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Protecting the Rights of Women

May 14, 2015

Thirty-two Faith-based and National Religious Groups Call on Congress to Oppose HR 36

May 13, 2015

Dear Member of Congress,

We, the undersigned national faith-based and religious groups, urge you to oppose HR 36, as it would mean a ban on abortion care based on arbitrary gestational limits. We stand united across our faith traditions in opposing HR 36, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ). This extreme legislation would block a woman’s access to safe healthcare and deny her the ability to make decisions according to her own beliefs and conscience. The decision to end a pregnancy must be left to an individual woman in consultation with her family, doctors and any others she chooses to involve, in keeping with her personal faith beliefs, rather than being imposed on her by federal law.

The religious values that guide our organizations call us to demonstrate compassion for any woman or family facing difficult circumstances related to pregnancy. As a woman makes this decision for herself and her family, we believe that it is neither our role—nor the government’s—to stand in judgment. Our religious values call us to offer compassion, support and respect for a woman and her family facing this decision. Our lawmakers must ensure that every person has safe and legal access to whatever care she feels is necessary and best in her situation. Each woman is a moral agent who deserves dignity and respect. It is critical that every woman has as much time as she needs to make the right decision for herself and her family.

Bans on abortion after an arbitrary gestational limit—whether 20 weeks as HR 36 imposes, or any other number of weeks—will only make a challenging situation worse. Indeed, when a woman is denied a later abortion, the consequences on her life and her family can be far-reaching, impacting health, economic security and well-being. Healthcare that does not include access to later abortion does not completely serve the economic, medical or emotional needs of women or our society as a whole.

Our religious values also compel us to advocate for policies that empower the most marginalized in our communities. Whenever bans or other severe restrictions to abortion are enacted, those most negatively affected are women without the financial resources to access safe care elsewhere. We stand with women who find themselves in difficult situations and therefore oppose policies, such as later abortion bans, that will disproportionately and unjustly compound the difficulties of families in our communities that are already struggling to make ends meet.

Naturally, people in this country have differing religious views on issues of pregnancy and parenting, including abortion. Freedom of belief is a core principle of our American democracy. However, legislation such as HR 36 that would limit access to abortion care has the practical effect of imposing one particular religious belief on all people, which does not reflect the religious freedom protections that are guaranteed to every individual by the Constitution.

The proper role of government in the United States is not to privilege one set of religious views over others, but to protect each person’s right and ability to make decisions according to their own beliefs and values.

Again, we urge you to oppose this extreme legislation, and any bans on abortion based on arbitrary gestational limits, like HR 36. Such legislation blocks a woman’s access to safe healthcare options and unjustly denies her the freedom to make decisions according to her own beliefs and conscience. Instead, we ask that you support policies that show compassion for women and families, no matter their circumstances, and respect for every individual’s religious liberty.

In faith,

A Critical Mass: Women Celebrating Eucharist

Bend the Arc Jewish Action

Catholics for Choice

Central Conference of American Rabbis

Clergy Advocacy Board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Concerned Clergy for Choice


Disciples for Choice

Disciples Justice Action Network

Episcopal Women's Caucus

Global Justice Institute

Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Jewish Women International


Methodist Federation for Social Action

Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC)

Muslims for Progressive Values

National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN)

National Council of Jewish Women

Presbyterian Voices for Justice

Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Religious Institute, Inc.

Society for Humanistic Judaism

Union for Reform Judaism

Unitarian Universalist Association

Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER)

Women's League for Conservative Judaism

Women of Reform Judaism


For more information please contact Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe, Catholics for Choice, at shratcliffe@catholicsforchoice.org or (202)986-6093, or Amy Cotton, National Council of Jewish Women, at amy@ncjwdc.org or (202)296-2558 x7.

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