President Obama Addresses the Trayvon Martin Case

President Obama addresses the Trayvon Martin case | Wonkblog

READ AND WATCH: President Obama addresses the Trayvon Martin case

By Dylan Matthews, Updated: July 19, 2013

President Obama spoke about the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of his killer, George Zimmermann, at the White House press briefing today.

REPORTERS: Whoa!

Q: Hello.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: That’s so — that’s so disappointing, man. Jay, is this kind of — the kind of respect that you get? (Laughter.)

Q: Wake up!

Q: What brings you out here, Mr. –

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, on — on — on television it usually looks like you’re addressing a full room.

Q: (Laughs.) It’s just a mirage.

Q: There’s generally not –

PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right.

(Cross talk.)

Q: (Inaudible) — got the Detroit story.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I got you. All right. Sorry about that. Do you think anybody else is showing up? Good.

Well, I — I wanted to come out here first of all to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is — is very much looking forward to the session.

Second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks there are going to obviously be a whole range of issues — immigration, economics, et cetera — we’ll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.

The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week, the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling. I gave an — a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.

First of all, you know, I — I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s — it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal — legal issues in the case. I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.

The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a — in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.

But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And you know, I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.

The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact, although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.

We understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African-American community is also not naive in understanding that statistically somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.

So — so folks understand the challenges that exist for African- American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or — and that context is being denied. And — and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think, for a lot of folks is, where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction? You know, I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through as long as it remains nonviolent. If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family.

But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do? I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government — the criminal code. And law enforcement has traditionally done it at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation, we can’t do some things that I think would be productive. So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it’d be productive for the Justice Department — governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.

You know, when I was in Illinois I passed racial profiling legislation. And it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.

And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way, that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and in turn be more helpful in applying the law. And obviously law enforcement’s got a very tough job.

So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought bear if state and local governments are receptive. And I think a lot of them would be. And — and let’s figure out other ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.

I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the stand your ground laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.

On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?

And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three — and this is a long-term project: We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

You know, I’m not naive about the prospects of some brand-new federal program.

I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as president, I’ve got some convening power.

And there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front. And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that — and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed — you know, I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation. And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.

And then finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. You know, there have been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.

On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s a possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can; am I judging people, as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with — with a final thought, that as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. I doesn’t mean that we’re in a postracial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are. They’re better than we were on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

And so, you know, we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues, and those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions. But we should also have confidence that kids these days I think have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did, and that along this long, difficult journey, you know, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

All right? Thank you, guys.

Q: Could you –

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Now you can — now you can talk to Jay.

© The Washington Post Company

Race, White Womanhood, and Trayvon Martin

Race, White Womanhood, and Trayvon Martin.

Reflecting upon the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, I’m struck by the expectations so many in mainstream and social media held for the six women jurors who found Zimmerman not guilty 0f second-degree murder. This jury was more often “gendered” than they were “raced.” Many of us—whatever “side” one took in this controversial high-profile case—assumed that the very biological determinism of their femaleness would engender maternal empathy for Trayvon Martin, the murdered victim, and trump other identities these women held (five of whom were white, one of whom was Hispanic).

There was another narrative that Zimmerman’s defense attorneys conjured up for the jurors that we need to consider, one deeply embedded in the intersections of race and gender: Essentially, his attorneys feminized Zimmerman as they simultaneously criminalized Martin.

It’s curious to me, if we look back to when this case first received national attention, how we as a nation were fairly united in believing the death of the 17-year-old Martin deserved an arrest and a trial. During those early conversations, the prevailing opinion seemed to be that this death, whether based in racial profiling or self-defense, resulted from an unjust confrontation involving an older, heavier, armed man against an underaged, unarmed teen. At the most, Zimmerman was a cold-blooded killer; at the least, he was a coward.

But then President Obama entered the fray and tried to humanize Martin by commenting that, if he had a son, he would probably look like this now-deceased teenager. It was after that moment that Trayvon’s posthumous image was denigrated. Instead of magnifying his humanity, Obama’s comments of paternal compassion deepened the political will of his opponents to demonize this teen.

What unfolded in the wake was what I consider a two-fold demonization. On the one hand, the narrative of a young black teen walking through a middle-class neighborhood in a hoodie deemed him a threat, even though he was only armed with Skittles and iced tea. Those who wanted to conjure an image of the criminalized “thug” could spin this tale however they wanted; Trayvon Martin was dead and rendered forever speechless.

