Religious Coalition Claims Most People of Faith Support Abortion Rights

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

Washington ( - A "vast majority" of people of faith support a woman's right to get an abortion, according to a participant at the annual conference of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC).

"It's a well-kept secret, but it is really true," said Ann Hayman, who spoke with Tuesday at the conference in Washington, D.C. "The Religious Coalition really represents that seventy, eighty percent of the folks out there," she added.

Rev. Carlton Veazey, president and chief executive officer of the coalition, said his group supports "a woman's right to determine when or whether to have children according to her own conscience and religious beliefs without governmental interference."

However, a spokeswoman for the conservative group Concerned Women for America (CWA), said the real motive of the RCRC is to "persuade public opinion on the issue of abortion."

"Birds of a feather flock together. People who hold to certain beliefs are going to surround themselves with other people who hold that same belief," said Wendy Wright, spokeswoman for CWA. "They may think that a lot of people of faith have that belief, but that is because everyone that they know hold the same belief that they hold."

According to Veazey, the challenge for his group is to mobilize the people who agree with RCRC's stance on abortion.

Susan Higgins, another participant at the conference, said the three-day meeting allows people to come from all over the country to network.

"It gives us a chance to network and share ideas about how to reach out to the people that we are trying to minister to," Higgins said. "That means trying to get our message of pro-faith, pro-family, pro-choice -- that there are actually faith groups out there that are pro-choice."

Lyndsey Young, one of the youth activists at the conference, said it helps young people learn how to articulate their position.

"I think it is really important for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice to be in touch with young people, to understand that the issues may be a little different and to be really in sync with what the youth need and the counseling options that they need and how they feel about things," Young said.

The core issue for young people is reproductive freedom, she said.

"Most young people that I know believe that the decision on reproductive freedom, whether it be abortion or contraception, is a choice between the woman and her God, and she should make that decision with her God," Young said.

Veazey said there is a major misconception that religious people cannot support abortion rights.

"We are trying to say that religious people can be and are in favor of a woman's right to choose," he said. "Our organization is pro-choice; it is not pro-abortion. We believe a woman should have that choice to make."

Veazey emphasized that it was not just one choice, but several that women have to make regarding a pregnancy.

"They can either have the child and put it up for adoption, they can go full term or they can terminate. But, this is a choice that they make after careful reflection and guidance from a religious leader," Veazey said.

Wright said the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice has a loose definition of faith.

"You have people who are ordained in certain Christian denominations who don't even believe that Jesus Christ is God or that He rose from the dead. Those are two of the most basic tenets of Christianity," Wright said.

Wright accused the RCRC of focusing more on abortion than on the alternatives available to women.

"What I have found with these same people is that they claim they are in support of women having options, but the only option that they provide is abortion," she said. "They do virtually nothing to help women who choose the more difficult decision of carrying a child to term, so their rhetoric just doesn't live up to their actions."

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