National Catholic Register

Commentary

Praying for More Abortion?

Meet the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

BY Paul Kengor

February 1-7, 2009 Issue | Posted 1/23/09 at 2:30 PM

 

Most Catholics are probably un--aware of the Re--ligious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

That’s the name of a coalition of religious groups and denominations that are essentially convinced that God supports legalized abortion.

These clergy and laity literally pray to the Lord that abortion will continue as a “fundamental right” for American women. They thank God for Roe v. Wade.

The coalition comes to this position from a range of religious backgrounds and beliefs, mainly Protestant and Jewish, plus groups like the Unitarian Universalists and YWCA of the USA.

Sadly, though, Catholicism gets an unauthorized representation at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice — RCRC — by the presence of the group that defies ecclesial orders by still calling itself Catholics for Choice, which graces the RCRC membership roll, directly above Christian Lesbians Out (CLOUT).

Some 30-plus groups are members of RCRC. That may seem like a disturbingly high figure, but, out of 30,000-plus Protestant denominations, the members of RCRC (mercifully) constitute a very small minority.

Yet, while the vast majority of Christian denominations firmly reject RCRC and its teachings and do not endorse the organization, some major mainline Protestant denominations, regrettably, have formally joined the coalition’s “pro-choice” gospel, including the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ and several Presbyterian Church USA groups.

Reading RCRC’s defenses of its pro-abortion position or listening to its representatives has always been maddening. Suddenly, however, RCRC’s thinking has surged to heretofore unprecedented extremes. The RCRC brethren started pushing Barack Obama to enact the most radical abortion agenda in the history of humanity.

This recent plunge by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice began with its elation over Obama’s election.

The group immediately sent out a press release to congratulate this “pro-choice man of faith.” “Barack Obama is a man with deep respect for religious traditions who has openly and often championed reproductive health care, abortion rights and comprehensive sexuality education,” read the statement by RCRC President Rev. Dr. Carlton W. Veazey.

“His message that ‘America is one nation’ holds great promise for defusing the culture wars over abortion that have too often distracted us from addressing pressing problems such as unintended pregnancy.” The statement concluded: “We urge President-elect Obama to be a pro-faith, pro-family, pro-choice president: to uphold Roe v. Wade and reproductive choice, [and] foster respect for diverse views about abortion.”

And how does the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice suggest that Obama defuse the culture wars, the bitter divide over abortion, and show his “respect for diverse views about abortion?”

RCRC encourages Obama to plow full steam ahead with, in effect, unrestricted abortion on demand at all stages of pregnancy, aided and abetted by taxpayer funding, with abortion promotion at home and abroad, and, possibly, with the stunning elimination of freedom-of-conscience exemptions for medical personnel who choose not to participate in the killing of unborn babies.

How so?

RCRC joined several Jewish and mainline Protestant groups — including Barack Obama’s United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church and the Lutheran Women’s Caucus — as well as groups like Christian Lesbians Out, Planned Parenthood Clergy Advisory Board, plus Catholics for Choice — in urging Obama to make good on his July 17, 2007 promise to Planned Parenthood and sign the Freedom of Choice Act.

FOCA, as readers of this publication know, would nationalize abortion and overturn countless reasonable abortion restrictions agreed to by bipartisan legislatures all over America. It would be the single most significant step in likely launching unrestricted federal funding of abortion at all stages of pregnancy. Obama told Planned Parenthood in July 2007 that signing FOCA would be the “first thing” he would do as president.

FOCA is disturbing in so many ways. Most shocking, however, is the fear — articulated by the U.S. bishops — that FOCA would eliminate conscience exemptions enabling doctors and nurses to not participate in abortion procedures.

This is a classic American tradition, and it is truly breathtaking to imagine that some abortion-rights supporters are so radical and so uncharitable — and particularly those calling themselves Christians and Catholics — that they could even consider something so coercive. The bishops are aghast at this prospect.

Yet, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, as well as groups like Catholics for Choice, want FOCA.

But they don’t stop there. The letter also urges Obama to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which, as LifeNews.com aptly puts it, “prohibits the direct funding of almost all abortions and is credited with stopping hundreds of thousands of abortions since the 1970s.”

If these “pro-choice Christians” stopped there, their recommendations would be devastating enough toward unborn human life, but they want their vision to go global. The letter exhorts Obama to repeal the Mexico City Policy that, beginning with President Reagan, spares American taxpayers from funding groups that perform or promote abortion overseas. Similarly, they want Obama to fund the U.N. Population Fund’s population-control agenda.

If RCRC and its fellow travelers get what they are urging from Obama — which they likely will, since Obama favors these things — the number of abortions would skyrocket. These actions constitute abortion promotion.

That being the case, could there be any good news in this? Yes.

Groups like RCRC and Catholics for Choice have finally shown their true colors. Too many Christians have been duped by pro-choice propaganda that deems abortion a necessary evil to spare “back alley” deaths of unexpected mothers and, of course, the Big Lie by pro-choice politicians about desiring to make abortion “safe, legal and rare,” while their policies generate boom cycles for the abortion industry. They’ve shown themselves, once and for all, to be “pro-abortion.”

Where’s the good news in that? In the case of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in particular, these latest actions may finally awaken the folks in the pews at the traditional, proud mainline denominations that, for whatever catastrophic reason, have found themselves handmaidens to the work of this organization.

As just one example, consider the United Methodist Church, whose membership has lent the RCRC a modicum of legitimacy. Now is a perfect time for pro-lifers in the United Methodist Church to rally, to employ this surge in RCRC’s activities to wake up the rest of the denomination, and to fight for a successful withdrawal from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice at the next United Methodist general conference.

At the previous conference last spring, United Methodist delegates made some encouraging strides in favor of life. Even feminist Methodists discovered a form of abortion they could condemn: gender-selective abortion. The big disappointment came when the delegates decided to remain in the RCRC.

The vote, however, was close and might have gone the other way if the liberals at the conference had not disenfranchised the African delegates by holding the vote before the 100-strong African delegation arrived.

Mark Tooley, author of Taking Back the United Methodist Church, said that if not for the exclusion of the Africans by the liberals, the UMC resolution to leave RCRC “would have passed.” Tooley is confident: “We’ll win next time.”

RCRC’s extremist recommendations to Barack Obama have given the likes of UMC pro-lifers the ammo they need. Others ought to follow suit. Further, maybe RCRC’s stance will deter other liberal Protestant denominations from considering joining the coalition.

In the end, then, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’s latest actions — made possible by the election of Obama — may save a lot of Christians from further contributing to America’s deepening culture of death. Perhaps these fallen-away Protestants can join Catholics in defending unborn babies — with the exception, that is, of those Catholics who are members of Catholics for Choice.

There may be a silver lining in this after all.

Paul Kengor is a

professor of political science

at Grove City College.