The Interfaith Coalition asks Trump Administration to lift ban on the use of fetal tissue in NIH funded COVID19 research.
Dear President Trump, Secretary Azar, and Director Collins:
As people of faith, we write to add our wholehearted support to the fifteen State Attorneys General who wrote to you “out of concern [over] the current Fetal Tissue Ban that took effect in June 2019.” We concur that this ban is “hampering our Nation’s ability to address COVID-19” as scientists at the National Institutes of Health work on potential therapies. We implore you to grant the request of the Attorneys General to end the Fetal Tissue Ban set forth in the attached letter.
Though we come from different religious communities and faith traditions, we share a common sacred call to bring healing to the world and to alleviate human pain and suffering. The proposed research, which would use fetal tissue, could help accelerate vaccine development to combat COVID-19 and thus save untold lives and prevent needless suffering, both in the United States and around the world.
We affirm that the use of fetal issue is moral when procurement of that tissue is regulated properly, so as to assure that the decision to donate fetal tissue is made without coercion. Since 1993, this procurement has been regulated by Congress. Individuals who make informed decisions to donate fetal tissue for research do so with the understanding and expectation that it be used respectfully and for the common good of all.
We, the undersigned organizations and congregations, urge you to lift the Fetal Tissue Ban immediately to ensure that scientists have all available resources to bring an end to this global health crisis.
By Laura Cassels - January 29, 2020
Rev. Jennifer Kopacz, of Grace Lutheran Church in Tallahassee, speaks during an interfaith press conference in support of reproductive rights. At her left, in pink, is Kate Lannamann, president of the interfaith coalition, and, wearing a green stole, Rev. David Judd of St. Mark's Presbyterian Church in Altamonte Springs. Credit: Laura Caselss
Minerva Velez-Glidden, a retired nurse, listens to Rev. Jennifer Kopacz and
awaits her turn at the mic. Velez-Glidden said she treated many women
sickened by botched abortions in the decades when abortion was illegal.
During her career, Velez-Glidden and her colleagues treated hundreds of women sickened by unsafe abortions, but kept quiet about them. Abortion was illegal in most states until the mid-1960s, and the sick women they were treating were, by definition, criminals.
“Unless we were going after a particularly dangerous abortionist, we didn’t report them,” Velez-Glidden said. “We knew these were desperate women.”
She recounted her story during an interview with the Florida Phoenix following a press conference in the Florida Capitol. The event was organized by a coalition representing more than 70 faith communities in Florida that support reproductive rights and oppose SB 404, legislation that would require a minor to secure parental consent before she could have an abortion. Florida law already requires parental notification.
Republicans are fast-tracking the bill through the 2020 legislative session over opposition from Democrats and women’s groups.
“No one of any age should be forced to bear a child against their will,” said Kate Lannamann, president of the Florida Interfaith Coalition for Reproductive Health and Justice, opening the press conference that included speakers for Catholics for Choice and the National Organization for Women.
Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican and sponsor of SB 404, argues that parental notification for a minor seeking an abortion is not enough.
“I believe that having that parent consent requires a little bit more of a conversation between that parent and the child in trying to determine the best course of action for that child,” Stargel said on Jan. 15, when her bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary
On Jan. 22, the bill passed in the Senate Rules Committee on a 9-7 partisan vote and will next be heard by the full Senate, with the initial debate scheduled for Wednesday. It has the support of Senate President Bill Galvano, a Republican representing Manatee and Hillsborough counties.
Rev. David F. Judd, pastor of St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Altamonte Springs, said people of faith do not speak with one voice on abortion, although conservative evangelicals who oppose abortion may seem to dominate public debate. He contended that the majority of American faith communities view reproductive rights within the lenses of religious liberty and freedom from religious oppression.
Judd said SB 404 and other bills to restrict abortion rights are inherently sexist and are designed to prompt court challenges that abortion foes hope will lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in 1973 declaring that the U.S. Constitution protects women’s right to abortion. It made abortion legal throughout the nation.
Judd challenged conservatives of faith to focus more of their efforts on justice for vulnerable people, particularly forced separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, hostility toward immigrants in America, and religious obligations to tend to the poor.
“What values do evangelicals aspire to?” he asked, and paraphrased an expression he said he’d recently heard: If you’re not speaking for justice today, you have mouths full of privilege.
Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat who helped arrange the press conference, argued government should not dictate in private matters of conscience but should promote the health and well-being of families by supporting access to health care and child care.
On its website, the Interfaith Coalition describes itself as “a grassroots group of clergy, faith leaders and lay people committed to supporting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice for all Florida residents. Together, we affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all persons and the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty. We believe that each person deserves the freedom to make reproductive health-care decisions in accordance with their own conscience and faith beliefs, without shame or stigma.”
Catholics for Choice, which helped organize the news conference, states on its website that it represents “a Catholic tradition [that] supports a woman’s moral and legal right to follow her conscience in matters of reproductive health” and which promotes thoughtful planning of when to start families.
As for Velez-Glidden, now retired, she described herself as “a woman of deep faith” who wants abortion to remain legal so that it will be safe, without barriers to a woman’s right to decide for herself.
“We won’t go back,” she said.
I support full reproductive rights for women because of my faith, not despite it | Opinion Kate Lannaman, Your TurnPublished 7:00 a.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020
From mainline Christian denominations to Jewish and other faith traditions, there is a deep recognition of the need to trust women and families to make personal decisions about their reproductive lives. There is widespread support among many Floridians for abortion care to remain safe, legal and accessible.
