Faith groups converge on abortion reduction bill


Religion News Service
The bill, crafted by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, an abortion-rights supporter from Connecticut and abortion opponent Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, includes methods -- namely, contraception -- that some anti-abortion groups traditionally have rallied against.

Conservative evangelical and Catholic groups joined abortion-rights organizations to support the bill, after it was expanded to include health care for pregnant women and new mothers, sexual education programs, a nationwide adoption campaign, as well as federally funded contraception.

"Religious, secular -- it doesn't make any difference," DeLauro said. "There was a sense that we had to move forward. For too long we've allowed principles to divide us on this contentious issue."

The 86-page bill -- the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion, and Supporting Pregnant Women Act -- took four years to piece together. Conservative groups initially found it difficult to reconcile pregnancy-prevention programs and medical support for women with grants that will expand sexual education to include awareness about abortion and contraception.

Religious charities gain in a down year

Religious organizations reported a 5.5-percent increase in donations last year, a marked contrast from the nationwide 2-percent decline in charitable giving, according to a study by Giving USA Foundation.

Religious congregations, which accounted for 35 percent of the total $307 billion in charitable contributions, exceeded $100 billion in donations for the second year in a row.

Religious freedom panel meets with Clinton

WASHINGTON -- Members of a religious freedom watchdog panel met June 8 with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who noted their concerns without promising specific actions, one of the panel's members said.

Nina Shea, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), said Clinton was agreeable and took notes on their 40-minute discussion, but did not commit to take public action on the panel's proposed agenda.

Shea said the commissioners of the bipartisan panel insisted in the meeting that the administration oppose a proposed United Nations resolution that would ban the defamation of religion. Pakistan and other Middle Eastern nations support the ban, which would bar public criticism of religions.

They also urged the administration to secure the release of all Arabic-language textbooks used at a Saudi-funded private school in Northern Virginia that critics say teaches a militant form of Islam. Moreover, commissioners asked the administration to support the rights of Egyptian Muslims who convert to Christianity in Egypt; and, to designate Vietnam as a "country of particular concern" for its religious freedom record.

With abortionist dead, do conservatives share blame?

With the murder May 31 of Dr. George Tiller, one of the nation's few late-term abortion doctors, supporters of abortion rights are questioning whether there is a connection between his death and the rhetoric of the anti-abortion movement.

More to the point, would Tiller have been a victim if anti-abortion groups had not made him so prominent?