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PA Clergy tell Legislators They Must Count the Cost


Rev Dr Beverly Dale on behalf of PA Clergy for Choice

“We’ve Had Enough” Rally September 27, 2011

I stand here representing an interfaith coalition of over a hundred clergy, chaplains, rabbis and we have not been organized but 6 months. We live in and minister to communities throughout the State of Pennsylvania. I am here to say that the legislators have been incredibly shortsighted, gullible, and ultimately irresponsible in the passage of and amendments to Senate Bill 732.

It would appear that those who support these bills have failed to count the devastating cost- - the cost to women, the cost to women’s health clinics, and the cost to public health in Pennsylvania. Deliberately removing from the bill the requirement for a cost study shows just how incredibly shortsighted, gullible and irresponsible. As clergy we want to know what is the cost for the major renovation of facilities to comply with these excessive regulations on abortion providers? We want to know how long will these facilities be closed as changes are made? And, we want to know how many women will this negatively impact? We want to know and the women in the Commonwealth deserve to know that, as a direct result of this excessive regulation, how many facilities will fail to reopen because of the exorbitant price tag? We want to know what the price tag is for compliance that will, undoubtedly, be handed down to the women? And how many women will be able to afford to pay it if the costs double?  Counting the cost is a moral act that must precede passage of any bill.

 Abortion is a legal medical service and one, that as clergy, we fully support. It is immoral in our opinion to make this legal health care service so expensive that it is only available to the privileged few who can afford it.

Pricing legal abortion out of reach for the poor is a form of class warfare

 But in addition, the clergy want the legislators to tell us what the human cost is for women who no longer have access to this safe and legal medical procedure? How many funerals for desperate women will clergy be required to perform because women will resort to illegal and unsafe abortions? How many women will delay care as they struggle to find the money and thus jeopardize their lives? Did this legislature count the economic cost, the emotional drain, the family distress of more pregnancies than the woman or her family can sustain?  No, it did not!

 There has been and will be no cost analysis. And, that makes this an immoral, irresponsible legislative action.

 It is not just these bills that are shortsighted.  Legislators have also been, if not manipulative, then downright gullible. Using the hype of one  situation, legislators sought a “quick fix” and failed to see the duplicity of those who pushed this bill. As religious professionals we are rightly suspicious of those who misrepresent the purpose and the likely outcome of legislation.

 These bills have nothing to do with saving women’s lives or protecting women’s health. You can’t do that by closing down clinics that provide necessary medical services or by increasing the price of abortions out of range for most young women. Instead this legislation only makes things more dangerous. To think otherwise is incredibly naïve. And this naivete is dangerous for our communities! Before this legislation progresses… our government owes it to all Pennsylvanians to count the cost of being so naïve.

But for politicians to pretend to understand and then to interfere in a matter that is only the prerogative of a woman and her doctor is irresponsible meddling. Further, democratically elected officials who are to maintain the separation of church and state have no business following the dictates of one religious viewpoint. There are other religious perspectives that uphold abortion as a morally appropriate choice and sometimes a necessary moral choice.

We’ve had enough!  Pennsylvania deserves better than this. The women of the Commonwealth deserve better than this. It is time to count the cost. That is the only way to make morally righteous decisions that will protect all the citizens of this State.

Heather, 09-28-11 7:32am:
It was a privilege to stand with you yesterday. Blessings and gratitude.

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