Clergy urge access to reproductive health services

The Very Rev. Tracy Lind, dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland, and the Rev. Harry Knox, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, urge the governor of Ohio to support full access to reproductive health care. From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

There’s no doubt that reproductive health, especially abortion, raises morally serious issues, and that people of good will frequently disagree about the ethical and public policy dimensions of these debates. But as faith leaders, we have seen the suffering that these punitive restrictions create in women’s lives, and we urge Gov. Kasich to ground the state’s health care policies in the everyday needs and experiences of Ohio residents, and not in partisan politics or the religious convictions of a powerful minority.

When we counsel women facing unplanned pregnancies, we talk and pray with them while they are struggling to make faithful, responsible decisions. Six in 10 women who choose to have abortions are already mothers, and often their decision to terminate a pregnancy is motivated by their responsibility to care for the children they already have. Other women are simply not able to face the physical, emotional or psychological demands of pregnancy or child rearing. Still others, after wrestling with a difficult decision, choose to give birth.

Our sacred texts and spiritual traditions command us to respond to all of these women with compassion, dignity and respect. We support reproductive justice not in spite of our faith, but because of it. While we recognize that some people of faith strongly disagree with us, we do not believe that the strength of their convictions entitles them to force choices upon other people.

Cheryl B. Anderson, professor at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL writes on the Affordable Care Act and reproductive rights in Crain’s Chicago Business:

Business leaders following the controversy over reproductive health issues raised by the passage of the Affordable Care Act may be surprised to learn that contrary to what they might glean from television news coverage, the debate is not being waged exclusively between conservative religious leaders and secular advocates for women’s rights.

Many faith leaders believe that women and those closest to them should have both the resources and the authority to make intimate decisions regarding their reproductive lives. I know, because I am one of them. I am grateful to conscientious executives, insurance and benefits specialists, and small-business owners who are struggling to make sense of the ethical claims and counterclaims being made in the debate over access to reproductive health care

I am aware that other people of my same faith may vociferously disagree. Nevertheless, I offer them as evidence that sober reflection on the Christian holy texts and religious tradition can lead to an affirmation of programs that allow a woman to follow her own conscience in making some of the most intimate and significant choices of her life.

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