Clergy Statement on Access to Contraception
The Clergy Advisory Board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) strongly supports increasing the availability of affordable birth control and funding for family planning programs.
As clergy, representing diverse denominations and faith traditions, we celebrate the human capacity for sexual intimacy and the ability to bear and raise children. We also understand that human beings are not blessed with a limitless ability to bear and raise children. Even as we value procreation, we also value what access to contraception brings us — the ability to share in responsible intimacy that strengthens a relationship, separate and apart from having children. Building a strong relationship is good for a couple, whether or not they have children.
The decision to have a child is one of the most important decisions women and couples make. The privileged in this world have access to the services necessary to decide for themselves when and whether to plan for a family. Low-income women and couples often do not. More than seventeen million women in the U.S. need subsidized birth control, but there is not enough funding to meet the need. Women, regardless of their socioeconomic status, should have access to affordable reproductive health care services to ensure that they can plan their pregnancies. Poor women are just as capable of making moral decisions about whether or not to bear children as affluent women.
As clergy, we believe that each person is endowed with the God-given gift of free will. Birth control enables people to freely decide when to start a family and when to expand their family. Giving people both the access and the resources they need — birth control and medically accurate, comprehensive sex education — to decide when and whether to have a child is the best way to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.
We are all created in God’s image, and as clergy we believe it is our responsibility to encourage people to be good stewards of their bodies. Women are unable to treat their bodies with reverence and respect when faced with barriers to services that can help them plan pregnancies, prevent sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and detect breast and cervical cancer.
As clergy who have counseled women facing unintended pregnancies, we know that birth control is an important part of health care. We urge our elected officials to endorse reproductive health care by supporting programs that expand birth control access to low-income women and men, ensure that insurance plans cover birth control prescriptions, help universities and nonprofit health care providers offer low-cost contraceptives, and guarantee that pharmacies dispense contraception. Birth control is basic health care. All women and couples should have access to affordable family planning.
Updated March 2010