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Uniting for Life

Spring, 2002

National Pro-Life Religious Council, Inc.
109 2nd St. N.E.
Washington, 20013


Lifewatch Exposes RCRC Support of Partial Birth Abortions

Actions Speak Louder Than Words
By Rev. Paul Stallsworth, Editor of Lifewatch

Lifewatch, a publication of the Task Force of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality, reported in its December, 2001 issue that the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) "is flatly opposed to any restriction on any abortion, including any partial-birth abortion."

Immediately after the Lifewatch Service of Worship, on January 22nd, an attendee, Ms. Linda Bales, Program Director of the Louis and Hugh Moore Population Project at the [Methodist] General Board of Church and Society, respectfully mentioned to the Lifewatch editor that the newsletter's statement about RCRC having a position on partial-birth abortion was in error. Ms. Bales repeated her claim in a letter January 30: "I had shared with you a concern about a statement in the most recent issue of Lifewatch that stated that the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice had taken a position supporting partial-birth abortion. As I explained, that is not the case, and I appreciated the chance to clarify this with you in an informal way."

Curious about this matter, the editor telephoned RCRC. Ms. Marjorie Signer, Director of Communications, returned the call and sent a written statement containing the following: "Regarding the matter of late-term abortion, the Coalition believes that this issue should be left up to the individual member groups. In a policy position taken March 5, 1982, the Board of Directors stated that late-term abortion should not be a focus of the Coalition. The Board further stated that supporting choice and striving for religious freedom are the foci of the Coalition."

Not satisfied with the positions of Ms. Bales and Ms. Signer, the editor went on to search his files. There he found three pertinent pieces of information.

First, on April 29,1996, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice sent a letter to the members of the United States House of Representatives. The first sentence of the RCRC letter states: "As mainstream religious leaders, we write to express our Agreement with President Clinton's veto of HR 1833, the so-called 'Partial-Birth Abortion Ban,' and urge Congress not to override that veto." This letter is signed by these United Methodists: Ms. Lois Dauway, Women's Division, General Board of Global ministries; Dr. Thorn White Wolf Fassett, Executive Secretary, General Board of Church and Society; Rev. George McClain, Executive Director, Methodist Federation for Social Action; Dr. M. Douglas Meeks, Dean, Wesley Theological Seminary; Bishop Susan Morrison; and Rev. Philip Wogaman, Foundry United Methodist Church, Washington, DC.

The second piece of information was a letter from RCRC, dated Sept. 17, 1998, to members of the United States Senate. It begins with this sentence: "As national religious leaders and leaders of religiously affiliated organizations, we write to express our support of President Clinton's veto of the so-called Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1997, HR 1122. We respectfully urge the Senate to sustain the veto." This letter was signed by two United Methodists: Rev Kathryn Johnson, Executive Director, Methodist Federation for Social Action; and Rev James M. Lawson, Jr., Holman United Methodist Church, Los Angeles, CA.

Where does this research lead us? In its stated policies, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice does not have an explicit official policy on partial-birth abortion. At the same time, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, it must be admitted, engages in political activism beyond (or against!) its stated official non-policy on late-term abortion. For in 1996 and in 1998, RCRC staff set aside the fact that RCRC does not have a policy on late-term abortion, drafted a letter to support the Clinton veto of the partial-birth abortion ban, solicited signatories from the various religious communities, including The United Methodist Church, mailed the letter to federal legislators, and then notified the press of its letter-writing campaign. All of this was done to protect the legality of partial-birth abortion in American society. This organizational activity clearly establishes that the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, even if it has no official position on late-term abortion, is strongly committed to working to keep partial birth abortion legal in our society.

What is the lesson here? What an organization actually does--in this case, advocate for the legality of partial-birth abortion--is far more important than what an organization officially states--in this case, a declared non-policy on the matter of late-term abortion. Actions speak louder than words.

NPRC Holds Press Conference to Urge Ban on Human Cloning - "When the Dignity of Human Life is ignored, Human Lives are Cheapened"

On May 7, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, the National Pro-Life Religious Council and several of its member organizations presented to the press statements in support of a complete ban on human cloning…Following are excerpts from several of the statements.

National Pro-Life Religious Council

The National Pro-Life Religious Council (NPRC), representing constituent groups within the Evangelical Protestant, Old-line Protestant, Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church, firmly supports the Brownback-Landrieu bill (S. 1899) banning research (so-called "therapeutic") and reproductive human cloning. Standing on the Great Tradition of ecumenical and historic Christianity, and making our witness for the common good of American society, we are guided by the Truth that each human life is created by God, in the image of God, and therefore has God given dignity.

Ideas have consequences. False ideas have destructive consequences. When the truth of the divine origin and the dignity of human life are ignored human lives are cheapened, manipulated, violated and discarded at will.