The other narrative, the one less talked about, is perhaps the more enraging: the hypothetical “black president’s son.” This symbolic trespass is sacrilege for some.

The double-reading of “threat” applied to Trayvon Martin’s body propelled enough citizens to raise funds for Zimmerman’s defense, and his defense team did the rest: from ridiculing star witnesses such as Trayvon’s friend Rachel Jeantel to wrestling with an effigy representing Travyon (in the infamous “dummy” demonstrations) to the block of concrete that Trayvon was supposedly “armed with” (when defense attorneys argued that Travyon supposedly slammed Zimmerman’s head in the sidewalk, thus representing life-threatening danger). I thought I was watching theater of the absurd and not a legal court system at work.

I was holding out hope that the jury of women would see through the absurdity and, as prosecutors urged, use common sense. But what  is common sense when one is told that the heavier, older George Zimmerman is just a “scared, inept and cowardly Mr. Softy,” while the 17-year-old deceased is a super-scary black man, so dangerous and so embodied with superhuman strength that he could literally “arm himself with pavement” to the point that Zimmerman had no other choice but to use deadly force to save his own life?

That six women believed such a narrative, enough to constitute reasonable doubt, speaks volumes—less about their lack of maternal empathy for Sybrina Fulton’s son walking home, only to be killed by an armed stranger, and more about the gendered powerlessness, combined with racialized fear, that certain women are conditioned to understand. Never mind that Zimmerman has had a history of domestic violence and assaulted a woman while working as a bouncer—nformation that was never brought up in the trial.

I have a hard time believing that, had there been men on this jury, the defense team would have portrayed an armed “Mr. Softy” threatened by an unarmed teenager. Such a portrait violates the codes of masculinity that they have learned since the playground (i.e., who has the upper hand, which is always, always the guy with the gun). Granted, the attorneys might have tried an altogether different strategy had their been men on the jury, but somehow the feminine, powerless Zimmerman narrative was enough—and could only be convincing (at least enough to create reasonable doubt) if one accepts that Trayvon is the more powerful and violently oppressive of the two. Given his unarmed and underage status, this narrative can only be convincing if one believes, however subconsciously, in the stereotypes of black masculinity.

What bothers me about the gendered and raced narrative that feminized Zimmerman and criminalized Martin are the assumptions made about the women jurors—and white women in particular, most of them mothers. This isn’t just biological essentialism but also the assumption of loyalty to white supremacy. In the past, and perhaps even today, women were often appealed to because of the belief in their “inherent” compassion and empathy—based in motherhood, of course.  This was especially demonstrated during the antebellum Victorian era, when women abolitionists constantly appealed to white women’s common bond as mothers in empathizing with powerless, enslaved black mothers: from Angelina Grimke’s “Appeal to the Christian Women of the South” to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Frances E. W. Harper’s “The Slave Mother” to Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

But think also of the white women who, when they failed to be included in the 15th amendment, which extended the vote to black men but not to white women, fell back on racist outrage and eventually rallied around white supremacy and supported groups like the Ku Klux Klan, which lynched black men to “save” white women’s virtues. White supremacy had become a system worthy of their loyalty.  Indeed, just from listening to Juror B37 in her interview with Anderson Cooper, her ability to sympathize with a George Zimmerman while dismissing the likes of Martin and his friend Rachel Jeantel as “those people,” indicate where her loyalties lie. No wonder Jeantel, in her interview with Piers Morgan, had to sum things up the way she did: “They old! That’s old-school people.” (Translation: based on the age, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds of the jurors, they’re woefully clueless about the lives of others.)

Adrienne Rich said it best in “Disloyal to Civilization” when she argued that white women could not form important connections with other women across the planet—the kinds of connections that would advance women’s collective power and overturn patriarchy—if they remained forever loyal to a white supremacist system. This year we’ve seen women like Abigail Fisher try and overturn affirmative action in a Supreme Court case, much like Barbara Grutter before her, even though white women as a group have benefited more than anyone else from affirmative-action programs. And now, another group of women have failed to give Trayvon Martin justice. These instances suggest that white privilege, power and dominance outweigh any notions of gender justice and solidarity.

Despite white privilege, this loyalty to the same oppressive system that would gladly run roughshod over our rights to choose or not choose motherhood, as has occurred in states like Texas, is woefully misguided. If feminism is to have a future, as Rich noted, “disloyalty [is now] urgent necessity.”

