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Recognizing The 40th Anniversary Of The Clergy Consultation Service On Abortion

Floor Speech

Date: May 17, 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Women Abortion


RECOGNIZING THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CLERGY CONSULTATION SERVICE ON ABORTION -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 17, 2007)

* Ms. SLAUGHTER. Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize the 40th anniversary of the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion on May 21st, 2007, and the many fine clergy women and men of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice who continue this tradition of service. At the time the Clergy Service was founded, hundreds, if not thousands, of women died each year because of unsafe, illegal abortions. Many of the women suffering the health hazards of an illegal abortion were the most vulnerable, including women of color and low-income women.

* The heroic clergy who came together to form the Clergy Consultation Service felt a moral responsibility to help women in need. The Clergy Service provided comfort, hope, and access to doctors who performed safe abortions and treated women with dignity and respect. Participating ministers and rabbis risked public censure and criminal prosecution to provide compassionate counseling and spiritual support to women with an unintended pregnancy. Today, the tradition of support for women has continued through the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and the Clergy for Choice Network.

* Over one million American women sought illegal abortions annually at the time the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion was established. In 1965 alone, 17 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths were due to illegal abortions. The largest percentage of abortion deaths was among women ages 35-39 with five or six children.

* In my home State of New York in 1967, the only legal reason for performing an abortion was to save the life of the woman. Senior minister of the Judson Memorial Church in New York City, Reverend Howard R. Moody, along with social justice activist Arlene Carmen, recognized that women needed reliable information on how and where to obtain safe, albeit illegal, abortions. With a small group of ministers and rabbis, Reverend Moody founded the Clergy Service. The New York Times ran the statement announcing the service.

``Confronted with a difficult decision and means of implementing it, women today are forced by ignorance, misinformation and desperation into courses of action that require humane concern on the part of religious leaders.''

``We believe that it is our pastoral responsibility and religious duty to give aid and assistance to all women with problem pregnancies. To that end we are establishing a Clergymen's Consultation Service on Abertion which will include referral to the best available medical advice and aid to women in need.''


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