Thursday, September 13, 2012

Diverse Religious Leaders Affirm Contraceptive Access as 'Moral Imperative'

By Rev. Debra Haffner
Originally posted 9/13/12 at the Huffington Post

There is a picture I've seen on the Internet of an elderly woman holding a sign that says, "I can't believe I'm still protesting for birth control." As a woman who came of age in the 1970s era of easy birth control availability, neither can I. Surely, almost 50 years since the Griswold decision, I never would have predicted that contraception would once again be controversial.

After all, nine-in-10 heterosexually active women use family planning, nine-in-10 Americans believe that birth control use is morally acceptable, and three quarters of voters in 2012 agree that "we should do everything we can to make sure that people who want to use prescription birth control have affordable access to it."

Yet, during the past two years, there have been efforts to pass so called "Personhood Amendments" that would criminalize hormonal methods of birth control, the federal government almost closed down because of an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, and contraceptive coverage in health care reform is being challenged by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, calling its inclusion as a preventive health service an attack on their "religious liberty." Given these efforts, coupled with increased restrictions on abortion and politicians' ridiculous statements on how pregnancy does and doesn't occur, the idea that there is a new "war on women" seems all too believable.

I am proud to tell you that this morning, 38 nationally recognized and theologically diverse religious leaders are joining me in affirming safe, affordable, accessible and comprehensive family planning services. They include current and past heads of denominations, such the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black (United Church of Christ), the Rev. Wes Granberg-Michaelson (Reformed Church in America), the Rev. Peter Morales (Unitarian Universalist Association), and the Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins (Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)); presidents of seminaries such as Dr. Philip A. Amerson (Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary), the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones (Union Theological Seminary) and The Very Rev. Katherine Ragsdale (Episcopal Divinity School); organizational heads such as Dr. Richard Cizik (the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good), the Rev. Harry Knox (Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice) and Jon O'Brien (Catholics for Choice); and nationally recognized theologians such as the Rev. Dr. Tony Campolo, the Rev. Dr. Larry Greenfield and Dr. Mary Hunt. They have all endorsed the Religious Institute's new Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Family Planning.

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