Picture of Rachel Jeantel taken from Youtube

Women Don’t Realise Just How Good They Are, Study Reveals

Women don’t realise just how good they are, survey reveals

Kayleigh Bateman Wednesday 17 July 2013 15:12

Both men and women agree to being happy with a career in technology and being offered equal opportunities, but women are lacking self-belief, according to a survey from Mortimer Spinks and Computer Weekly.

The survey revealed that men and women feel there no is longer is a major difference in career happiness and opportunities for promotion, regardless of maternity leave or career breaks. 95% of women said they are happy with their careers in technology, exactly the same number as men (see image 1).

women in IT.jpg
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Overall, both men and women feel they share the same skills to be in with an equal chance of moving up the career ladder. When comparing roles of seniority, both paint a similar picture with 25% of males and females as senior team members and 14% of both as mid-level team members (see image 2).

Asking the 1,318 respondents (45% women and 55% men) about the effects of sabbaticals or maternity leave, the survey found both genders firmly believed that taking a year off does not mean the employee will end up further down the career ladder compared with someone who did not.

However, despite these positive results there is still one major difference between men and women – self-belief.

Both men and women are in agreement about the factors needed to progress in a career. Both highlighted “being a good team player” and “fitting into the culture” as the most important social factors to a successful career. These were followed by factors more associated with the individual: “Being prepared to take risks”; “being ambitious”; and “being able to work extra hours/weekends” (see image 3).

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Image 1

However, when asked how successful respondents were in achieving these career factors, on average men considered themselves 20% more successful at “being prepared to take risks” (21%), “being ambitious” (23%) and “being able to work extra hours/weekends” (15%) when compared to women respondents. Women chose not to tick the “very successful” box as often as their male counterparts (see image 4).

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Image 2

Women did approximately rank themselves as equal to men in terms of “being a good team player” and “fitting into the culture”.

Harry Gooding, head of client engagement at Mortimer Spinks, said: “When it comes to the self-belief question I don’t believe it to be a perceptible factor in day-to-day working life. It is more something that, over the course of a career, lots of seemingly small decisions/moments, adds up.

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Image 3

“An example of this might be that men are more likely to talk over others than women and, over the course of a career, that means – rightly or wrongly – that they may be heard more often.”

According to Beth Nevins, interim management consultant at Mortimer Spinks, the lack of self-belief is two-fold: “Kathryn Parsons, co-founder of Decoded, has said that, when teaching women to code, they immediately feel they don’t have the ability to do it. This highlights there is an ‘image’ problem in the commercial and technology world around women in relation to technology.

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Image 4

“For women who are in technology I think there aren’t enough women who have senior positions in technology to act as role models/mentors to encourage more women to cross into technology or be more ambitious in the technology industry when they’re outnumbered by men.”

Technology remains less attractive to women

Despite the fact that men and women do appear to have equal opportunities in technology and most enjoy their careers, almost six in 10 (59%) of women still believe that starting a career in technology is less attractive to women then it is to men (see image 5).

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DOWNLOAD THE FULL SURVEY HERE

Women in Technology 2013

Furthermore, almost half (47 per cent) did not see the situation improving in the future. In 2012, the proportion of technology jobs taken up by women was 15.75%, which fell to 14.7% in 2013 (see image 6).

Nevins said: “I think the figures that show that most women in technology are happy in their careers should be used to encourage the benefits that a technology career can uniquely offer to women and in general.”

“It was really refreshing finding that the women who have made it into the industry are so happy and don’t feel there are major imbalances in their careers. However in some ways this makes it all the more frustrating there is such an imbalance,” Gooding added.

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Image 6

The survey also revealed that 35% of people in the industry came from other areas of business (see image 7).

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Image 7

In addition 61% of people in the industry see cross training from other disciplines as a possible way of addressing the skills shortage (see image 8).

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Image 8

“There is a need now for those women that are in technology to take their status to act a role models, mentors and unofficial career advisors. I think the way job specifications and branding on technology websites about the ‘team’ should also be revisited and revamped to show other women how female technology employees are thriving in the technology industry,” Nevins added.

Gooding concluded: “What worries me is that, if anything, the problem seems to be getting worse year by year. One change I think we can all try is to change the conversation from ‘the lack of women in technology’ to ‘how amazing careers are for women in technology’.

——————————————————————————–

Some myths and truths about women in IT

Myths
• Women are drawn to teams with more women in them;
• Women in technology are in more junior roles;
• Women do not fit into the culture;
• Women get into technology so they can do the creative roles;
• Women take career breaks more than men;
• Women have different skills to men;
• All women believe there should be more women in tech.

