Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Planned Parenthood Campus Activists Talk Faith and Choice

By Shannon
South Dakota Community Organizer for Planned Parenthood

In case you weren’t aware, Planned Parenthood has college campus groups. They’re called VOX: Voices for Choice or Voices for Planned Parenthood.

Here in South Dakota we have 3 active chapters at USD, SDSU and Augustana College. We’re also in the process of getting one up and running West River which I am so very excited about.

I have the pleasure of working with these campus organizations and I’m very proud of what I witnessed last night.

Augustana’s VOX hosted a discussion with a panel of pastors from the group Pastors for Moral Choices. That group got started in 2005. It is an organization of religious leaders in South Dakota who are committed to God’s call to relate to all people with compassion and love.

The purpose of the event was to show that there is more than one religious perspective when it comes to abortion, choice and other reproductive health care issues.

The pastors from the group talked about life before Roe, about growing up “pro-life” and the transformation to “pro-choice,” and how life is not “one-size-fits all.” There are too many grey situations to put all-inclusive legislation in place. This particular group of pastors believe the right to choice is truly a freedom of religion issue.

The discussion became difficult at times. The audience was a mix of our supporters and non-supporters and the pastors opened the discussion up with members from the audience. They listened intently and compassionately to views and interpretations of the scripture much different than their own.

The bottom line, however, is… this topic is just too divisive. Passions run too deep. I don’t know that common ground on this will ever be found. I think about that a lot. I wish we could agree to disagree. I wish we could all see this as personal and private, not something for the government to get mixed up in.

My personal belief is that this is a decision between a woman, her family and her God. I am not in a place to judge other people for their choices. And, we just cannot impose one view on the entire masses.

Someone asked last night about murder. The Bible says it’s wrong, and it’s against the law. This is true. But, what the panel pastors pointed out is: there is widespread agreement that murder is wrong, while we are still a long way from widespread agreement on the abortion debate.

While I don’t believe we will ever all agree on abortion and choice, I do have some hope. I hope that one thing we can agree on is the need to reduce unintended pregnancies. Comprehensive sex education which includes abstinence and access to affordable birth control are just a couple of the ways to do that. If we focused on this, instead of that which divides us, we would see a decrease in unplanned pregnancies and a drop in the number of abortions in this state.

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