President Obama, as The New York Times reports, marked the anniversary of Roe vs Wade today:
“I am committed to protecting this constitutional right,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.”
Mr. Obama, the father of two young daughters, called on Americans to “recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”
Mr. Obama said the 1973 Supreme Court ruling “affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.”
Anti-choice forces are confident that they are winning a battle to restrict reproductive choices available to women, including abortion, and they have reason for their confidence. The 2010 elections brought numerous victories for those who believe government should make reproductive choices for women and anti-choice organizations are gloating.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice also offered a statement noting the anniversary of this historic Supreme Court decision:
Washington, DC - On the 38th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, women’s access to abortion services faces an unprecedented barrier. While the nation moves forward to expand health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, women’s reproductive health care is being bargained away by federal and state legislators working in tandem with Religious Right organizations. Their target is the removal of abortion coverage from the insurance exchanges - the insurance marketplaces being formed by individual states. With more than 80 percent of insurers now covering abortion, the potential loss of coverage in the exchanges will affectmillions of women in both public and private insurance plans.
Coverage for abortion was a bargaining chip in congressional negotiations over the health care bill. In an unconscionable deal, extremists demanded that coverage for abortion - a key part of women's lifetime reproductive health services - be restricted before voting to pass the bill. Singling out abortion – and treating it differently from all other health services – was a shameful political calculation that we must work to correct at the state level. Already, five states have passed legislation banning insurance companies from covering abortion services in the exchanges, and legislation is being introduced in other states daily.
RCRC today launched an interfaith social justice campaign - Insure Women, Ensure our Future – for full coverage of abortion services in the insurance exchanges. We act as people of faith whose strong family values are rooted in our diverse traditions and who believe that women’s lives are sacred, as are all lives, and must be protected. Guided by compassion and our commitment to a more just world, we hold that women deserve safe medical care throughout their lives, including abortion services if and when necessary, both for their own health and for the well-being of their families.
We appeal to state insurance officials, commercial insurers, health care providers, legislators and other concerned individuals to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care – including abortion, birth control and contraception, and pre- and post-natal care. Going backward, to a time when women lacked rights and access, is not an option.
It will be important for pro-choice advocates to work harder then at almost any point since 1973 to make sure that women don't lose their right to make their own health care decisions.
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.
There are many justice issues related to reproductive health, including access to pre- and postnatal care for all women, equal access to the full range of legal reproductive health services including abortion, the right of women to determine when, if and how many children she should have, access to emergency contraception and other family planning services and information, the right not to be sterilized against one’s wishes, and the ability of women to negotiate safe sexual practices and non-coercive sexual experiences.
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 it has supported comprehensive sexuality education as one measure to prevent unwanted or unplanned pregnancies, and to create healthy and responsible sexual persons and relationships. (General Synods VIII, IX, XI, XII, XIII, XVI, XVII, and XVIII)
A 1987 resolution adopted by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ resolved that the national setting of the UCC:
- affirms the sacredness of all life, and the need to protect and defend human life in particular;
- encourages persons facing unplanned pregnancies to consider giving birth and parenting the child, or releasing the child for adoption, before abortion;
- upholds the right of men and women to have access to adequately funded family planning services, and to safe, legal abortions as one option among others;
- urges the United Church of Christ, at all levels, to provide educational resources and programs to persons, especially young persons, to help reduce the incidence of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, and to encourage responsible approaches to sexual behavior.
We should undertake our advocacy on this issue with prayer and humility. We should acknowledge despite our strong difference of opinion on this issue that for many of our opponents they act not out of malice but with genuine concern. Some anti-choice opponents may not act out of good faith and may continue to hurl hate and venom at those who are pro-choice but we should ignore such rhetoric and focus our attention on the battle to protect the gains made by the Roe vs. Wade decision a generation ago. When possible we should seek to find common ground with those we disagree with on this difficult issue. As President Obama said today, we must "recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”