Human Rights Update tramples Catholic conscience; silent on China forced abortions Print

Presbyterians are a compassionate people. We have a long history of caring for the vulnerable and the hurting. We are proud of our reputation for engagement in public policy. Our understanding that God demands justice propels us to advocacy on behalf of the weak and oppressed. With unity we could be a formidable force for good in the world, but we are not united.

Often I regret that the political positions taken by the Advisory Committee for Social Witness Policy put us in opposition. I have usually been grateful for the Human Rights Updates that educate us about issues of injustice which should concern us all. Not so this time!

In the 2012 report, ACSWP addresses women's reproductive health care, workers' rights, and domestic civil liberties. Recommendation 1 would give the report the weight of policy, send it out for study to the church, and encourage its use in advocacy. It is no surprise that the section on women's reproductive health care contains much with which pro-life Presbyterians will disagree.

The report portrays Catholic opposition to the Health and Human Services Mandate as though their objection itself is a violation of women's rights! The HHS mandate forces employers to provide contraception and abortion coverage for employees regardless of their religious beliefs. Catholics reading this report (it is some relief to know that hardly any will) are certain to find offense in this unwarranted attack on their right to religious freedom.

ACSWP frames Part I of their report (reproductive health care) by an account of history with contraception as a "right" and the control of "reproductive capacities" as essential for women. ACSWP equates restrictions on contraception and abortion with a denial of womens' equality. There is no consideration for the life of the vulnerable child in the womb—that life that is violently snuffed out in an abortion.

It is most troubling that this report does not mention the plight of women in China who are forcibly aborted when they become pregnant with a 2nd child. In today's news is the story of a woman seven months pregnant, dragged into a hospital where physicians aborted her child and left the dead baby lying next to her on her hospital bed. Why? She did not pay the fine for a 2nd child. This particular example took place after ACSWP's report was written, but it is not the first or only such report from China. And, the GA in 2010 did speak out against forced abortion.

If our PCUSA policy on abortion leads us to object when religious freedom is implemented so as not to pay for contraception and abortion, but remains silent when a woman's freedom to bring a wanted child to birth is violated—then we have the wrong policy! These actions do not reflect God's heart toward humankind. Surely we can do better than this!