SHOCK: Dozens of ‘Christian’ faith leaders sign letter supporting ‘right to…abortion’
DES MOINES, Iowa, March 20, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Sixty-eight faith leaders who say they are Christian signed a letter of protest against a proposed Iowa law that would protect preborn children from abortion once their heartbeat is detectable.
"As faith leaders, we want to use our collective voices to stand with Iowa women in support of their constitutional right ... to an abortion," the letter to the editor of the Des Moines Register begins. Speaking against the Iowa Heartbeat Bill, the faith leaders write supportively of a pregnant mother's "private medical decisions,” referring to her choosing abortion.
“Most Iowans, people of faith and no faith, believe in and are standing with every woman’s right to be in control of their bodies and the healthcare decisions that impact their lives. We stand with Iowa women, too,” they state in the March 15 letter.
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Mainline Protestant denominations led the letter in both numbers and prestige, with a female United Methodist bishop and priestesses from the Presbyterian Churches USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, American Baptist Churches USA, Reformed Church in America, Unity Church, Episcopal Church, and United Methodist Church signing the document.
A fundamental point of disagreement between Heartbeat Bill supporters and opponents is on the reasons for the legislation. Opponents of the Heartbeat Bill, including signers of the Des Moines Register op-ed, claim that its framers have "arguments based only in religious beliefs," meaning the sanctity of innocent human life.
Supporters say the Heartbeat Bill rests on science, specifically the biologically verifiable heartbeat and accompanying organ development in the human being. A preborn baby's heart begins beating at 18-21 days from conception, according to standard medical documentation. One University of Oxford study found the baby's heart beating at 16 days.
The letter from faith leaders characterizes the Heartbeat Bill as "immoral," and an "attack" on "the constitutional right(s) of women." They conclude that the Heartbeat Bill "is unconstitutional and it is wrong."
The letter further refuses to go into the issue of when life begins, which is the crux of the Heartbeat Bill supporters' scientific argument. "There is a broad spectrum of beliefs within the faith community regarding the beginning of life," the letter states, relegating this core issue to the exclusive realm of religion and excluding it from law. "We do not wish to debate that issue because, quite simply, our personal religious beliefs are not relevant to the legal debate."
The letter concludes, "Another person’s theological understanding of when life begins cannot trump the rights of women."
Besides mainline Protestant clergy, other signers include leaders of Reformed Judaism, Unitarian Universalism, and Universal Life Church (Humanist) congregations. The Universal Life Church explains on its website that it "strive(s) to teach their ordained ministers about all the different faiths, including Buddhism."
Earlier this month the Iowa Senate passed the "Heartbeat Bill." Republican Senator Jason Schultz, who served on the subcommittee which produced the legislation, noted, “Stopping a beating heart is never health care.”
List of signers:
Connie Ryan, executive director, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa
Laurie Haller, Resident Bishop, Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church
Rev. Brigit F. Stevens, Executive Conference Minister Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota Conferences of the UCC
Rev. Mary Newbern-Williams, Executive Presbyter, Presbytery of Missouri River Valley
Rev. Dr. Richard Guentert, Former Regional Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Upper Midwest Region
The Rev. Wendy K Abrahamson, Episcopal Church, Grinnell
Rev. Marsha Acord, United Methodist, Mount Vernon
Rev. Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz, United Methodist, Des Moines
Rev. Laura Arnold, United the Church of Christ, Decorah
Dr. Beverlee Bell, United Methodist, Urbandale
Rev. Alice Bolen, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Runnells
Rev. Rev. Kenneth E. Briggs Jr., United Church of Christ, Clive
Rev. Jennifer Brooks, Unitarian Universalism, Des Moines
Rev. Candice K. Brown, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Des Moines
The Rev Elaine Caldbeck, Episcopal, Bettendorf
Rev. Brian Carter, United Methodist Church, Windsor Heights
Rev. John Chaplin, United Church of Christ, Des Moines
Rev. Dick Clark, United Methodist, Urbandale
Rev. Elizabeth Colton, United Church of Christ, Oskaloosa
The Rev. Elizabeth Coulter, Episcopal, Coralville
The Rev. Judith Crossett, Episcopal, Iowa City
Rev. Dr. Dennis Dickman, Lutheran, Waverly
The Rev. Maureen Doherty, Episcopal, Cedar Falls
Rev. Emily E. Ewing, ELCA, Urbandale, Iowa
The Rev. Eileen Gebbie, United Church of Christ, Ames
Rev. Erin Gingrich, Unitarian Universalism, Des Moines
Rev. Debbie Griffin, Christian Church Disciples of Christ, Des Moines
Rev. John B. Harper, Episcopal, Coralville
Rev. Deb Hill-Davis, Unity Church, Ames
Rev Carlos Jayne, United Methodist, West Des Moines
Rev. Jonna Jensen, United Church of Christ, Baldwin
Rev. Patricia Johnson, Episcopal, Sioux City
Rev. Paul A. Johnson, United Church of Christ, Des Moines
Rabbi Henry Jay Karp, Reform Judaism, Davenport
Rabbi David Kaufman, Reform Judaism, Des Moines
The Rev. Daniel G. Kuckuck, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Urbandale
Rev. Carmen Lampe Zeitler, American Baptist, Des Moines
The Rev. Dr. Randall R. Lyle, Episcopal, Cedar Rapids
Rev. Matt Mardis-LeCroy, United Church of Christ, Des Moines
Rev. Sophie Mathonnet-VanderWell, Reformed Church in America, Pella
The Reverend Jean McCarthy, Episcopal, Des Moines
Rev. Russell Melby, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Ames
Rev. Jill Cameron Michel, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), North Liberty
The Rev. Rachel Thorson Mithelman, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Des Moines
Rev. Vernon Naffier, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Des Moines
Rev. Liane Nichols, Episcopal, Cedar Falls
Rev. Patricia Adams Oberbillig, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Des Moines
Pastor Beth A. Olson, Lutheran, Waverly
The Rev. Eric Pasanchin, Presbyterian Church (USA), Ankeny
The Rev. Ruth Ratliff, Episcopal, Cedar Falls
The Rev. Julia Rendon, Crossroads United Church of Christ, Indianola
The Rev. Martha Rogers, Episcopal, Marion
Rev. Dr. David Ruhe, United Church of Christ, Des Moines
Rev. Hannah Ryan, United Church of Christ, Burlington
Rev. William James Sanford Ryan, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Burlington
Rev. Michele Scott, United Church of Christ, Cedar Rapids
Rev. David Sickelka, United Church of Christ, Urbandale
Rev. Diana J. Sickles, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Des Moines
Rev. Larry W. Sonner, United Methodist, Urbandale
Rev. Jane Stewart, Episcopal, Coralville
Rev. Suzanne Hall Stout, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Des Moines
The Rev. Gayle V. Strickler, Jr., United Church of Christ, Grinnell
Rev. Joseph Stutler, ULC Humanist, Marion
Rev. Carol Sundberg, United Methodist, Cedar Rapids
Rev. Cheryl R. Thomas, American Baptist, Des Moines
Rev. P. Alex Thornburg, Presbyterian Church (USA), Clive
The Rev. Canon Marlin Whitmer, Episcopal, DeWitt
Rev. Nathan Willard, United Church of Christ, Ankeny