WASHINGTON (ABP) — Twenty-five evangelical and Catholic leaders wrote members of Congress March 11 urging them not to let a dispute over abortion derail passage of health-care reform.
Some pro-life Democrats have said they will vote against President Obama's proposed overhaul of health care unless language restricting the use of federal dollars for abortion is strengthened.
The religious readers, however, said they believe the legislation not only maintains long-standing restrictions on federal funding of abortion, but also provides new support for vulnerable pregnant women that could actually reduce the number of abortions.
"As Christians committed to a consistent ethic of life and deeply concerned with the health and well-being of all people, we want to see health-care reform enacted," the leaders said.
Citing a "lack of clear and accurate information" about the bill, the leaders laid out a page-by-page listing of provisions related to abortion and supports for pregnant women in HR 3590.
"We are now at a critical moment in the history of our country," the letter concluded. "More than 30 million Americans may finally gain access to a health care system that is affordable — providing families, children and seniors with fundamental care that is essential to human dignity. We respectfully ask that you make an informed decision about this legislation based on careful deliberation guided by facts."
Signers included high-profile evangelical leaders including Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action; Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners; Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland Church in Longwood, Fla.; and Brian McLaren, author, speaker and founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, Md.
Baptist signers included David Gushee, chairman of the New Evangelical Partnership for Common Good and Associated Baptist Press columnist, and Glen Stassen, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary formerly at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.