Only a few decades ago, Nazi Third Reich physicians conducted fatal medical experiments on those whom they considered to be of lesser worth than others. They justified their immoral practices with a utilitarian argument--the idea that one should aim for the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Their utilitarianism, supported by a totalitarian government, and its dire consequences stand as a warning to all governments and societies.

In our day, human cloning is proposed for its reproductive and research benefits. However, human cloning would set aside the truth of the human person, treating human beings as commodities to be manufactured, manipulated, and marketed for the alleged good of other, more powerful human beings. Human cloning would cheapen human life and coarsen society; it would ignore the warning of the Third Reich.

Through their vote on the Brownback-Landrieu bill, United States Senators will decide which direction they will lead American society. Voting against the Brownback-Landrieu bill, the U. S. Senate would lead American society toward the unacceptable belief that one human being can be used to benefit another. All people of conscience, and especially Christian people, will want to know who stands for the dignity of all human life and who stands against it....

We join our prayers and our voices in urging our senators to vote for the Brownback-Landrieu bill, to lead us toward human dignity and the expansion of civil society.

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod adheres to the fundamental truth that life begins at conception. This church body will always reaffirm and celebrate life, and we will always protect the sanctity of human life.

The Synod, at its 1998 Synod convention, passed a resolution directing its members to "reject without reservation as contrary to God's Word any technique or method of human cloning that results in the destruction of human embryos or the creation of human embryos for the purposes of fetal tissue research or organ harvesting or transplantation."

The current cloning debate revolves around whether so called therapeutic cloning should be permitted under law. Since "therapeutic cloning" would result in the destruction of human embryos, we reject this practice as contrary to the Word of God in our 1998 resolution. It is for this reason that The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod supports the Brownback-Landrieu Cloning Ban, Senate Bill 5.1899, since this bill clearly bans not only reproductive cloning, but also so-called therapeutic cloning.

Submitted by LCMS President Rev. Dr. Gerald B. Kiesnick

The United Methodist Church

As United Methodists, we have church teaching on human cloning.... The Book of Discipline contains our church's Social Principles. The social principle on Genetic Technology (Paragraph 162M), declares, in part: "We oppose the cloning of humans..."

In addition, The Book of Resolutions adds rationale and specificity to the Social Principles. Resolution 91 states, in part: "We call for a ban on all human cloning, including the cloning of human embryos. This would include all projects, privately or governmentally funded, that are intended to advance human cloning. Transcending our concerns with embryo wastage are a number of other unresolved and barely explored concerns with substantial social and theological ramifications: use or abuse of people, exploitation of women, tearing of the fabric of the family, the compromising of human distinctiveness, the lessening of genetic diversity, the direction of research and development being controlled by corporate profit and/or personal gain, and the invasion of privacy...."

For reasons related to the protection and advancement of God-given human dignity, The United Methodist Church unqualifiedly opposes all human cloning. Therefore, we United Methodists call on the U.S. Senate to pass S. 1899, which would ban all human cloning in the United States.

Submitted by Rev. Paul Stallsworth, President, Lifewatch.

Presbyterians Pro-Life

Presbyterians Pro-Life, a pro-life educational witness and advocacy organization composed of clergy and lay people, both men and women, who are members of the Presbyterian Church (USA), stands unequivocally opposed to all forms of human cloning and in full support of the Brownback/Landrieu bill presently under consideration in the U. S. Senate. Presbyterians stand with the overwhelming national consensus of virtually 90% of our people in calling for an immediate ban on human cloning.

The deceptive and misleading distinction between "reproductive" cloning and "therapeutic" or research cloning is both an artificial distinction without a difference, and a dreadful admission that the cloned embryos will be killed. Cloning is reproduction at its very heart, and when advocates of so-called "therapeutic" cloning affirm that they do not want to make a cloned baby; that they only want to advance medical research; they are in fact admitting that they intend to kill the cloned embryo. This is the only way that "research" on cloned embryos can take place. Spurred on by lobbyists for the biotechnology industry, who hope to make billions of dollars by this new technology, many members of the U.S. Senate have been persuaded to sponsor what they call a "compromise" bill. But such a "compromise" still leads to the same result: human life is created to be killed. We affirm that embryonic life, even in its simplest and least complex forms, is still human life.

At the heart of this issue is the question of what constitutes a human life and under what conditions is human life NOT to be protected. For Christians, it is a question of the application of biblical teaching. Each human life began as a fertilized ovum. It is the way our Creator designed us, and God assures us in Holy Scripture that he knew us before we were in the womb and that he ordained every one of our days before even one of them began. (Jer.1:5; Ps. 139:16).

A recent statement by Princeton University Professor of Jurisprudence Robert George elaborates on the meaning of these passages. He said that human embryos are: "whole, living members of the human species…capable of directing from within their own integral organic functioning and development into and through the fetal infant, child and adolescent stages of life and ultimately into adulthood. [The being that is] now you and me is the same being that was once an adolescent and before that a toddler and before that an infant and before that a fetus and before that an embryo."

