This afternoon the Portland Development Commission will hold a hearing to consider a proposal made by Planned Parenthood of the Columbia / Willamette to move their operations to a new facility in NE Portland with expanded services. The proposal has drawn some protest from a few local religious leaders opposed to abortion. Below is the testimony that I intend to deliver in favor of Planned Parenthood.
Members of the Commission:
My name is Rev. Chuck Currie. I am a resident of NE Portland’s Grant Park neighborhood and the interim minister of Parkrose Community United Church of Christ, also located in NE Portland.
Planned Parenthood provides vital services for our community. It is imperative that they be able to provide those services and expand their operations. Planned Parenthood’s programs work to prevent disease, reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies through effective family planning, and provide needed educational programs for young people to help them make responsible decisions about sexual activity.
The United Church of Christ has always been a pro-choice denomination.
Our official policy on reproductive health states:
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)
While the majority of the members of the United Church of Christ are both pro-choice and pro-family planning that does not mean our entire membership shares the same view. We have a unique system of church polity. There is no Pope and there are no Bishops who can tell local congregations or individuals what to believe on these issues. We are free as Christians in the United Church of Christ to come to our own conclusions about moral issues. Parkrose Community United Church of Christ, for example, does not have an official position on abortion but many of our members are supportive of Planned Parenthood and my predecessor in the pulpit served on their board of directors.
I believe that model is a good one for us to use here today. Some do not want Planned Parenthood to expand because of their sincere and deeply held opposition to abortion. But we should reject any attempts by those who would insist that their religious views on abortion should supersede the religious freedom of others who come to a different conclusion.
As a citizen of Portland, I implore you to support Planned Parenthood.
Related Link: Religious Organizations Support Reproductive Choice
UPDATE: PDC Backs Planned Parenthood