This post has been updated
As a Christian minister, I stand opposed to Oregon’s Measure 43.
The initiative would require parental notification for minors seeking to obtain an abortion.
Requiring parental notification for a medical procedure would seem like a logical position. Unfortunately, the reality is more complex. Dr. Elizabeth Pirruccello Newhall recently wrote in The Oregonian about her experiences providing teen-agers with medical care:
Nothing would make me happier than to have all my patients in loving communication with their parents.
But what about the girl who watched her sister get pummeled and kicked out of her home when her dad found out she was pregnant? Or the 16-year-old who showed up in labor not sure where to turn? Her 16-year-old boyfriend was trying to find housing, her mom was an unavailable addict on the streets, and her dad in California "doesn't want her."
These young women are real. They're my patients. Where do I go for parents?
I was the doctor waiting to treat Spring Adams. Remember her? She was the Idaho girl whose father shot her dead in 1989 on learning of her intended trip to Portland to abort a pregnancy resulting from his repeated rape.
Oregon voters and the Oregon Legislature have rejected attempts to require parental notification or consent before because of the deep concern shared by most Oregonians for the welfare young women.
Measure 43, an extreme law, makes no exceptions for rape or incest. Young women would be placed at serious risk.
Leaders in the Religious Right see parental notification / consent as an opening in their campaign to outlaw all abortions. Measure 43 is supported by some of the most politically extremist right-wing groups and leaders in Oregon. We cannot allow them to win this fight.
Support for reproductive rights is consistent with Christian ethics. As the United Church of Christ has stated:
God has given us life, and life is sacred and good. God has also given us the responsibility to make decisions which reflect a reverence for life in circumstances when conflicting realities are present. Jesus affirmed women as full partners in the faith, capable of making decisions that affect their lives.
If the full range of options available to women concerning reproductive health are compromised, then women’s moral agency and ability to make decisions consistent with their faith are compromised. Furthermore, poor women should have equal access to full reproductive health services, including abortion and information on family planning.
The United Church of Christ has affirmed and re-affirmed since 1971 that access to safe and legal abortion is consistent with a woman’s right to follow the dictates of her own faith and beliefs in determining when and if she should have children, and has supported comprehensive sexuality education as one measure to prevent unwanted or unplanned pregnancies. (General Synods VIII, IX, XI, XII, XIII, XVI, XVII, and XVIII)
Most mainline Christian denominations support reproductive rights in the United States.
Communities across the nation are facing the same debate and many states have already enacted parental notification and consent laws and young women suffer because of such laws. “Experience shows that teenagers who cannot involve their parents in their abortion services suffer harm in states with mandatory parental consent and notice laws. Whether they travel to other states or obtain judicial approval, the results are the same: delays that can greatly increase both the physical and emotional health risks as well as the costs,” reports Planned Parenthood.
Christians can and do come to different conclusions on the issue of abortion and I respect that.
But I don't respect legislation that would put young women at risk in Oregon.
Note: Endorsements made on this site are my own and unless otherwise stated do not reflect the opinion of any UCC congregation or related body.