A total of 56 faith-based groups have sent a letter to members of the Senate voicing their support for Planned Parenthood and urging them to reject efforts to defund the organization:
We represent millions of people of faith committed to ensuring women’s health and moral autonomy. We are deeply troubled by the latest deplorable attacks on Planned Parenthood by faux groups, which demonstrate the lengths to which antiabortion extremists will go to curtail women’s right to obtain a legal medical procedure.
Our organizations share a faith-centered commitment to the most marginalized and the most vulnerable of our society, including those with limited financial means or those who live in areas with limited access to healthcare and related services. For many, Planned Parenthood is their only source of medical care. Many Planned Parenthood patients are struggling to make ends meet. … A world without Planned Parenthood would be disastrous for many women and their families—particularly young women, women of color and women in rural areas.
The letter was signed by faith groups representing a range of religious traditions, including the National Council of Jewish Women, the Episcopal Women’s Caucus, the Hindu American Foundation, Catholics for Choice, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Methodist Federation for Social Action and Muslims for Progressive Values.
It’s particularly important for people of faith to be vocal in their support for Planned Parenthood says Jon O’Brien of Catholics for Choice because there is a concerted effort underway to pressure Democrats to renounce the organization going into the 2016 election cycle. “This is an opportunistic attempt to sway the Democratic Party toward an anti-choice perspective. We see all the Republican candidates lining up around defunding Planned Parenthood and it’s really important that a sane religious perspective be offered on this issue, especially because it would have a disproportionate impact on poor people,” O’Brien told RD.
In the Huffington Post, the Rev. Debra Haffner of the Religious Institute, which also signed the letter, emphasized the importance of seeing the attacks on Planned Parenthood as a moral issue: “Playing politics to restrict or deny access to family planning services is morally wrong. It will effectively result in coercing women into childbearing. … let us remember that Planned Parenthood saves lives, promotes human flourishing and advances the common good.”
O’Brien said it’s equally important for faith leaders to call out the immoral tactics of the sham organization that spearheaded the sting, the Center for Medical Progress. “From a moral and ethical point of view, the way this was done with videos that were recorded surreptitiously and the twisting of the truth to manipulate dumb politicians to do something that couldn’t be done otherwise, is fundamentally wrong,” he said.
The faith leaders also rejected the idea that there is something antithetical about religious people supporting fetal tissue donation for scientific research (which Americans overwhelmingly support), noting in the letter that the voluntary, legal donations are used in critical biomedical research. “There’s nothing to be apologetic about regarding women donating fetal tissue for research on devastating diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and it’s important that the faith community be vocal on this,” said O’Brien.