Moving Beyond “Bumper Sticker Slogans” On Abortion

January 22, 2009, 3:44 pm | Posted by
National Journal
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*For RealAbortionSolutions.org, FPL built a coalition of religious leaders who were already dedicated to common ground solutions to reduce abortions to support an ad campaign to raise awareness about this approach. So far, ads have run in 11 states and during the March for Life in Washington, DC.

In conjunction with today’s March for Life on the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, a coalition of evangelical and Catholic leaders called RealAbortionSolutions.org is running print and radio ads aimed at moderates on the abortion issue.

“With 1 in 5 pregnancies in America ending in abortion and the number of abortions unchanged from 32 years ago, it’s time to stop the political posturing and get serious about protecting life,” the radio ad says. “We need to ask ourselves what it really means to be pro-life and help move the conversation beyond bumper sticker slogans.”

The coaltion says it has an “abortion reduction” message. Its supporters include the group Faith in Public Life, and religious leaders like Florida pastor Joel Hunter, Rich Cizik, former vice president of governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals, and liberal Rev. Jim Wallis.

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Religious leaders praise Obama torture ban

January 22, 2009, 10:50 am | Posted by
Boston Globe, Articles of Faith
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Multiple religious groups are celebrating President Obama’s signing today of an executive order barring torture.

Here’s the statement from Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.

“Based upon the teachings of the Catholic Church, our Conference of Bishops welcomes the executive order. Together with other religious leaders, we had pressed for this step to protect human dignity and help restore the moral and legal standing of the United States in the world. A ban on torture says much about us – who we are, what we believe about human life and dignity, and how we act as a nation.”

Faith in Public Life compiled statements celebrating the ban from Evangelicals for Human Rights, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Rabbis for Human Rights North America, and Faithful America. Here’s the statement from Faith in Public Life:

“For three years, religious leaders and organizations from across the faith and ideological spectrum have worked tirelessly to end America’s torture of detainees in its custody. Today, the faith community applauds President Obama’s executive orders banning torture, closing the prisons at Guantanamo Bay and secret locations, ensuring Red Cross access to all detainees, and ending extraordinary rendition. Together, we call for continuing diligence in the effort to ensure the US government never tortures again.”

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Obama Throngs Replaced by March For Life Crowds

January 21, 2009, 4:00 pm | Posted by
USA Today
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*For RealAbortionSolutions.org, FPL built a coalition of religious leaders who were already dedicated to common ground solutions to reduce abortions to support an ad campaign to raise awareness about this approach. So far, ads have run in 11 states and during the March for Life in Washington, DC.

Just as anti-abortion activists swarm into Washington on Thursday, President Obama may overturn a policy that bans federal funds to non-governmental organizations for use outside the USA for abortion and birth control services or referrals.

Or he may not.

Fox News says he will here. And CNN says he will here. But no one names a source. Terry Mattingly, who keeps a watchful eye on religion coverage at the Get Religion blog, thinks the mainstream media has fallen silent on a major story on the timing of the policy switch the same day as the annual March For Life — a march by those who oppose the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion. But he doesn’t name a source for the prospect of a switch, either.

Still, anyone can see hundreds of thousands of marchers pulling into town. Many are Catholic and conservative evangelicals, such as the president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

The ban has been the policy of Republican presidents since the Reagan administration announced it in Mexico City in 1984. Pro-Life activists say lifting it would clear a path to more more abortions.

March for Life activists are also concerned that Obama or the Congress will overturn the so-called “Conscience Rule,” signed by former President Bush last month.

That rule allows anyone in the health system — from a surgeon to a pharmacy cashier — to decline to offer a service or treatment that violates their personal conscience. (More on that here.) When Bush signed it, the Family Research Council called the rule “an early Christmas present to pro-lifers …”

But pro-choice activists also plan to make public statements this week. When the pro-life marchers arrive, they’ll find print ads (here) and radio ads (here) saying the real way to fight abortion is to reduce demand.

The ads are sponsored by RealAbortionSolutions.org, which proposes “legislation that would advance the goal of abortion reduction by addressing the root causes.” The ads, packed with baby pictures, call for supporting the health and welfare of pregnant women and new mothers and preventing unintended pregnancies. (However, the means of prevention may be off limits to those who see artificial contraception as another form of abortion.)

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Democratic-Friendly Groups To Participate in the March For Life

January 21, 2009, 3:56 pm | Posted by
U.S. News and World Report, God and Country
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The annual March for Life in Washington has long been a Republican/Christian right affair, with messages sent from the White House during Republican administrations and with the Family Research Council playing host to the affiliated Blogs for Life conference. This year’s March for Life, held on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, sees the introduction of new voices to the event: moderate and liberal religious groups that advocate reducing the number of abortions by means other than overturning Roe.

A coalition calling itself RealAbortionSolutions.org, organized by the politically progressive group Faith in Public Life, has bought ads in tomorrow’s Washington Examiner and Washington Post Express and on D.C.-area Christian radio to promote a more Democratic-friendly approach toward the “pro-life” cause. The ads promote what they call “solutions based on results, not rhetoric,” by expanding adoption, supporting pregnant women and new mothers, preventing unintended pregnancies, and other steps that avoid curtailing abortion rights. You can view and listen to the ads here.

Another progressive faith group–Catholics United–is holding a legislative briefing on Capitol Hill tomorrow to offer similar policy recommendations for reducing the abortion rate. Carrying a banner that says “Congress Reduce Abortion Now,” Catholics United allies will participate in the March for Life, distributing fliers to fellow marchers that propose “effective and results-oriented approaches to reducing abortion.”

This is the kind of pro-life, anti-Christian right activity that didn’t happen much before the 2004 election. Neither of these groups, Faith in Public Life or Catholics United, even existed until after that election. Such groups claimed to have impact in closing the so-called God Gap during the 2008 election, when Barack Obama made gains among many religious constituencies. Now, we’ll see if they have any affect on policy with allies in the White House and in control of Congress.

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Common Ground On Abortion?

January 21, 2009, 1:55 pm | Posted by
Lakeland (Fl.) Ledger
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*For RealAbortionSolutions.org, FPL built a coalition of religious leaders who were already dedicated to common ground solutions to reduce abortions to support an ad campaign to raise awareness about this approach. So far, ads have run in 11 states and during the March for Life in Washington, DC.

Tomorrow, Jan. 22, there will be “March for Life” and other anti-abortion rallies all across the U.S. Anti-abortion (or pro-life, if you prefer) groups are especially concerned right now that Congress will pass the Freedom of Choice Act, which would expand abortion rights. The abortion-rights lobby is hoping for a reversal of what they see as restrictive policies under the Bush administration. So there is the potential for increased polarization on the issue. Faith in Public Life and a coalition of “progressive evangelicals” are trying to find middle ground. They’re running print and radio ads condemning the high number of abortions but proposing a four-point solution: expand adoption; support pregnant women and new mothers; increase pre- and post-natal health care; and prevent unwanted pregnancies. The last one means stronger sex education, sure to be controversial. And note there is no mention of legal restrictions on abortions. So it seems unlikely firm pro-life groups will go for the “third way.” It seems more aimed at the public, which polls indicate favor keeping abortion legal but don’t like the high numbers.

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