Truths
• Women are more successful at fitting into the culture of the team than men;
• Women make up 15% of the technology workforce;
• Women progress at the same speed as men;
• 64% of women have felt discriminated against in their job because of their gender;
• Women in technology are happy to be there;
• The number of women in technology is not increasing.

Many assume religious peo…

Many assume religious people are pro-life, and certainly the fundamentalists who deign to speak for us all would have everyone think so, but many national Christian and Jewish denominations have made pro-choice statements on abortion. Here is a sampling of national Christian and Jewish statements found on the website of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice:

“We believe that legislation concerning abortions will not address the root of the problem. We therefore express our deep conviction that any proposed legislation on the part of national or state governments regarding abortions must take special care to see that individual conscience is respected and that the responsibility of individuals to reach informed decisions in this matter is acknowledged and honored….” Episcopal Church

“Problem pregnancies are the result of, and influenced by, so many complicated and insolvable circumstances that we have neither the wisdom nor the authority to address or decide each situation….
We affirm the ability and responsibility of women, guided by the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, to make good moral choices in regard to problem pregnancies.” -Presbyterian Church

“We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers.” -Methodist Church

“Catholics for Choice was founded in 1973 and strives to be an expression of Catholicism as it is lived by ordinary people. We are part of the great majority of the faithful in the Catholic church who disagrees with the dictates of the Vatican on matters related to sex, marriage, family life and motherhood. We are part of the great majority who believes that Catholic teachings on conscience mean that every individual must follow his or her own conscience – and respect others’ right to do the same.
Catholic for Choice’s mission is to shape and advance sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women’s well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of women and men to make moral decisions about their lives. We are committed not only to policy change, but also to a change in the culture in which policy decisions are made, a change in people’s hearts and minds about the ways they think about sexuality and reproduction.” Catholics for Choice

“(We) Affirm our unwavering commitment to the protection and preservation of the reproductive rights of women; pledge our presence and support wherever, whenever, and for however long our goal may require it at the federal, state and local levels of government; further, we affirm our commitment to work in coalition with compatible pro-choice groups.” Union of Reform Judaism

“Judaism does not believe that personhood and human rights begin with conception. The premise that personhood begins with conception is founded on a religious position which is not identical with Jewish tradition. Therefore, under special circumstances, Judaism chooses and requires abortion as an act which affirms and protects the life, well being and health of the mother. To deny a Jewish woman and her family the ability to obtain a safe, legal abortion when so mandated by Jewish tradition, is to deprive Jews of their fundamental right of religious freedom…” United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism

“Although the Jewish tradition regards children as a blessing, a gift of life itself, the tradition permits the abortion of an unborn child in order to safeguard the life and physical and mental health of the mother. The rabbis did not take a consistent stand on the question of whether a fetus resembles “a person.” They did not think it possible to arrive at a final theoretical answer to the question of abortion, for that would mean nothing less than to be able to define convincingly what it means to be human.
We recognize that abortion is a tragic choice. Any prospective parent must make an agonizing decision between competing claims—the fetus, health, the need to support oneself and one’s family, the need for time for a marriage to stabilize, responsibility for other children and the like. Some of us consider abortion to be immoral except under the most extraordinary circumstances. Yet we all empathize with the anguish of those who must make the decision….” -Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

“We grieve with all who struggle with the difficult circumstances that lead them to consider abortion. Recognizing that each person is ultimately responsible to God, we encourage women and men in these circumstances to seek spiritual counsel as they prayerfully and conscientiously consider their decision…We also recognize that we are divided as to the proper witness of the church to the state regarding abortion…Consequently, we acknowledge the freedom of each individual to advocate for a public policy on abortion that reflects his or her beliefs.” -American Baptist

“For two decades the AFSC has taken a consistent position supporting a woman’s right to follow her own conscience concerning child-bearing, abortion and sterilization. AFSC is deeply aware that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is seldom an easy one. That choice must be made free of coercion, including the coercion of poverty, racial discrimination and availability of services to those who cannot pay.” (American Friends Service Committee)

The link below will take you to the full faith statements of these and other religious organizations. The larger documents detail the concerns each group has with abortion. Being pro-choice does not mean being pro-abortion. No one is pro-abortion any more than they are pro-amputation. Being pro-choice means believing women are moral agents and trusting that, if they have a full and healthy range of reproductive options, women will usually do a better job of making ethical decisions for their own lives than will the government or any one religious sect who would try to speak for us all.

