Common ground. It's something we often like to talk about, but, it seems that when it comes to pro-choice and anti-choice discussions, there isn't a lot of space both sides seem comfortable sharing.
But that may be about to change. The National Association of Evangelicals has signaled that they are ready to begin to work on reducing the number of unintended pregnancies in one of the few ways we know actually works -- access to contraception. From the Pocono Record:
The NAE represents 40 denominations, many evangelical organizations and millions of American evangelicals. The NAE board of directors unanimously adopted a resolution that supports a wide range of efforts to decrease the number of abortions in the United States. According to a statement, the NAE noted results of a Gallup poll of evangelicals that "Significant majorities of (evangelical) respondents indicated support for a wide range of possible methods for decreasing the abortion rate — from parental consent and waiting periods before abortions to efforts at making adoption, pre- and post-natal care, and contraceptive services more accessible."
NAE president Leith Anderson said the group will continue its active opposition to legal abortion, but members feel that despite this opposition they wish to "seek honest conversation" about ways to reduce the number of abortions. Such conversations "should build on our shared concerns for human dignity, protecting children and promoting healthy families and communities," the resolution said.
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Of course, taking this step isn't going to be easy for the Evangelicals, who are already being harried by their "nothing but abstinence" counterparts for appearing weak.
LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) asked Aaron Mercer, the project director for NAE Generation Forum, whether the NAE felt that advocating contraceptives could drive a wedge between the pro-life efforts of evangelicals and the Catholic church, whose teachings reject contraception as part of the modern-day attack on the family.
Mercer replied that the issue was "a subject that needs more exploration right now." "We haven't made any statements on that front," he added, saying that the group had thus far merely pointed to what the Gallup poll indicated most evangelicals believed.
When it was pointed out that the "common ground" approach is often interpreted as a softened stance against legalized abortion, Mercer insisted that NAE officials "see it as part of the same effort" as previous pro-life advocacy. "The resolution makes that clear and we've stated all along that we continue to oppose abortion firmly, and we're going to continue in that vein just as we have all along," he said. "We know that ultimately abortion is going to be a problem if Roe v. Wade is on the books or off the books... and so we want to look at what are some practical ways that we can bring down that rate."
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Asked if the NAE considered making abortion illegal one of its goals, Mercer replied, "Yes. We haven't changed our goals at all."
The announcement couldn't have had better timing. Later this week, American Life League will be doing their annual "Pill Kills" protest, this time claiming that the pill doesn't just abort babies, but destroys the environment, too. And at the same time, the Catholic Bishops continue to use their strict and often incorrect medical interpretations to try and stop most contraceptives from being more easily accessible in new healthcare plans, according to Politico.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for example, opposes categorizing birth control among preventive services.
“Congressional debate on the need to cover ‘preventive services’ in health care reform centered on services needed to prevent life-threatening diseases like breast cancer, not on a need to prevent the birth of new recipients of health care,” Richard Doerflinger of the conference’s Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities e-mailed POLITICO.
“Requiring contraception and sterilization in all private health plans would be an enormous imposition on the consciences of religious organizations and others who now have the right to purchase a health plan in accord with their moral and religious values.”
With all of these factions at work, can common ground ever be reached? One can only hope.