Monday, June 02, 2014

How Planned Parenthood Respects Patients' Religious Beliefs

If Planned Parenthood's intention were truly to allow the abortion-minded woman who comes to them to make a decision about her pregnancy in accordance with her own beliefs, Planned Parenthood would present her with a pamphlet containing the official statements of various religions communities regarding abortion. This pamphlet would be provided to her at a time that allows her to make reflection in accordance with her own religious community. In states that have waiting periods, the pamphlet would be provided on her first visit. In states that do not have waiting periods, the pamphlet would be provided to the woman when she checks into the facility so that she can spend her time in the waiting room reading whatever portions she considers relevant, given her own faith tradition

Instead, they present patients with this "Pastoral Letter to Patients." The only reason to present this letter to a patient is because she is having religious qualms about abortion and is seeking appropriate guidance.

Image of the Planned Parenthood "pastoral letter" that lays out only a prochoice religious stand, denegrating a prolife religious stand, and offering patients a referral only to clergy who will "support" an abortion decision.
Click to enlarge.
The letter assures the patient that clergy are "here to support you in your decision." Note that the decision they are there to support is not the decision the woman makes after reflecting on her own beliefs and religious conviction, but only the decision to go through with an abortion in spite of her own qualms.

The letter goes on to specifically take a controversial stand that is often used to overcome religious objections -- that because the Scriptures do not specifically address abortion, it offers no reason to refrain from abortion. This is hardly the case, since many religious traditions have found Scripture to strongly stand against abortion. This statement by a Catholic organization is representative.

The letter goes on to say, "The beliefs of each person are worthy of respect," but the entire letter is based not on what the woman's own personal beliefs might be, but on the beliefs specifically of those who see no religious objection to abortion.

"No one should be allowed to force their faith teachings on anyone else," it goes on, all the while striving to force a prochoice faith teaching on the woman.

It closes with an assurance that "If you'd like to speak with a clergyperson, your local Planned Parenthood health center can refer you to someone who will be supportive of your decision." Note that it is only the decision to abort that this clergyperson will support. There is no offer of a referral to clergy of the woman's own religious tradition who can help her to reflect on her circumstances within the framework of her own faith, or who will provide support should she decide to continue a pregnancy during a difficult time.

Nobody has to rely on what prolifers say to see that Planned Parenthood encourages women to disregard their own moral qualms. We have their own words to say so.

UPDATE: Jill Stanek has noted that PP has removed the offensive letter from their web site. Whether or not they still give it to patients who are struggling to make a choice in concert with their own faith tradition remains to be seen.

Jill also noted:
PPFA’s inexplicably pro-abortion Clergy Advisory Board is comprised of 12 men and only three women, a lopsided 4:1 gender ratio that would draw ire if a board of pro-life pastors.
 And reader Mary left a particularly apt comment:
Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?

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