Re: Clergy lead faithful in praise, laments

From Rev. Peter Sawtell, a long-time member and retired clergyperson at Wash Park UCC, appeared in Denver Post.

The UCC, since 1971, trusts women, family, parents of children impregnated by rape or incest, to make the best possible healthcare decisions including abortion care. Legislators, government, and the Supreme Court are poor substitutes for making healthcare choices for women. See his wise perspective below.

Re: “Clergy lead faithful in praise, laments” June 27 news story

I appreciated the article, but I felt it was weak in describing the established religious ethics that support freedom of choice regarding abortion.

In 1971, two years before Roe, I was a delegate to the national convention of the United Church of Christ, and I was assigned to the committee that studied a proposed statement on abortion. We spent days in thoughtful and prayerful reflection and deliberation, and there was extensive debate. The delegates voted, by a greater than 90% margin, to approve the final resolution.

The opening sentence of the 1971 statement read, “A responsible position concerning abortion should be based on a consideration of the rights of the individual woman, her potential child, her family and society, as well as the rights of the fetus.” The convention called for the repeal of all legal prohibitions on physician-performed abortions. “This would take abortion out of the realm of penal law and make voluntary and medically safe abortions available to all women.”

Over 50 years ago, my denomination dealt in depth with the personal and social ethics of abortion and clearly stated that abortion must be one of the options available to all women. In keeping with that historic and ongoing commitment to reproductive justice, the national officers of the United Church of Christ issued an official statement against the Supreme Court decision.

Peter Sawtell, Denver

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