Why The New Abortion Common Ground Bill Matters (Ryan-DeLauro)


The "common ground" abortion legislation re-introduced today does seem to represent real political progress.

I’m on jury duty today so I haven’t been able to do any extra reporting but looking over the summary of the legislation, known as "Ryan-DeLauro," here’s what’s provisionally strikes me:

For starters, last time Planned Parenthood would not sign on to this
bill. This time they did. So the legislation pretty much as the full
support of the pro-choice world. (See the full list after the jump)

At the same time, the bill’s sponsors were able to get some serious
pro-life people to endorse legislation that includes expansion of
family planning and sex education. We now have a clear division in the
pro-life community between those willing to promote contraception as a
piece of the puzzle to reduce unintended pregnancies and those who
won’t.

No major pro-life groups endorsed the bill, and Doug Johnson of the
National Right to Life Committee calls it "a scam" and especially
criticizes portions of the bill that will end up funding groups like
Planned Parenthood which, in addition to doing the family planning work
they’ll get money for, also performs abortions.

The pro-lifers who signed tend to be on the progressive side but the
group includes a few who are moderates or even cultural conservatives,
such as Rev. Joel Hunter of Lakewood Church, Rich Cizik, the former
vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals and Rev.
Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership
Conference. Significantly, Frank Page, the immediate past President of
the very conservative Southern Baptist Convention, "tentatively"
supported the bill. (Full list of pro-life supporters below).

The pro-lifers got something of great importance to them: more support for women who want to carry a baby to term. Specifically:

  • A National Information Campaign to "promote accurate and
    positive information and messages on adoption and the benefits it can
    bring to children and families."
  • An increase in the adoption tax credit from $10,000 up to $15,000
  • Money
    to increase the availability of ultrasound equipment. (Many pro-lifers
    believe that the more women who get ultra sounds, the more will choose
    continuing a pregnancy rather than choosing abortion)


Joel Hunter explained his support:

"We need an all-encompassing approach: comprehensive sex
education with an abstinence emphasis, better access to contraception
for low-income women, and better enlistment of parents in preventing
teen pregnancy. We also need to increase awareness about adoption and
ensure that pregnant women and new families have the support they need
to finish school, put food on the table and feel confident that their
new family can thrive."


This breakthrough resulted from many years worth of bridge building and discussions, with the group Third Way playing
a key roll. They adopted a simple principle: rather than forcing
compromises, let’s focus mostly on what we already agree on.

Nonetheless, it took a certain leap of faith by certain pro-lifers
that the sex education money won’t go toward polarizing liberal causes
like condom distribution in public schools and by the pro-choicers that
the pro-adoption efforts won’t evolve into efforts to ing a "coerce"
women into choosing that path over abortion.

There’s a lot in this bill that is easy to support — who doesn’t
want better maternal health care? — but each side had to take some
risks, too.

(Below is the list of pro-life and pro-choice sponsors)

As far as I can tell, the pro-life endorsers of Ryan-Delauro are:

• Brian D. McLaren, Author/Activist
• Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
• Charles C. Camosy, Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics, Fordham
University; Coordinator, Curran Center for American Catholic Studies
Conversation Project
• Dr. David P. Gushee, Distinguished University, Professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University
• Dr. Frank S. Page, Pastor, Taylors First Baptist Church, Taylors, SC; Immediate Past President, Southern Baptist Convention
• Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland – A Church Distributed
• Dr. Paul de Vries, President, New York Divinity School
• Dr. William Shaw, President, National Baptist Convention
• Glen Stassen, Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary
• Joe Battaglia, Founder and President, Renaissance Communications
• Jonathan Merritt, Faith and Culture Writer, and National Spokesperson, Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative
• Lisa Sharon Harper, Author, Evangelical Does Not Equal
Republican…or Democrat; Cofounder and Executive Director, New York
Faith & Justice
• Lisa Sowle Cahill, Professor of Theology at Boston College; Past President, Catholic Theological Society of America
• Nicholas P. Cafardi, Civil and Canon Lawyer; Professor and Former Dean, Duquesne University School of Law
• Rev. Adam Hamilton, The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection
• Rev. Derrick Harkins, Senior Pastor, Nineteenth Street Baptist Church
• Rev. Gabriel A. Salguero, Executive and Public Policy Advisor, The Latino Leadership Circle
• Rev. Joseph A. Darby, Senior Pastor, Morris Brown African Methodist Episcopal Church
• Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
• Richard Cizik, President, The New Evangelicals
• Ronald J. Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action
• Sojourners
• Vivian Berryhill, Founder and President, National Coalition of Pastors’ Spouses

As far as I can tell, the pro-choice endorsers are:

• American Civil Liberties Union
• American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
• Anti-Defamation League
• Catholics for Choice
• Faith in Public Life
• Family Violence Prevention Fund
• Frances Kissling, Visiting Scholar, Center for Bio-ethics at the
University of Pennsylvania; Former President, Catholics for Choice;
Member of the Board of Directors, Religious Coalition for Reproductive
Choice
• Guttmacher Institute
• Jewish Council for Public Affairs
• Kate Michelman, Former President, NARAL Pro-Choice America
• Marilyn Cohen, Executive Director of the Sioux City Jewish
Federation; Former Director of the Emma Goldman Clinic for Women;
Co-Author of "A Search for Common Ground on Clinic Activism"
• Melissa Rogers, Visiting Professor of Religion and Public Policy,
Wake Forest University Divinity School; Former Director, The Pew Forum
on Religion and Public Life
• NARAL Pro-Choice America
• National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
• National Coalition of American Nuns
• National Council of Jewish Women
• National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association
• National Partnership for Women & Families
• National Women’s Law Center
• NETWORK- A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
• Nicholas P. Cafardi, Civil and Canon Lawyer; Professor and Former Dean, Duquesne University School of Law
• Planned Parenthood Federation of America
• Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
• Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
• SIECUS – Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States
• The Abortion Care Network
• The Episcopal Church
• The General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church
• The Rebecca Project for Human Rights
• Third Way
• Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
• United Church of Christ
• Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual

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