The Florida Interfaith Coalition for Reproductive Choices and its supporters, including Catholics for Choice, advocate for full reproductive health care options because of our faith beliefs, not in spite of them.
We acknowledge the moral complexities involved with pregnancy and respond with compassion and care — not judgment, shame or stigma — to support those making these deeply personal decisions.
I was privileged recently to have participated in a blessing of the new Planned Parenthood health center in Fort Myers. Clergy representing Christian, Unitarian Universalist, United Church of Christ and Jewish faiths blessed the beautiful new facility; the patients and their families who will pass through its doors; and the dedicated and courageous physicians, clinicians and staff who will deliver compassionate, supportive and respectful care to those patients.
These faith traditions respect the moral authority of each person to act according to their own conscience and faith beliefs when deciding whether and when to bear a child. And none of these faith traditions believe their theologies should be privileged over the beliefs of any other religion.
We believe in freedom of religion and freedom from religion. The Florida Interfaith Coalition proclaims that access to affordable reproductive health care service is a social and moral good for everyone.
We strongly oppose SB 404, which would require parental consent for a minor to have an abortion. While we all hope that teens have a good relationship with their parent or guardian, no legislation can create that kind of relationship.
We know most young pregnant teens do disclose their pregnancies to their parents, but those who don’t usually have good reasons. and will suffer negative consequences — from punishment to abuse to being forced to leave the home.
Just as no girl should be forced to have an abortion against her will, no girl should be forced to bear a child against her will. These teens need care and compassion, not this cruel bill.
Kate Lannamann is a retired corporate attorney long active in the reproductive health, rights and justice arena. She is the chair of the Florida Interfaith Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and lives in Sarasota.
Faith leaders rallied with Democratic lawmakers this week against the Legislature’s parental consent bills.
The Florida Interfaith Coalition for Reproductive Health and Justice held a news conference Tuesday and joined House Democrats for breakfast Wednesday. The pro-abortion group, led by board chair Kate Lannamann, came to Tallahassee to oppose HB 265 and SB 404.
“We are here to let our legislators know that people of faith absolutely support access to full reproductive health care services, including abortion care,” Lannamann said. “We need safe, legal abortion for everybody.”
The Florida Interfaith Coalition for Reproductive Health & Justice held a prayer breakfast at The Capitol this week to oppose the parental notification bill.
Democratic Reps. Jennifer Webb and Dotie Joseph joined the coalition for breakfast in the House Minority office.
“I think it’s important that we remember that it’s not about the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law. And that paramount, among all tenets that we have to defend, is love,” Joseph said.
Rep. Anna Eskamani, a founding member of the group, kicked off the Tuesday news conference held on The Capitol’s 4th floor.
“Unfortunately, there tends to be rhetoric, mostly elevated by our opposition, that making personal medical decisions — talking about birth control, contraception, making the decision to end the pregnancy — is one not done with consult of a faith leader or with reflection of one’s God. And that’s just not the case,” she said.
But the Orlando Democrat drew the ire of fellow Democratic Rep. Kim Daniels, who broke from the caucus to co-sponsor HB 265. Later Wednesday, she called the criticism she’s received from pro-abortion and pro-LGBTQ groups “literal religious discrimination.”
“There are some in my caucus who have no respect for me as a representative for my district … no respect for my values as a believer. They want to make me vote with them, and that ain’t happening,” Daniels said.
State lawmaker says he’ll file “fetal heartbeat” bill that would essentially ban nearly all abortions in Florida
by John Lucas | May 24, 2019 The Capitolist
The legal fight to ban nearly all abortions could take center-stage in Florida during next year’s legislative session. A state lawmaker from Pensacola says he’ll introduce a bill during the 2020 session similar to a controversial piece of legislation enacted by the Alabama state legislature earlier this month.
As reported by the Pensacola News Journal, Rep. Mike Hill told a Pensacola group Thursday that God told him to sponsor the legislation.
Hill filed a bill during this past session that would have banned abortions in Florida if a fetal heartbeat was detected. Despite having picked up 20 cosponsors, his proposal never received a committee hearing.
Speaking at a meeting of Women for Responsible Legislation at Pensacola City Hall, Hill said the fetal heartbeat bill was modeled on other states that had passed similar bills and included exceptions for rape, incest, domestic violence, human trafficking or if the woman’s life is in danger.
He said God spoke to him during an anti-abortion rally held a few weeks ago in Pensacola.
“As plain as day, God spoke to me,” Hill said. “He said that wasn’t my bill, talking about the heartbeat detection bill that I filed. He said that wasn’t my bill. I knew immediately what he was talking about. He said, you remove those exceptions and you file it again. And I said yes Lord, I will. It’s coming back. It’s coming back. We are going to file that bill without any exceptions just like what we saw passed in Alabama.”
Kate Lannamann with the Florida Interfaith Coalition takes exception with Hill’s views on abortion. The coalition consists of clergy, faith leaders and lay people throughout Florida from various religions and church denominations who believe women have the moral right to make reproductive decisions about their bodies.
“While the multiple faiths and denominations of the Florida Interfaith Coalition do not hold the same theological views, we are in agreement that all women must be able to make reproductive decisions in keeping with their faith and their conscience without government interference or coercion,” Lannamann said. “We believe in the moral authority of each woman to know what is best for her and her family. Accordingly, abortion must remain legal and accessible in accordance with existing laws.
The issue drew national attention when the Alabama Legislature passed a similar law earlier this month that provides the only exception to the ban is when a woman’s health is threatened. Abortion-rights groups believe the ban goes too far, as do some anti-abortion advocates.
Alabama’s law is expected to be challenged in the courts.