Saturday, October 20, 2012

Concerns About New Evangelical Partnership Statement On Birth Control

The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good has issued a statement dealing with contraception and family planning at both a domestic and international level. The full statement in which I will be referencing is linked at the bottom of press release New Evangelical Partnership Releases "A Call to Christian Common Ground on Family Planning, and Maternal, and Children’s Health". It is also here.

The statement itself does not address a rather long Catholic and Protestant tradition on birth control that in many ways was in affect for 1900 years. Now being evangelicals I don't really expect them to engage  with Tradition .

However the rather scriptural case of the issues involved , which  evangelicals do engage,  is rather absent too despite all the scriptures front loaded talking about helping neighbors and justice to the poor.

So I will not engage those issues either.

They say on page 12 of their statement :
We commit to not allow partisan, political manipulations to deter us from taking determined action— either through our own ministry work or by the actions of our own government–to protect the lives of women and children that are lost to inadequate health care and family planning.

Also on page 12:
It is imperative that we seek common ground. We must give appropriate attention to family planning without entangling it in the often partisan, politically motivated abortion controversy.

Exactly how non partisan this statement is or how real this search for common ground is we shall see.

On page 4:

Here in the United States, lack of access to affordable health insurance results in an estimated four in ten poor women of reproductive age without family planning services. Although public funding by itself cannot
meet the total need, it can make a real difference in the lives of women and families. Researchers have estimated that publicly-funded family planning helped to prevent 973,000 unintended pregnancies .

One of the amazing big elephants in the room that this statement seems to avoid is the HHS contraception mandate. It really would seem in a plea to fellow evangelicals in search of "common ground" and "common good "  on birth control some talk of valid and perhaps real "non partisan" concerns would be acknowledged. The Southern Baptist Convention  is not opposed to birth control. But they did say this past summer at their convention:

RESOLVED, That we call on President Obama to instruct the Department of Health and Human Services to withdraw its insistence that health care plans provide contraceptives and abortion causing drugs and devices and instead exempt from this requirement all religious organizations and people of faith, whether in their pri- vate capacity or as employers, who declare a religious objection to such coverage; and be it further.

Now such an arrangement would have minimal impact on the overall numbers of people that would have access to birth control through the Affordable Care Act. However , in a common pattern we shall see in this statement, it is very much opposed by groups that this statement says Evangelicals   should not oppose funding too.

This is a small example of why many evangelicals that have no opposition to birth control are wary. It does not help that those that seek " common good " seem to ignore these things. In fact it leads to concerns how non partisan this statement is and whose back they actually got.

On page 5 of their statement:

Family planning is the freely and mutually chosen use of a variety of contraceptive methods to prevent or postpone pregnancy. It does not include interventions that take place after pregnancy is established;
in other words, we do not include abortion in our definition of family planning.

Family planning is undertaken by individuals and couples, but it can be encouraged and facilitated, or discouraged and rejected, by any person or entity that disapproves of family planning from a misguided concern that family planning is the equivalent of abortion. It is not.

 The association and the confusion of family planning with abortion has caused intense religious opposition by Christians and others with the result that opposition has extended not just to abortion, but to family planning as a whole. This conceptually confused opposition to family planning is an international phenomenon, and has hindered funding and support of desperately needed family planning services both in the United States and around the world.

This again ignores many issues. First some  forms of "contraception " are viewed as causing an abortion and thus illicit. See the Hobby Lobby lawsuit that has been recently filed. As Hobby Lobby states they have no objection to birth control but morning after "contraception". Again Planned Parenthood whom we shall learn we should object funding disagrees. Again it's hard to find "common ground" when we pretend these issues do not exist.

Cutting to the chase on page 11:

Our loving challenge to pro-life Christians: Please do not block family planning efforts, globally or domestically, because of your opposition to groups that provide both contraception and abortion. Instead, consider how a deeply pro-life moral commitment, focusing on the flourishing of all human beings made in God’s image, actually ought to lead to support for family planning as we have defined it in this document.

And there we go in the end. Not only to be Christian and Pro-life must we support groups with our taxes that support abortion at home we must export it to the world. What a charming bit of American exceptional ism on steroids we are unleashing on  other Christians abroad. It would have been nice if they got to that point right at the start. One really starts to wonder  what tail is wagging what dog here in this statement.

There is no search for the common good or common ground. There is no talk of supporting structures that could give family planning  and birth control without having to participate in abortions. Again how "non partisan" is this .

In the background of all this is Planned Parenthood who at times now seems to be some unofficial branch of Government that cannot be questioned. Evangelicals no doubt noted the corporate shake down/  extortion Planned Parenthood did with KOMEN this year.  Evangelicals that have no objection to family planning  but worry about other facets of Planned Parenthood activity have good cause. They most certainly have good cause to worry about subjecting foreign populations to such a force done in part by their tax dollars.

In the end I see very little search for common ground here. Just a urge to tell people to be quiet and not rock the boat.

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