Tennessee Faith Leaders Write Letter Supporting Abortion

An abortion foe carries a graphic brochure showing a fetus during its growth pattern which he and other abortion foes attempt to give women entering and leaving the Jackson Women's Health Organization Inc., Mississippi’s only commercial abortion clinic in Jackson, Miss., Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. The facility missed a Friday …
AP/Rogelio V. Solis

A group of some 150 Tennessee faith leaders, many of them Christian, have sent a letter to Governor Bill Lee urging him to oppose heartbeat legislation.

In the letter, the religious leaders declare their opposition to the heartbeat bill as well as “all attempts to criminalize and restrict abortion access.”

Such a law would make legislators into the decision-makers, rather than medical professionals and “pregnant people,” the letter states.

The letter was signed by pastors and other religious leaders and activists, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Unitarian Universalists, and a pagan priestess. Among the Christians, the Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran, United Church of Christ, African Methodist Episcopal, Catholic, Episcopal, Brethren, Seventh Day Adventist, Anglican, and Nazarene were represented among the signatories.

Six of the women who signed the letter identified as Catholics, despite the Catholic Church’s well-known opposition to abortion.

“From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion,” the Catechism continues. “This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”

The Catholic Church considers abortion such a grave evil, in fact, that it is one of the very few sins punishable by immediate and automatic excommunication.

In their letter, the faith leaders affirm that a woman knows best whether or not to end the life within her.

“Because we trust pregnant people, we know that these decisions are informed by tremendous reflection and not taken lightly,” the letter states. “When a person decides that abortion is their best option, they need community support not obstacles preventing safe access to medical care.”

“While there are varied opinions on abortion based on religious beliefs, as persons with deep faith commitments, we affirm a person’s right to decide when to become a parent or expand their family,” they wrote. “As people of faith and as Tennesseans, we believe in loving our neighbors and treating one another as we would like to be treated — with compassion, dignity, and respect.”

The letter follows on a series of efforts around the country to place restrictions on abortion, a measure favored by most Americans.

A Marist survey conducted in January revealed that the vast majority of Americans of both parties support legal restrictions on abortion.

Three quarters of Americans say abortion should be limited to — at most — the first three months of pregnancy, and two-thirds of Americans would like to see Roe v. Wade revisited to allow for state regulation of abortion or to ban it altogether, the poll found.

Currently, only 7 countries in the world allow abortion past 5 months: North Korea, China, Canada, Netherlands, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.

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