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What Prayerfully Pro-Choice Looks Like

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 4/03/2016 Rev. Susan Russell
RELIGION AND RETIREMENT © Shutterstock RELIGION AND RETIREMENT

I am a busy parish priest half-way through Lent with Holy Week and Easter in sight in my rear view mirror -- so I quite frankly did not have time this week to write about what it means to be prayerfully pro-choice ... again.
But the orchestrated efforts to turn back the clock on women's reproductive freedom left me no other principled choice.
It boggles my mind that in the year 2016 we are still battling Congressional efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, are subject to smear campaigns using doctored videos to villainize health care providers and need to show up at the Supreme Court to resist an orchestrated campaign to regulate women's health clinics out of existence -- actions that place an unconstitutional and undue burden on women seeking the termination of a pregnancy.
And so I'm grateful to Congresswoman Judy Chu for her strong words on the House floor yesterday, including "Women in Texas are being put at risk because of anti-choice laws. I urge the Supreme Court to recognize that our rights do not depend on our zip code!" And I'm grateful to be part of a church that has been on record as pro-choice since 1989.
What does "prayerfully pro-choice" look like? It looks like this:

PRO CHOICE POSITION STATEMENT
Adopted by the Vestry of All Saints Church, Pasadena, CA, October 23, 1989
Reaffirmed by the Vestry of All Saints Church, Pasadena, CA, April 13, 2004

The Vestry of All Saints Episcopal Church,
  • Reaffirming its commitment to the sacredness of life;
  • Deeply concerned about the efforts to deny women the safe and legal abortions protected under Roe vs. Wade (1973); and
  • Convinced that a pregnant woman is the moral agent in the profound and personal decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy; and convinced that this belief is consistent with the Judeo-Christian understanding of God's empowerment of each person with the freedom to make choices, and the responsibility for those choices,
Affirms:
That no law should be enacted to force an unwilling woman to give birth to an unwanted child, within the parameters of Roe vs. Wade. A pregnant woman has the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy or to bear a child. She has the right to have access to information and counsel. She has the right to privacy in making this decision, without intrusion by the state. Safe abortion must be available to all, regardless of their economic circumstances.
That we will renew our efforts within the parish and throughout the nation to create a society in which abortion is less and less a necessary option. In our efforts to construct a loving society, where unwanted pregnancies do not occur, we advocate responsible expressions of human sexuality in the context of love and commitment. We commit ourselves to assuring the quality of life for each child born in this world.
That is what prayerfully pro-choice looked like in 1989 and I'm proud to say that's what it still looks like at All Saints Church in Pasadena in 2016.

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