This is a moral issue of gargantuan proportions, and anything less than a total ban on all human cloning would result in an ethical crisis that will affect the moral fiber of the entire nation. We call on the U. S. Senate to pass the Brownback/Landrieu bill banning human cloning now.

Submitted by Mrs. Terry Schlossberg, PPL Executive Director

Priests for Life

Priests For Life joins with our fellow Christians in support of the Brownback-Landrieu Bill S.1899 which bans human cloning of any kind.

Once life is special ordered rather than conceived, human beings are treated more as products to be manufactured than persons with rights.... Human cloning is another terrible assault on the sanctity of life ethic on which this nation was founded. We reject the idea that we are imposing our morality on anyone by promoting the sanctity of life [which] is no more a sectarian doctrine than is the Declaration of Independence a sectarian document. In a pluralistic society, we have a right and a duty to defend this principle by every ethical and legal means at our disposal.

.... Though we are all different, we are of equal value in the eyes of God. To support human cloning is to stand in opposition to this dream of equality and is an exercise in eugenics. All human beings must be treated with dignity and respect from the first moment of their lives. It is wrong to produce a human being for the use of others.

.... The cost of human cloning is too high. The cost is a loss of the realization that every human life is sacred and that each of us have an inherent dignity based on the fact that we are human beings. The consequences of human cloning may be worse than we imagine.

Submitted by Anthony DeStefano, PFL Executive Director

When is A Baby A Baby?

By Vera Faith Lord, Orthodox Christians for Life

They had warned me about him. They said he was a "troublemaker" and if I allowed him to ask a question, I would be answering at my own risk. I am a professional speaker. I travel all over the USA, speaking on women's health issues. That day, I was in the auditorium of a huge Catholic high school, and the subject was Post-Abortion Syndrome, the devastating disease that affects millions of families nationwide.

My 30-minute speech was finished and the question and answer phase has begun. There he was. The troublemaker. Looking like a 16-year-old version of Dennis the Menace and waving his arm in the air. It didn't help matters that he was in the front row. I looked toward the three school administrators and saw three faces conveying sympathy, but offering no help. I had answered in depth every other student's question until there was only one hand still raised. There were five long minutes left until the bell. I thought, "He's only a 16 year old kid--I've been challenged by middle-aged intellectuals and emerged triumphant -- Here goes." I looked at him, and in my most non-threatening earth mother tone, said "Ok-your turn."

He stood up. Bad sign. None of the others had stood to ask their questions. He faced the group and asked, "Can everybody hear me? Turning to me, he drew himself up to his full height of about 5'4", and finally asked his question: "I know it's a baby from conception on--but when does SOCIETY say it's a baby?"

He sat down and I saw for the first time, not an adversary to be overcome, but a young boy honestly looking for the answer to a BIG QUESTION. Time stopped. I had no clue what to tell him. Silently, in the depths of my soul I spoke to God--more accurately I SHOUTED to God: "You got me into this, now You get me out. You answer this question."

Meanwhile, back in the auditorium, only seconds had actually passed. I heard my own voice speaking. "Thank you for asking the best question I've ever been asked by anyone, young or old." He beamed.

I looked at the audience. "The question is `when does society say it's a baby' and here is the answer: it depends entirely on the woman that the baby is living inside of. If she WANTS him, we have baby showers and grandparents make toasts, and names are chosen, and sonagram pictures are shown to all. Her responsibility to him is to love and protect him and do everything to make sure he's healthy for the whole nine months that he's inside her. Baby showers, chosen names, celebrations--He's a BABY. If she doesn't want him, society says that this very same baby is NOT A BABY, but a piece of tissue, and she has the same responsibility to him as she has to the hamburger she had for lunch."

Long seconds passed. Off to my left, one of the teachers was dabbing at her eyes. The troublemaker's whole appearance had changed. He had a very primal look on his face. It was the look we all get for one small moment when we see true WRONG for the first time. He was red-faced and scowling when, forgetting to raise his hand, he shouted out, "But that's NOT RIGHT."

I think sometimes the young see injustice in sharper focus than their elders. A line from one of my favorite novels reads: "He is awake now--his eyes are forever open." The troublemaker was all of humanity at that moment. His righteous indignation was there for all to see. The other students understood because, beneath their armor of suave teenage sophistication, they agreed with him. They all "got it." The world hadn't had time to smooth out their edges and blunt their sense of injustice yet. Irrationally I hoped it never would.

That day happened two years ago. I'm still speaking all over the country, and, in my travels, I've mentioned the boy's question and the answer many times. The point always gets across and afterward, I often hear compliments on what a great answer it was. I smile graciously and say thank you. If I happen to be speaking to an audience of clergy, I say what the clergy audiences already know: on that day two years ago when the troublemaker asked his question, it was I who spoke the words, but it wasn't I who answered.

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