Abortion Debate at State Level

As a Lutheran minister who is actively pro-choice, I take issue with your article, "Pro-Choice: Silence in the Pulpit" (which dealt with churches in Southern California, Metro, Oct. 11). Far from exerting "little leadership" for choice, hundreds of mainline Protestant ministers, myself included, have been in the forefront of this battle where it counts most: the states where this right is now under fire.

We are working to defend choice because we believe strongly that each family or woman facing this painful decision should follow the dictates of conscience and religious conviction--not government coercion. Since religions differ widely on abortion, restrictions on this right pose a threat to our religious freedom.

I recently returned from Florida, where the mainline clergy's early and visible role helped win the first post-Webster state-level victory for choice. Clergy members were the first pro-choice witnesses at hearings on abortion rights in September. And pro-choice religious leaders kept the heat on through the climactic October vote.

Pro-choice activism is on the rise among religious leaders in other states where this right is threatened.

Of course, I would like to see more ministers and rabbis and people of faith get actively involved in supporting choice. The religious community is by its nature reflective and thoughtful, not quick to leap into the political fray. But history shows that when an issue threatens the welfare of our flock, or impinges on our religious freedom, we do not hesitate to speak out.

REV. CHARLES

BERGSTROM

Executive Committee Chairman

People for the American Way

Washington, D.C.

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