This is the resolution passed by the Executive Council that admits The Episocpal Church advocates for abortion on demand.
NAC 017 - Adopted
TO: Executive Council
FROM: Standing Committee on National Concerns
DATE: January 9, 2006
RE: MEMBERSHIP IN RELIGIOUS COALITION FOR REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE
Resolved, that the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, January 9-12, 2006, approves TEC membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
This Resolution is submitted because a question has been raised about the Church’s membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
.The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) has existed for over 30 years. It was originally named Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights (RCAR). In 1993, its name was changed to what it is now. The reason for the change was a policy decision to broaden the organization’s focus beyond the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. It now deals with a wider agenda, including family planning, the bearing and raising of healthy children, adoption, day care, parental leave, and the like.
RCRC is, as its name implies, a coalition of faith communities of various kinds. Its members include the Presbyterian Office of Women’s Ministries; the Methodist General Board of Church and Society and the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries; the Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ; the Unitarian Universalist Association and its Women’s Federation; the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and many others.
RCRC is headed by a Baptist minister, the Rev. Carlton W. Veazey, who is assisted by a modest, but talented and hard-working staff in Washington, DC. It also has an office in South Africa. It is governed by a Board of Directors and a Council of Governors, the latter consisting of a representative of each of the member churches and organizations.
A key mission of RCRC is to put forward the pro-choice position of its member organizations—“prochoice” meaning leaving to the woman, and not legal authorities, the decision to terminate a pregnancy. The motto of RCRC is “Pro-Faith, Pro-Family, Pro-Choice.” It seeks to counteract the widespread belief that “church” means “anti-choice” and thereby gives support and comfort to the millions of churchgoing Americans who are pro-choice, whatever their denomination’s views on the subject. As noted above, it also addresses numerous other family planning issues.
RCRC engages in a wide variety of programs. For example, its Clergy for Choice Network, which has about 1300 members, keeps clergy alert to choice issues and provides workshops and other information about the role of clergy in pastoring to persons who are considering terminating a pregnancy or who have already done so. In addition, RCRC has a powerful, Bible-based sex education curriculum that is widely used; it also teaches about family planning. Further, RCRC keeps an eye on state and federal legislatures and attempts to state the pro-faith pro-choice position in commenting on legislative efforts that might affect the right to choose. RCRC also has a youth program, called Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom, which seeks to educate young people about family planning and choice issues and gives them an opportunity to discuss these issues freely and openly. RCRC was one of the sponsors of the March for Women’s Lives on April 25, 2004, on the Mall in Washington, DC; prior to the March it held an interfaith prayer service on the Mall.
Episcopal Church Membership
The Episcopal Women’s Caucus and the Episcopal Urban Caucus have been members of RCAR/RCRC for quite some time. In 1986 or 1987, both the Washington Office and the Women in Mission & Ministry of the Episcopal Church became members. (Inasmuch as these are not stand-alone entities, the Church itself is now identified as the member.)
It was evidently believed by the Presiding Bishop and senior staff that this reflected the repeated position of General Convention that expressed “unequivocal opposition to any legislation on the part of the national or state governments which would abridge or deny the right of individuals to reach informed decisions in this matter [termination of a pregnancy] and to act upon them.” Resolution D095, 65th General Convention (1976), entitled “Reaffirm the 1967 General Convention Statement on Abortion.”
This Resolution was reaffirmed verbatim by Resolution B009, 67th General Convention (1982), reaffirmed again in similar language by Resolution C047, 69th General Convention (1988), and again by Resolution A054, 71st General Convention (1994). These resolutions also state that abortion is permissible when the “physical or mental health of the mother is threatened seriously,” when the child would evidently be born “badly deformed in mind or body,” or when “the pregnancy has resulted from rape or incest”; in other cases a woman who is considering an abortion is “urged to seek the advice and counsel of a Priest of this Church, and. where appropriate, penance.”
In addition, the Church has expressed itself in favor of family planning. For example, the 1976 Resolution quoted above states that “the beginning of a new human life, because it is a gift of the power of God’s love for his people, and thereby sacred, should not and must not be undertaken unadvisedly or lightly but in full accordance of the understanding for which this power to conceive and give birth is bestowed by God” and that “such understanding includes the responsibility for Christians to limit the size of their families and to practice responsible birth control . . .”
Similar language appears in other of the resolutions referred to above.
In 1978, Executive Council spoke negatively, albeit ambiguously, on the subject of RCAR membership. The Episcopal Women’s Caucus and the ECW of Washington had asked that The Episcopal Church become a member of RCAR. The Council decided that the RCAR “appears to advocate an unconditional right to abortion,” which Council believed would be inconsistent with the Church’s position. As a result, Council decided not to comply with the request, although it said it “continues to support” the “unequivocal opposition” to legislative abridgment of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy expressed by General Convention, as summarized above.
The leadership at the Church Center in 1986-87 was apparently unaware of this 1978 action of Executive Council. In addition, as noted above, in 1982 General Convention had once again expressed its “unequivocal opposition” to legislative abridgment of the right of choice. Further, a 1985 effort to persuade General Convention to change this position was defeated, based in part on distribution of RCAR materials to deputies and Bishops.
It must also be noted that Council was in error in its 1978 statement that RCAR “appears to advocate an unconditional right to abortion” and is thus inconsistent with this Church’s position. This Church does advocate an unconditional legal right to abortion, as expressed in its oft-repeated “unequivocal opposition” to legislative abridgement of that right; the RCAR/RCRC is a coalition of faith communitiesthat, among other things, seeks to preserve that legal right. In addition, although different faith communities may express their positions in different ways, all members of the coalition share this Church’s further position that the decision to terminate a pregnancy should be made according to individual conscience and should not be made lightly or for frivolous reasons. (emphasis added)
In the 2003 General Convention, Resolution D045 proposed that the Church, and also the Episcopal Women’s Caucus and the Urban Caucus, withdraw from membership in RCRC. Quoting from some publications of some members of the coalition (including a quote from Whoopi Goldberg), it was argued that RCRC takes positions that are inconsistent with the position of the Church. For example, one coalition member was quoted as stating that a woman’s sexuality “is a blessing, not a curse,” that the woman’s “need to express it is to be honored, not despised,” and that the woman is “called to figure out what this unwanted pregnancy is all about” and to do so “without guilt or shame.” This was said to be inconsistent with the Church’s position that sexual abstinence should be taught and that abortion should not be used as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience.” No mention was made of the 1978 action of Executive Council described above. The premises that underlay D045 were challenged in committee, and the House of Deputies passed an amended version of this resolution that would have referred the subject of RCRC membership to a standing committee. The House of Bishops took no action and thus the matter died.
Thereafter, the Standing Commission on National Concerns did review the matter and voted 8-0 against withdrawal from RCRC.
Inasmuch as membership in RCRC is fully consistent with the oft-stated positions of General Convention on family planning and opposition to legislative curtailment of the freedom to choose to terminate a pregnancy, that membership should be affirmed.
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice formerly Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights. Religious Coalition. I deeply resent the implication that God is sanctioning the termination of innocent life and often for no other reason than that it was an inconvenient time to accept the consequences of choosing to be sexually active.
Does the Executive Committee speak for you? Are you willing to be a member of this organization? If not, have you openly reputed your forced membership in this odious organization? Have you let your diocesan leadership know how you feel?
Many believe that The Episcopal Church is a dying organization - fitting considering their ardent and vigorous advocacy for death on demand.
The photo above shows a baby in the eleventh week of pregnancy.