February 07, 2012The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, UCC general minister and president, is among 21 major mainstream religious leaders releasing a statement today (Feb. 8) in support of the Jan. 20 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.
Written by Daniel Hazard
Written by Daniel Hazard
"I am very pleased that Rev. Geoffrey Black has joined other faith leaders in the United States in support of the [Obama] Administration's decision," said the Rev. Loey Powell, UCC executive for administration and women's justice. "The UCC has long supported equal access to contraception and affirms that its use should remain a personal and private decision."
"If religiously-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and schools who employ people who do not share the theological views of the institution are going to decide what is acceptable health care for all their employees, where will it stop?" said Powell. "Will preventing organ transplants or blood transfusions be next?"
Others signing on to the statement were:
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; and Unitarian Universalist Association.
The groups 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."