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The Scoop

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Major mainstream religious leaders support birth control policy

Statement issued Wednesday:

Today, twenty major mainstream religious leaders released a statement supporting the January 20, 2012 announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services that contraceptive services must be covered by most insurance policies without deductibles or co-pays, and that only purely sectarian organizations are exempt from this requirement.

Catholics for Choice; the Central Conference of American Rabbis; Concerned Clergy for Choice; Disciples Justice Action Network; Episcopal Divinity School; Episcopal Women’s Caucus; Hadassah; the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation; Jewish Women International; Methodist Federation for Social Action; Muslims for Progressive Values; the National Council of Jewish Women; Planned Parenthood Clergy Advisory Board; the Rabbinical Assembly; the Religious Coalition to Reproductive Choice; the Religious Institute; Society for Humanistic Judaism; The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; Union Theological Seminary; Unitarian Universalist Association; and United Church of Christ represent millions of religious leaders and people of faith across the country.

Together, the leaders of these Christian, Jewish and Muslim national organizations affirmed:

“We stand with President Obama and Secretary Sebelius in their decision to reaffirm the importance of contraceptive services as essential preventive care for women under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and to assure access under the law to American women, regardless of religious affiliation. We respect individuals’ moral agency to make decisions about their sexuality and reproductive health without governmental interference or legal restrictions.

We do not believe that specific religious doctrine belongs in health care reform – as we value our nation’s commitment to church-state separation. We believe that women and men have the right to decide whether or not to apply the principles of their faith to family planning decisions, and to do so they must have access to services.

The Administration was correct in requiring institutions that do not have purely sectarian goals to offer comprehensive preventive health care. Our leaders have the responsibility to safeguard individual religious liberty and to help improve the health of women, their children, and families. Hospitals and universities across the religious spectrum have an obligation to assure that individuals’ conscience and decisions are respected and that their students and employees have access to this basic health care service. We invite other religious leaders to speak out with us for universal coverage of contraception.”

Signed,

Catholics for Choice, Jon O'Brien, President

Central Conference of American Rabbis, Rabbi Jonathan Stein, President

Concerned Clergy for Choice, Rabbi Dennis Ross, Director

Disciples Justice Action Network, Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker Langston, Director

Episcopal Divinity School, The Very Reverend Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, President

Episcopal Women's Caucus, Rev. Dr Elizabeth Kaeton, Convener

Hadassah, Marcie Natan, National President

Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, Robert Barkin, Interim Executive Vice President

Jewish Women International, Lori Weinstein, Executive Director

Methodist Federation for Social Action, Jill Warren, Executive Director

Muslims for Progressive Values, Ani Zonniveld, President

National Council of Jewish Women, Nancy Kaufman, CEO

Planned Parenthood Clergy Advisory Board, Rev. Jane Emma Newall, Chair

Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President

Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Rev. Steve Clapp, Chair

Religious Institute, Rev. Dr. Debra W. Haffner, Executive Director

Society for Humanistic Judaism, M. Bonnie Cousens, Executive Director

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO

Union Theological Seminary, Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President

Unitarian Universalist Association, Rev. Peter Morales, President

United Church of Christ, Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President

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