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Abortion tints bigger issue

Jan. 22nd marked the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade. As a pastor who is often called upon to help people work through difficult decisions, this anniversary gives me cause to reflect.

In 1967, a spirit of compassion led clergy in New York City to organize the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion. Ministers and rabbis across the country saved the lives of up to 100,000 women by referring them to safe abortion services. Today we have legal access to family planning services and reproductive health care, yet controversy over the abortion issue often clouds larger issues.The decision to seek an abortion is never an easy one. As law professor Robin West once put it, women's decisions to obtain abortions are not made selfishly, but "almost invariably . . . within a web of interlocking, competing, and often irreconcilable responsibilities and commitments." Women wrestle with the decision amid needs "to plan responsibly and have a family for which they can provide, to pursue professional or work commitments made to the outside world or to continue supporting their families or communities."

I believe that we must protect a woman's right to obtain an abortion, while working to create a society in which abortions are largely unnecessary. In Utah, many organizations work to prevent the need for abortion and to guarantee, through family planning, that women and their families can enjoy healthier and more productive lives. The only way to ensure responsible choices is to focus on prevention.

Thoughtful and compassionate people of faith can disagree on the issue of reproductive choice. My own prayer is that this nation will move beyond the relentless battle over abortion and meaningfully address the deeper issues: responsible sex education, access to family planning services and above all, creating a society that truly welcomes and cares for all its children.

Suzanna R. Spencer

Minister, South Valley

Unitarian Universalist Society

Salt Lake City