheran Women's Caucus
Philadelphia, PA

Reverend. Steve Clapp [Church of the Brethren]
President, Christian Community, Inc.
Fort Wayne IN

Reverend Debra W. Haffner
Executive Director, Religious Institute
Westport CT

Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D.
Co-director, WATER - Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual
Silver Spring MD

Rabbi Steven Jacobs
Founder, Progressive Faith Foundation
Board of Directors, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Los Angeles CA

Reverend Kathryn Johnson
Executive Director, Methodist Federation for Social Action
Washington DC

Frances Kissling
Visiting scholar
Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania
Washington DC

Carolyn Kunin
Director, Department on Programming and Advocacy
Women of Reform Judaism
New York NY

Reverend Peter Laarman
Executive Director, Progressive Christians Uniting
Los Angeles CA

Reverend Dr. Ken Brooker Langston
Director, Disciples Justice Action Network (Disciples of Christ)
Washington DC

Shelley Lindauer
Executive Director, Women of Reform Judaism
New York NY

Reverend Timothy McDonald, III
Senior Pastor, First Iconium Baptist Church
Board of Directors, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Atlanta GA

Reverend Peter Morales
President, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Boston MA

Jon O'Brien
President, Catholics for Choice
Washington DC

Reverend Aaron R. Payson
Unitarian Universalist Minister
Board of Directors, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Worcester MA

Dr. Alton B. Pollard, III
Dean, Howard University School of Divinity*
Washington, DC

Reverend Lois Powell
Co-Team Leader, Justice & Witness Ministries
United Church of Christ
Cleveland OH

The Very Reverend Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale
President and Dean, Episcopal Divinity School
Cambridge MA

Nancy Ratzan
President, National Council of Jewish Women
Miami FL

Rosanne M. Selfon
President, Women of Reform Judaism
New York NY

Nancy Hunt Wirth
President, Disciples For Choice
Tulsa OK

Rabbi Shawn Zevit
Director of Outreach and Tikkun Olam
Congregational Consultant
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Jenkintown PA

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