Time to Talk to Rev. Wallis on Reducing Unintended Pregnancy

Debra Haffner

Rev. Wallis, I will do everything I can to work with you on assuring adoption services and high quality prenatal care and parenting support -- when will we see you working to ensure women can prevent pregnancies in the first place?

Rev. Jim Wallis, the Director of Sojourners, and I have had several public
and private discussions about abortion in the U.S. He believes and
writes that the dialog about abortion has to change, and that both
pro-choice and anti-choice persons need to agree to work to reduce the
number of abortions in the U.S. He said so again in this week’s Newsweek online.

My point, also repeated in each of these dialogs, is that we need to agree to reduce the numbers of unplanned pregnancies
in the U.S. It is precisely because life is sacred and parenthood is
precious that no woman, no couple, no family should be forced to deal
with a potential life that is begun carelessly. Jim and I agree that
abortion is a moral decision; what we don’t agree on is that it is
always a tragedy. I also cannot support abortion reduction as a goal in
itself as long as there are active forces trying to make the procedure
illegal or enact restrictions that make it almost impossible to get.

Here’s what Rev. Wallis said on belief.net last week:

On
abortion. I have repeatedly said that I believe abortion is wrong and
always a moral tragedy. The number of unborn lives that are lost every
year is alarming. But I also do not believe that the best way to change
that is to criminalize abortions and just force them underground. The
question is how can we actually prevent unwanted pregnancies, protect
unborn lives, support low-income women, offer compassionate
alternatives to abortion, make adoption much more accessible and
affordable, carefully fashion reasonable restrictions, and thus
dramatically reduce the shamefully high abortion rate in America? You
say you want to respect the will of the people. Well, every opinion
poll shows the same thing – substantial majorities think that there are
too many abortions and that we should pursue measures to reduce and
restrict the number, but they do not support overturning Roe v. Wade.

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What
Rev. Wallis isn’t telling you is that the abortion rate is at its
lowest since 1974, a year after Roe v. Wade. Abortions are coming down
in the U.S. The abortion rate is down 100,000 since 2000, according to
the Guttmacher Institute.

What Rev. Wallis isn’t telling you is that a majority of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and that 62% of mainline Christians and 84% of Jews believe that.

What Rev. Wallis isn’t telling you is that according to the Guttmacher Institute, placing restrictions, whatever "reasonable restrictions" might be, doesn’t make abortions rarer, it makes them less safe.

And
despite my reading his paragraph over and over again, it appears that
what Rev. Wallis isn’t calling for is hope for young women for
productive futures through quality education and job opportunities (as
was missing in last week’s stories on the supposed pregnancy pact),
sexuality education, and high quality family planning services. Rev.
Wallis, as a pro-choice feminist and minister, I will do everything I
can to work with you on assuring adoption services and high quality
prenatal care and parenting support — when will we see you working to
assure women AND men have access to the means to prevent pregnancies in
the first place?

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