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Standing behind a commitment to gender justice

Groups call on Presbyterians to support Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021

by the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns and the Office of Gender & Racial Justice | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The U.S. Capitol (Photo courtesy of the Office of Public Witness)

LOUISVILLE — The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC) and the Office of Gender & Racial Justice are calling on Presbyterians to stand behind the commitment the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has made to seeking gender justice by joining the two groups in advocating for Senate passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021. The need for access to safe and legal abortion, the groups state, is one that exists within the pews of the PC(USA) and beyond.

Passed in the House of Representatives in September 2021, the Women’s Health Protection Act was written “to protect a person’s ability to determine whether to continue or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide abortion services.”

According to a letter written by ACWC and the Office of Gender & Racial Justice, hundreds of state restrictions creating obstacles or virtual prohibitions on access to safe and legal abortion, coupled with the tenuous hold of Roe v. Wade at this time make passing the Women’s Health Protection Act urgent. Reproductive healthcare is a human right, the groups state.

Since 1992, the PC(USA) has made clear our belief that God gives all people the ability to make good and moral choices in their lives, including decisions around whether to continue a pregnancy. The 220th General Assembly (2012) reiterated some of the commitments our denomination has made (On Providing Just Access to Reproductive Health Care):

… no law should impose criminal penalties against any woman who chooses or physician who performs a medically safe abortion.

… no law should deny access to safe and affordable services for the persons seeking to terminate a problem pregnancy.

No law or administrative decision, the General Assembly said, should provide for a complete ban on abortion.

No law or administrative decision should, according to the General Assembly:

  • limit access to abortions
  • limit information and counseling concerning abortions
  • limit or prohibit public funding for necessary abortions for the socially and economically disadvantaged.

Now is the time, the letter states, to back up our policy commitments with prophetic advocacy.

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