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By Rev. Richard Cizik and Rev. Debra W. Haffner
They say that politics makes strange bedfellows, and perhaps they are right. Today, we are together in speaking out against the suffering that will be caused to low-income families if the House of Representatives’ proposed cuts to basic health services are allowed to stand.
Richard is the co-founder and president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good , a partnership of progressive evangelical organizations. He is an ordained Evangelical Presbyterian minister. Debra is the co-founder and executive director of the Religious Institute, a multifaith network of more than 5,000 religious leaders who are committed to sexual justice in America’s faith communities and in society, including sexuality education, reproductive justice and full inclusion of women and LGBT people in the life of each faith community. She is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister and a certified sexuality educator. In our previous careers, Richard was vice president for government affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals and Debra was president of the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States. On face value, it may appear that we represent very different points of view, but we have learned that we have a shared moral commitment to women and children around the world.
As religious leaders, we are both called to respond to the needs of the most marginalized, the most vulnerable, and the most likely to be excluded. Both of our organizations are committed to Goal Five of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, calling for improved global maternal health by reducing maternal mortality by three quarters and achieving universal access to reproductive health. Both of us are committed to helping create a just and equitable world where no woman will die giving birth to the next generation.
Although we hold differing moral values about abortion, we share a commitment that because life is sacred, it should never be created carelessly or unintentionally. That is why we both support the Title X family planning program, which helps avert nearly one million pregnancies in the United States annually. That is why we have a shared belief in international family planning programs, because we know that maternal mortality around the world could be reduced by more than 70 percent by improved access to reproductive health services. We support domestic and international family planning because we know it reduces neonatal and maternal morbidity and mortality, including deaths attributable to unsafe abortions–and it helps build strong families and lives.
As religious leaders, we are called to improve women’s and children’s lives. It is simply inconceivable to either of us that those who oppose abortion services also have voted to cut or eliminate family planning, prenatal care, mother and infant nutrition programs, and community health services. We stand together in calling on people of faith across the religious spectrum to stand up for the needs of low-income families and their children. We are pro-faith, pro-family, and pro-child.
As people of faith, we call on the U.S. Senate to reject the draconian and ultimately immoral cuts proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives. As religious leaders called by God to co-create a better world where all may flourish and thrive, we can do no less.
More On Faith and family planning:
Sarah Brown: Why aren’t (anti-abortion) faith leaders top advocates for birth control?
David Gushee and Cristina Page: Common sense and common ground on family planning