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Planned Parenthood\’s Pastoral Letter

May 29, AD2014 11 Comments


Planned Parenthood’s “Clergy Advocacy Board” recently issued a “pastoral letter,” telling women that God is okay with abortion.

Oddly, I haven’t heard about any backlash from the Freedom From Religion Foundation or Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Given that Planned Parenthood receives federal tax dollars, isn’t it wildly inappropriate of Planned Parenthood to involve religion in their business at all (according to the aforementioned groups)? Why aren’t they making a huge fuss over this? Seems right up their alley.

The members of the Clergy Advocacy Board are as follows:

Chairperson Rabbi Jon Adland (Reform Jewish); Vice Chair Rev. Susan Russell (Episcopal); Rev. David Ames (Episcopal); Rev. Tom Davis (United Church of Christ); Rev. Dr. Gawain de Leeuw (Episcopal); Rev. Kevin Jones (Baptist); Rev. Dr. Daniel Kanter (Unitarian); Rev. Vincent Lachina (American Baptist); Rev. Jeremy Lopez, United Church of Christ; Rev. Janet Maykus (Christian Church DOC); Rev. Mark Pawlowski (Presbyterian); Rabbi Dennis Ross (Reform Jewish); Dr. Scott Sattler (Universal Sufism); Rabbi Peter Stein (Reform Jewish); and Ani Zonneveld (Muslims for Progressive Values).

Moral Relativism In Action

I’m rather surprised there isn’t an Evangelical Lutheran Church of America pastor on that list, given that denomination’s support of abortion. (Thank God there aren’t any dissenting Catholic clergy or religious on that list as well – I was actually pleased that no LWCR nuns were listed.) Regardless, it’s disturbing that any clergy believes that abortion is condoned by God as a neutral action.

Their letter is a perfect example of moral relativism in action.

The decision to have an abortion is personal. Though your reasons may be complicated and private, you’re not alone. As religious leaders from a number of religious traditions, we’re here to support you in your decision.

Remember, it’s “the decision to have an abortion” that they support, not “looking at all your options and see which decision is right for you.” They’re not even trying to hide the fact anymore that they are outright advocating for abortion, not seeing it as one option among many (as was previously their modus operandi for many years).

Many people wrongly assume that all religious leaders disapprove of abortion. The truth is that abortion is not even mentioned in the Scriptures – Jewish or Christian – and there are clergy and people of faith from all denominations who support women making this complex decision.

This is an incorrect statement (I guess the clergy above don’t understand that whole “do not bear false witness” part of the Bible, either). Father Frank Pavone at Priests for Life has an excellent analysis of the Bible’s teaching against abortion, and I’ve refuted the claim that the Bible actually condones abortion in a previous article for Catholic Stand. (I wish the abortion activists would get it straight – does the Bible condone abortion or does it not mention it at all? Seems they disagree on that point.)

The beliefs of each person are deserving of respect, and each person deserves care and compassion. No one should be allowed to force their faith teachings on anyone else. We believe this decision is yours, made with your doctor and anyone else you choose to bring into the conversation, such as a spouse, partner, parent, or clergy person.

First, what if my faith teachings said that marital rape was okay? Or child marriage? Or polygamous marriage? Are those beliefs really “deserving of respect,” and does the Planned Parenthood Clergy Advisory Board practice what they preach in regard to respecting those beliefs?

Second, why are all the people who say that homosexual acts should be accepted and celebrated able to force their faith teachings on people who believe otherwise? Somehow I don’t think the clergy listed above are too respectful of the beliefs of those who advocate for traditional marriage.

Thirdly, the Obama administration, via the HHS mandate, is attempting to force their “faith teachings” (i.e., that recreational contraception and abortion are “health care”) on everyone else and are even trying to force us to pay for them. I’m guessing they are okay with that as well, given their affiliation with Planned Parenthood, but it seems like a double standard.

Somewhat Different Opinions

Of course, they altogether neglect to mention the fact that abortion is a human rights issue, not solely a religious issue, and that there are many non-religious people who oppose abortion on those grounds. See, for example, the excellent website Secular Pro-Life.

Our religious traditions have somewhat different opinions about abortion, but we share some basic understandings:

“Somewhat different opinions” – that’s code for “we know we’re violating God’s law, but we want to be popular and not truthful.”

No one knows the circumstances of your life as well as you know them; no one knows what’s in your heart better than you. Allow yourself to be at peace with your decision.

Apparently these clergy are unfamiliar with the Biblical, moral principle that we may never do evil so that good may result (Romans 3:8). No amount of circumstances or good intentions justifies an objectively evil act (such as the deliberate killing of an innocent human being). Someone’s circumstances and intentions may impact a person’s culpability, but it doesn’t change the intrinsic evil of the act itself.

God loves you and is with you no matter what you decide. You can find strength, understanding, and comfort in that love.

Absolutely! However, they neglect to mention that having God’s unconditional love is not at all the same as having God’s unconditional approval. God loves all sinners, including (for example) people who commit adultery, but that doesn’t mean He approves of their actions.

 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 you and your decision. Your privacy will be protected and all conversations will be completely confidential.

If you’d like to speak with a clergyperson who will affirm you in your sin while possibly endangering your immortal soul and setting you up for a lifetime of regret, contact Planned Parenthood.

Our hope for you is for peace in your heart.

Their hope for you that you’ll increase Planned Parenthood’s bottom line. I wonder what kind of donations their individual churches get from Planned Parenthood, with its $58.2 million in profits?

I also wonder what they say to the woman who comes to them in tears, professing deep regret and heartsickness over her abortion? What about the woman in a crisis pregnancy who desperately wants to keep her baby but can’t figure out how to make it work? Where is the message for them? Funny how their “pastoral statement” isn’t at all pastoral when it comes to women who want to keep their babies. Thank God we have the Catholic Church to help those women (as well as the women and men who regret their abortions or participation in same).

© 2014. JoAnna Wahlund. All rights reserved.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

JoAnna was baptized, raised, and married in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America but converted to Catholicism in May 2003, on G.K. Chesterton's birthday. She has six terrific kids here on earth, four saints in heaven praying for her, and a wonderful husband who supports her in all things. She enjoys defending the Catholic faith online (in between her duties as chief cook and bottle washer for La Casa Wahlund, and her role as Senior Editor of Catholic Stand). She blogs at and more sporadically at

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