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Monday, January 21, 2008

RCRC Statement on the 35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Statement of Reverend Carlton W. Veazey, President and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, on the 35th Anniversary of the Landmark Decision

January 21, 2008

Washington, DC--On the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, our country is on the brink of abandoning its commitment that abortion will be safe, legal, and available if and when it is needed. The U.S. Supreme Court's Gonzales v. Carhartopinion and the "fetal personhood" initiatives and outright abortion bans being promoted in at least 17 states are sounding the death knell for the landmark constitutional decision.

At this point of crisis, compassionate clergy leadership is needed to awaken the silent majority of Americans who are pro-choice. Americans know that abortion is a profoundly personal decision and that women who struggle with that decision deserve respect. They know there is no one right or wrong decision about abortion and that criminalizing abortion will drive women to dangerous illegal providers but will not eliminate the procedure. They deserve to know that the majority of their religious communities support abortion being legal and available to all women, including those who are poor and need government assistance.

Government is failing in its responsibility to protect women's health, lives and dignity. As in the dark days before Roe v. Wade, when abortion was illegal, dangerous and deadly, clergy and religious leaders are taking up that sacred responsibility. Hundreds of clergy and religious leaders in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice are speaking out to protect reproductive health decisions based on individual faith and conscience, and our voices will continue to grow stronger.

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is the national interfaith coalition of religious and religiously affiliated organizations from 15 faith traditions that support reproductive choice on religious and moral grounds. Founded in 1973, RCRC programs and services include Clergy for Choice, Seminarians for Choice, The National Black Church Initiative, La Iniciativa Latino, Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom, All Options Clergy Counseling, faith-based sexuality education, and public policy, advocacy and education.

Contact: Marjorie Signer, 202-628-7700 ext 12, cell 202-341-5559,

RCRC Black Church Initiative

La Iniciativa Latina


susankay said...

This is a tough issue for many people and a moral issue for everyone. My feeling is that women have been making tough moral decisions ever since there have been women -- and we should continue to delegate that quandry to those most able to deal with it.

PseudoPiskie said...

Tough issue. Nobody's business.

JimB said...

I think we need to say, long and loud, that this is a decision to be made by the people involved and not, ever, government.

Of course, were as some hope, Roe repealed, each State would be on its own. That actually would be a bit less terrifying than a Huckabee amendment to the constitution to define 'life' federally. But it is still the wrong people involved. Legislators are not as a group, pregnant, they should butt out!


Grace said...

Mother Kaeton,

I know this is a very difficult subject, and equally committed Christian people can disagree. But, I personally feel that we need to take another look at Roe vs. Wade. With the event of modern ultrasound, and advancements in neo-natal medicine, we have a window into the womb, and the means of saving the lives of unborn children at earlier, and earlier stages of gestation.

Our unborn children have value in themselves apart from being wanted or unwanted. As women, can we say that we own our children, and that even an unborn child has no intrinsic right to life?

It seems to me that we need to develop a consistent life ethic, find ways to support women facing a crisis pregnancy, and at a certain point in the pregnancy also provide legal protection for unborn kids. We need to come together across this divide, and find a better balance, I think, Mother Kaeton.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Grace, If life were the least bit consistent, I might agree with you that we should develop a "consistent life ethic." I agree that those who support the 'pro-life' to those who think abortion is always a tragedy need to take more responsibility for dealing with the child that is born in less than perfect circumstances. This include making certain that our children are given positive attitudes and correct information about sex and sexuality - including methods of birth control.

Personally, I think we're at that 'better place' - that women have the absolute moral right to determine what happens to and in their bodies.

It sounds simplistic, but it has never been more true: If you don't want an abortion, don't have one."

Thanks for your respectful tone, Grace. I hope I have returned it in kind.

Grace said...

Yes, you have, Mother Kaeton. Thank you!!

We can be praying for each other, and for the church in general, that God will give us wisdom to find common ground, and a unity together about this whole issue.

Brian said...

