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Faithful Should Fight to Ensure Reproductive Choice

Statement of Reverend Dr. Carlton W. Veazey,
President and CEO, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Washington, DC--My message on the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade is a call to care for the most vulnerable.

In this economic crisis, which is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest, it is an ethical imperative to serve the common good. In marking the 36th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision on January 22, I call on the faithful to protect the lives of women and children by fighting to ensure that reproductive health care is accessible and that abortion services are safe, legal, and available.

The doubters and dividers have lost no time in demanding that reproductive health services be cut back - in the name of economy and righteousness. Cutting back services is wrong, morally and fiscally. The reality is that the cycle of poverty often revolves around unintended and unwanted pregnancy.

A woman living in poverty 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. The link between family planning and overcoming poverty is well established. Comprehensive reproductive health services contribute to better health for infants, children, and women and improve social and economic opportunities for women and their families.

Even before the current downturn in the economy, the discrepancy in reproductive health between the rich and poor was dramatic. Current economic problems will only increase the need for reproductive health services and, if cutbacks are made, add more barriers to access to services. This is unacceptable.

Let us put aside our differences and honor our shared values of accessible health care and intentional parenthood by supporting measures to ensure services are available. I call on people of faith to lead the way to greater understanding of the causes of unwanted and unintended pregnancies. Our faith communities can be the spark of justice that moves government to make available the resources needed to reduce unintended pregnancies. These resources include comprehensive and medically accurate sexuality education, increased funding for family planning services, expanded Medicaid coverage for family planning, accessibility of emergency contraception for rape victims, and insurance coverage for contraception. These and other measures are in the Prevention First Act introduced at the start of the 111th Congress.

Please contact your members of Congress - in the Senate and in the House- and ask them to move forward to adopt this legislation, in the knowledge that a more just, caring and life-affirming America will emerge.

Editor's Note: To read an opposing view on the meaning of Roe v. Wade's anniversary from Operation Rescue, click here.



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