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Religious coalition challenges federal abortion ban on religious grounds

RAW STORY
Published: Thursday September 21, 2006

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An amici curiae brief in Gonzales v. Carhart was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court early Thursday by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), urging the court to strike down the first-ever federal abortion ban on religious grounds.

"The Court's decision in this case will have enormous consequences for every woman in this country, and for the men and children who love and depend on them," said RCRC president and CEO, Reverend Carlton W. Veazey, in a press release obtained by RAW STORY.

"This case will determine if the law will continue to protect the ability of women to choose the safest abortion procedure in cases where their health is at stake or when their baby has such severe problems that it will die shortly after birth," said Veazey.

According to the group's website, "RCRC was founded in 1973 to safeguard the newly won constitutional right to abortion."

"Today, the Religious Coalition comprises national organizations from major faiths and traditions, religiously affiliated and independent religious organizations, affiliates throughout the country, the national Clergy for Choice Network, Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom chapters, The Black Church Initiative, and individuals who support reproductive choice and religious freedom," the website continues.

Excerpts from press release:

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Fifteen other religious and religiously affiliated organizations, seven Episcopal bishops, other religious leaders and scholars, and the presidents of Andover Newton Theological School, the Pacific School of Religion, and Union Theological Seminary have joined the brief. It says:

“Because protecting the health of women is a core expression of the religious values of amici, amici agree that all women whose health is at risk should be free to seek the safest medical treatment, without governmental coercion or constraint, in making the difficult decision whether to terminate a pregnancy.”

Gonzales v. Carhart will review the constitutionality of the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003,” which was passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush just three years after the Supreme Court struck down a similar Nebraska ban (in Stenberg v. Carhart) as unconstitutional. The Bush Administration brought the current case to the Court after federal appeals courts in New York, Nebraska, and California declared the ban unconstitutional.

RCRC and the other signatories to the brief urge the Court to recognize “the abundance of religious voices speaking out against the failure of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 (the “Act”) to protect women’s health.” The brief asks the court to “not allow Congress to force a moral consensus where there is none, but rather to let the individual women who face the agonizing decision of whether to terminate a pregnancy or risk their own health do so legally, in consultation and accordance with their own conscience and faith.”

Other groups submitting the brief are the American Jewish Committee, Americans for Religious Liberty, the Anti-Defamation League, Disciples for Choice, Disciples Justice Action Network, Episcopal Women’s Caucus, Hadassah-the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ, Methodist Federation for Social Action, National Council of Jewish Women, The Rabbinical Assembly, Union for Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and Women of Reform Judaism.

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PDF of the full RCRC at this link