At the risk of sounding simplistic, abortion doesn't just affect the mother's body, but the body of the person inside them. They are destroyed and discarded, like food scraps.

Yes, I am pro-life. I dont hate those who get abortions, I dont hate the doctors, I do pray for them and grieve over the loss of life. As I hold my 8 week old son, the images of the abortion video I watched recently ( watch at own risk, but please watch!)bring such a grief over my soul for the millions who, unlike my son, never got the chance to experience life, either with there birth mother, or an adoptive family.

Overturning Roe V Wade will not end abortion. I am not that naive to think so. The only thing that will end abortion is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even so come quickly Lord Jesus, and bring back with you the untold millions who were robbed of life, who are in Your presence.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Well, Brian, it's now 38 years since Roe v. Wade. The point of the Supreme Court decision was all about "personhood". They determined that, before 3 months gestation, there is no 'person' - except the mother. I know you disagree with that, but the SC made that decision based on the best information available from the best in medicine and science.

We are not a theocracy in this country. That's for places like Iran and Iraq. We are a democracy. We don't make laws based on any one particular religious belief. Thanks be to God!

I am also pro-life. I value the life of the fetus and the woman. Jesus trusted women - and so do I - to do what is best for her and her family and her future.

Hold your baby snug and keep him safe and warm. He's lucky to have a daddy who wants him and loves him. There are fewer and fewer of him out there in the world, whose fates are far worse than abortion.

Al Grayson said...

"Tough issue. Nobody's business"...kid.

Al Grayson said...

In the debate over life and death someone is left out of the debate. (S)he is weak and unable to defend her(him)self. If no one is to be permitted to speak on behalf of the weakest, most defenseless of Americans, there is no debate, only the side of those who disregard the fundamental right to life of those innocent, defenseless fellow Americans.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Al - Here's a lesson in Reproductive Rights 101: A fetus is not a person. That's a medical and a legal definition.

The only person who can speak to the issue of reproductive rights is the woman in whose body the fetus is carried.

That's good enough for me. That's a real respect for life - especially the life of a woman.

Al said...

Elizabeth - "A fetus is not a person."

Your opinion.
The definition of "person" is "human being."
A human fetus (Latin for "offspring") is certainly human. As a body distinct from the mother, the human fetus is a distinct being.
"Person" is used in other contexts, but none apply to the unborn human being so as to deny the human fetus' membership in humankind.
"Fetus" can mean the offspring of other living organisms. A dog fetus is a dog. A duck fetus is a duck. So the human fetus is a human.

At one time, slaves, though human beings, were denied legal "personhood." They had no rights the free were bound to respect.

At one time, Jews, though human beings, were denied legal "personhood." They had no rights "Aryans" had to respect.

At one time, Slavs and Gypsies, though human beings and "Aryans" (Caucasians), were denied legal "personhood." They had no rights Germans had to respect.

At one time, blacks, though human beings, were denied full legal "personhood." They had no rights whites had to respect.

The "fetuses" of Jews, Slavs, Gypsies, blacks and others, though human beings, are denied legal "personhood." They have no rights the born have to respect.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hi, Al, Your various definitions are not definitions but rather your opinions. An "Offspring" is not descriptive of a person but of a genetic status. You are confusing legal status with theological and philosophical arguments.

A person in this country - no matter their ethnic or racial origin, gender or gender identification, sexual orientation, or physical ability - is granted the ability to vote solely on their age and cognitive abilities.

A collection of cells is not a person. It's a zygote. It can not think, act, or live independently.

But, you know all that.

The real question is who gets to decide whether or not to allow that collection of cells to mature and grow into a human life which will eventually be born and, eventually, gain the legal status of personhood.

Those who believe in Reproductive Justice maintain that, since the life form is part of a woman's body, she gets to decide. Unless and until other women and men will take responsibility for that life form growing into a human life form until that human can attain personhood, then it is a woman's choice.

If we can trust a woman with a baby she doesn't want and didn't plan for and can not take care of, why not trust her to make the decision about whether or not to abort?

Never mind. I think I know your answer to that question.