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Three Dozen Religious Groups, Leaders Support Common Ground Abortion Bill

July 23, 2009, 5:19 pm | Posted by Kristin Ford

Ryan-DeLauro Bill Has Broad Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Religious Support

WASHINGTON – More than three dozen religious leaders and groups from across the ideological spectrum announced their support for landmark legislation unveiled today by Representatives Tim Ryan (OH-17) and Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) that makes concrete progress toward the shared goal of reducing the need for abortion by preventing unintended pregnancies and supporting pregnant women and families.

Groups supporting the “Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Pregnant Women and Parents Act” that support the legal right to an abortion include the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, which represents 14 national Jewish organizations, Catholics for Choice, The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society, The Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, and many others.

Supportive pro-life groups and leaders include Dr. Joel Hunter, pastor of the 10,000-member Northland Church in Florida, Adam Hamilton, pastor of the 13,000-member Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City, Dr. William Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Nicholas P. Cafardi, Civil and Canon Lawyer; Professor and Former Dean, Duquesne University School of Law, Vivian Berryhill, president of the National Coalition of Pastors’ Spouses, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Sojourners. Even the immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Frank Page, has issued a statement of tentative support. (Full list of statements of support available here.)

Seven of the religious leaders supporting the legislation are members of President Obama’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Faith in Public Life has worked for years to build common ground on abortion among ideologically diverse religious leaders and played an instrumental role in gathering support for this legislation.

Three supporting religious leaders stood with Reps. Ryan and Delauro at the press conference announcing the bill.

“I urge those of good will in the pro-life community to support this bill,” said Rev. Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland–a Church Distributed and member of President Obama’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership. “It will make a real difference in resolving the national tragedy of abortion.”

“I had a chance to meet with Joel Hunter before this. I never thought we’d be in the same room,” said Rev. Carlton Veazey, President of Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, which represents 40 denominations and religious groups. “But it’s a great feeling because we can find something to share and that’s the whole crux of the matter.” Rev. Veazey praised the bill’s support for services that will “allow an increased number of low-income and uninsured women to determine when and whether to have children according to their own conscience and religious beliefs.”

“The people in my congregation who follow the same Lord but find themselves on different sides of the abortion debate need common ground, not a polarized debate that casts them into opposing camps,” said Rev. Derrick Harkins, senior pastor of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, DC and a board member of World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals. “The truly significant aspect of this legislation is that it builds on shared commitments while not requiring either side of the debate to compromise their core convictions.”

These religious leaders and organizations stand alongside secular advocates who also welcome this legislation, from Planned Parenthood Federation of America to the Family Violence Prevention Fund to the Guttmacher Institute. The think tank Third Way helped Reps. Ryan and DeLauro negotiate a years-long process that shaped this carefully-crafted bill with input from both sides.

The bill supporters intend to promote the legislation through Congress and the White House. Although the White House rarely endorses specific bills, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes called it “a very positive development.”

Audio of the press conference is available here.

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