Faith communities call for clear abortion rules

Interfaith advocacy network Texas Impact mobilizes thousands of Texans to provide public input for the "medical exemptions" provisions in the state’s stringent abortion law.

Photo by Pete Alexopoulos on Unsplash

(Austin) — Texas Impact, the state’s oldest and largest interfaith advocacy network, is mobilizing thousands of Texans of diverse faiths to provide public input into the Texas Medical Board’s announced upcoming rulemaking to clarify the “medical exceptions” provisions in the state’s stringent abortion law.

Texas Impact Executive Director Bee Moorhead said it is crucial for policymakers to hear from people of faith about the need for clear rules addressing when a threat to the life of the mother creates an exception to Texas laws that ban abortions.

“People of faith hold a wide variety of views regarding abortion and other reproductive policies, but Texas Impact’s member faith traditions all agree that women should not be forced to die or suffer irreparable harm from a pregnancy, and that their doctor is the person best positioned to help them navigate their choices if death or injury are possible,” Moorhead said.

Texas Impact is circulating a petition calling on the Medical Board to make rules clarifying three key issues:

  1. When a medical emergency authorizes a physician to perform an abortion that would otherwise be prohibited.
  2. How physicians can ensure their medical judgments meet the standard for “reasonable medical judgment” required for a medical emergency exception.
  3. What legally sufficient evidence must be present to substantiate a claim that an abortion was not protected by a medical emergency exception.

The petition has garnered more than 2,000 signatures in its first ten days in circulation. Social media ads Texas Impact is running on the issue have been seen more than 1 million times over the same period.

Reverend Cathy Sweeney, Associate Pastor of Arapaho United Methodist Church in Richardson, included the issue in a recent sermon and is encouraging her congregation to sign the petition.

“As an ordained United Methodist Deacon, I stand by the United Methodist Social Principles that acknowledge the complexity of medical decisions between medical professionals and women. I urge the Texas Medical Board to further define the rules by which medical professionals can operate to save the life of the mother, without fear of persecution from law enforcement,” Sweeney said.

The Texas Medical Board’s most recent communication indicates that the agency will not make draft rules public until the Board votes on them on March 22, after which they will be published in the Texas Register and open for public comment. The rules must remain open for public comment for a minimum of 30 days, and may be open longer. In its communication, the Board also indicated that there will be at least one stakeholder meeting as part of the public comment process.

About Texas Impact

Texas Impact is a religious grassroots network whose members include individuals, congregations, and governing bodies of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths. Texas Impact exists to advance state public policies that are consistent with the shared values of Texas faith communities.

The non-profit works on a wide variety of public policy issues within the broadly held social concerns of mainstream religious traditions. Texas Impact uses a process of discernment on public policy issues like the processes used by many faith traditions, including Scripture, the wisdom of the faith traditions, current public policy information and data, and the experiential knowledge of people of faith to develop our positions and policy goals.

Contact Bee Moorhead:

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Presbyterian Outlook.