http://www.rcrc.org/issues/weaffirm_2012.cfm

http://www.jimrigby.org/choice-as-a-spiritual-issue/#.UelCE8Chsu0.facebook

Many assume religious people are pro-life, and certainly the fundamentalists who deign to speak for us all would have everyone think so, but many national Christian and Jewish denominations have made pro-choice statements on abortion. Here is a sampling of national Christian and Jewish statements found on the website of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice:

“We believe that legislation concerning abortions will not address the root of the problem. We therefore express our deep conviction that any proposed legislation on the part of national or state governments regarding abortions must take special care to see that individual conscience is respected and that the responsibility of individuals to reach informed decisions in this matter is acknowledged and honored….” Episcopal Church

“Problem pregnancies are the result of, and influenced by, so many complicated and insolvable circumstances that we have neither the wisdom nor the authority to address or decide each situation….
We affirm the ability and responsibility of women, guided by the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, to make good moral choices in regard to problem pregnancies.” -Presbyterian Church

“We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers.” -Methodist Church

“Catholics for Choice was founded in 1973 and strives to be an expression of Catholicism as it is lived by ordinary people. We are part of the great majority of the faithful in the Catholic church who disagrees with the dictates of the Vatican on matters related to sex, marriage, family life and motherhood. We are part of the great majority who believes that Catholic teachings on conscience mean that every individual must follow his or her own conscience – and respect others’ right to do the same.
Catholic for Choice’s mission is to shape and advance sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women’s well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of women and men to make moral decisions about their lives. We are committed not only to policy change, but also to a change in the culture in which policy decisions are made, a change in people’s hearts and minds about the ways they think about sexuality and reproduction.” Catholics for Choice

“(We) Affirm our unwavering commitment to the protection and preservation of the reproductive rights of women; pledge our presence and support wherever, whenever, and for however long our goal may require it at the federal, state and local levels of government; further, we affirm our commitment to work in coalition with compatible pro-choice groups.” Union of Reform Judaism

“Judaism does not believe that personhood and human rights begin with conception. The premise that personhood begins with conception is founded on a religious position which is not identical with Jewish tradition. Therefore, under special circumstances, Judaism chooses and requires abortion as an act which affirms and protects the life, well being and health of the mother. To deny a Jewish woman and her family the ability to obtain a safe, legal abortion when so mandated by Jewish tradition, is to deprive Jews of their fundamental right of religious freedom…” United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism

“Although the Jewish tradition regards children as a blessing, a gift of life itself, the tradition permits the abortion of an unborn child in order to safeguard the life and physical and mental health of the mother. The rabbis did not take a consistent stand on the question of whether a fetus resembles “a person.” They did not think it possible to arrive at a final theoretical answer to the question of abortion, for that would mean nothing less than to be able to define convincingly what it means to be human.
We recognize that abortion is a tragic choice. Any prospective parent must make an agonizing decision between competing claims—the fetus, health, the need to support oneself and one’s family, the need for time for a marriage to stabilize, responsibility for other children and the like. Some of us consider abortion to be immoral except under the most extraordinary circumstances. Yet we all empathize with the anguish of those who must make the decision….” -Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

“We grieve with all who struggle with the difficult circumstances that lead them to consider abortion. Recognizing that each person is ultimately responsible to God, we encourage women and men in these circumstances to seek spiritual counsel as they prayerfully and conscientiously consider their decision…We also recognize that we are divided as to the proper witness of the church to the state regarding abortion…Consequently, we acknowledge the freedom of each individual to advocate for a public policy on abortion that reflects his or her beliefs.” -American Baptist

“For two decades the AFSC has taken a consistent position supporting a woman’s right to follow her own conscience concerning child-bearing, abortion and sterilization. AFSC is deeply aware that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is seldom an easy one. That choice must be made free of coercion, including the coercion of poverty, racial discrimination and availability of services to those who cannot pay.” (American Friends Service Committee)

The link below will take you to the full faith statements of these and other religious organizations. The larger documents detail the concerns each group has with abortion. Being pro-choice does not mean being pro-abortion. No one is pro-abortion any more than they are pro-amputation. Being pro-choice means believing women are moral agents and trusting that, if they have a full and healthy range of reproductive options, women will usually do a better job of making ethical decisions for their own lives than will the government or any one religious sect who would try to speak for us all.

http://www.rcrc.org/issues/weaffirm_2012.cfm