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Priest Pens Newspaper Letter Defending Abortion Access: 'A Safe Place for the Termination of Pregnancy

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"We cannot be silent..."

AP

An Episcopal priest published a letter in a New Orleans newspaper this week officially welcoming Planned Parenthood to his Louisiana neighborhood and making it clear that he joins other local faith leaders in welcoming the facility.

"As priest-in-charge at the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, which is across South Claiborne Avenue from the new Planned Parenthood clinic, I am pleased that the clinic is moving to the area," wrote the Rev. Walter Baer in an edition of the New Orleans Advocate. "I write to express my support for the right of the clinic to be there and to serve the reproductive needs of our community."

He explained that he isn't alone in the faith community in supporting the "rights of women" and expressed disappointment with other Christians who have protested and spoken out against the facility, which has been under construction for quite some time.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: Women hold up signs during a women's pro-choice rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rally was hosted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America to urge Congress against passing any legislation to limit access to safe and legal abortion. Credit: Getty Images  Getty Images

Baer said that the Episcopal Church supports a woman's right to make her own choices about contraception, though he stressed that abortion is rejected as a form of birth control or for "mere convenience."

"The official position of our church is that all human life is sacred from its inception until death," he wrote. "The church takes seriously its obligation to help form the consciences of its members concerning this sacredness. We regard all abortion as having a tragic dimension, calling for the concern and compassion of all the Christian community."

Baer affirmed that it is the legal right for women to have "medically safe" abortions, but said that these procedures should only be used in "extreme situations."

But he also said that the Episcopal Church doesn't support legal efforts to limit women's options.

"We emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection or any reason of mere convenience," he continued. "The Episcopal Church expresses its unequivocal opposition to any legislative, executive or judicial action on the part of local, state or national governments that abridges the right of a woman to reach an informed decision about the termination of pregnancy or that would limit the access of a woman to safe means of acting on her decision."

The priest welcomed the Planned Parenthood clinic to the neighborhood and said that it will help in education, with contraception and in providing, when needed, "a safe place for the termination of pregnancy."

Read Baer's entire letter here.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com Photo credit: Shutterstock

Controversy has brewed over the New Orleans clinic, which is still under construction, with many faith leaders taking an opposite approach and stance to the one Baer espoused in his letter.

In fact, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond published his own letter in January lambasting the Planned Parenthood facility and refusing to remain silent on the matter.

"We cannot be silent in view of the grave injustice presented by the abortions that will be performed at the proposed Planned Parenthood facility," he wrote. "The archdiocese is obliged to remind every person and organization involved in the acquisition, preparation and construction of this or any abortion facility that they are cooperating with the evil that will take place there."

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