On May 20, 2016, the United Methodist Church General Conference voted to rescind its formal participation in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. We send prayers and support to the tens of thousands of Methodists of conscience who still stand on the side of promoting the inherent dignity of all people to make a decision about their own reproductive lives—including the decision to pursue compassionate abortion care.
RCRC has a forty-three year history of prioritizing the lives of women, families and communities. We believe that comprehensive health care, access to contraception, comprehensive sexuality education and compassionate abortion care are all a fundamental part of how we demonstrate our continued love and care. As people of faith—including scores of Methodists around the country who opposed the break with RCRC—we know that compassion and justice are core values inherent in each of our faith traditions. The focus of RCRC’s ministry for four decades has been based on these faithful values and expressing them with loving, open arms.
We also reject the information about RCRC on which the United Methodist Church based its decision about RCRC involvement. Contrary to the UMC description of our organization, RCRC is a community of religious organizations and faithful individuals in the United States dedicated to achieving reproductive health, rights and justice through advocacy and education. As an ecumenical and interfaith coalition, RCRC encompasses a range of theological perspectives on reproductive issues including perspectives on abortion. However, all of the groups that comprise RCRC affirm that women are trusted moral agents in decisions about childbearing.
The decision by the United Methodist Church to sever its ties with RCRC does not diminish our ministry or our conviction that there must be a home for people of faith to work on behalf of reproductive health, rights and justice. In fact, yesterday’s decision makes our mandate and our path even clearer. RCRC’s ministry and voice are needed by the millions of women and communities of faith across the country who believe that reproductive freedom is a God-given human right.
Our reproductive lives depend on our unity and interfaith solidarity at critical moments such as this. Some religions use their faith principles to shame women, families and communities over sex and reproductive freedom. But RCRC will not be shamed or silenced.
The United Methodist Church General Conference does not make binding policy for Methodist congregations and individuals. We welcome Methodists who share our views to stand with us and to use our resources and programs to benefit their churches and communities. In doing so, they will join a broad range of other denominations speaking out for women’s reproductive freedom on religious grounds.