August 13, 2008
WASHINGTON (RNS) - Progressive evangelical and Catholic leaders voiced their support for the Democratic Party's platform on abortion, citing new provisions that emphasize measures intended to reduce the number of abortions in the U.S. such as women's health care, adoption services and income support programs.
In a conference call sponsored by his progressive evangelical group Sojourners, the Rev. Jim Wallis called the platform a "historic step forward" in reconciling the party's support of abortion rights with the concerns of Christians who oppose the practice.
"We're moving from symbolism to substance here, (offering) practical solutions toward in fact making abortion more rare," Wallis said Tuesday (Aug. 12).
Wallis was joined by five other evangelical and Catholic voices, including Orlando megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, a registered Republican who has advocated expanding conservatism beyond traditional "values" issues.
A draft of the 51-page platform was approved Saturday in Pittsburgh.
It will be voted on at the convention in Denver, Aug. 25-28.
While the platform again affirms a woman's right to choose, it differs from previous years by offering more tangible support for addressing the issue of abortion. The platform calls for programs to "reduce the number of unintended pregnancies" and stresses the need for income support and adoption programs.
The 2004 platform stated that "Abortion should be safe, legal and rare," and supported family planning and adoption incentives. It did not, however, provide specific language on how to reduce the number of abortions.
"They've broken through the narrow traditional barrier that only focused on a woman's right to choose on abortion, and now support in writing and in legislation a woman's right to choose life," Hunter said.
The Rev. Carlton W. Veazey, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Life, said in a statement that "the draft platform shows a growing understanding that reproductive choice and rights include not only abortion but also the right to have the resources to care for children."
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