Planned Parenthood Pasadena Celebrates 80 years
The Rev. Ed Bacon and Rev. Tom Davis were two of the guest speakers at a special luncheon Tuesday at Altadena Country Club to help Pasadena’s Planned Parenthood celebrate the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
The well-known local and national scholars of theology and current events brought forth some meticulous insight into a woman’s right to choose and the ongoing debate on behalf of the conservative right in the United States which Reverend Tom Davis said is “absolutely about controlling women’s’ lives.”
Ed Bacon, who is rector at All Saints is not one known for his silence on social issues. Bacon’s 4000 member congregation is arguably the most progressive in the Los Angeles area when fighting social injustice and peace issues.
Bacon said Tuesday that the attempts by those opposed to a woman’s right to choose are “ Racist and sexist…” and he continued that those attempts to quash a woman’s right to choose was a “sin.”
Attended by over 100 people, this thoughtful dialogue about a complex topic focused on shared values, not divisions. Speakers Reverend Ed Bacon, Rector of All Saints Church in Pasadena, and Reverend Tom Davis, chair of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Clergy Advisory Board, highlighted the history of faith-based communities’ involvement and influence in expanding women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care, and their commitment to protecting the Roe decision.
“As a leading women’s health care provider and advocate in California, we know that abortion is a deeply personal and difficult decision for a woman to make, if and when she needs it,” said Sheri Bonner, President and CEO of the local Planned Parenthood. “Today we were honored to be joined by two remarkable faith leaders to help us reframe the conversation and promote a nonjudgmental approach to trusting and supporting women and families.”
A majority of Americans respect the privacy of every woman to make her own decisions when faced with a pregnancy, and oppose efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 77 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in some or all circumstances.
Roe v. Wade, (1973), was a ground-breaking pronouncement by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. Decided simultaneously with a companion case, Doe v. Bolton, the Court ruled 7–2 that a right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion, but that right must be balanced against the state’s two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting prenatal life and protecting women’s health. Arguing that these state interests became stronger over the course of a pregnancy, the Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the trimester of pregnancy.
The Court later rejected Roe’s trimester framework, while affirming Roe’s central holding that a person has a right to abortion until viability. The Roe decision defined “viable” as being “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid”, adding that viability “is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks.”
Sheri Bonner, President and CEO of Pasadena Planned Parenthood thanked the two speakers for their commitment to Planned Parenthood and for their thoughtful speeches and invited questions from the audience.
One guest asked what could be done to combat ignorance. Reverend Ed Bacon said simply “Tell a story and listen.” “Be a storyteller,” he asserted.
Reverend Tom Davis said he agreed that storytelling was the answer and added that the pioneering work of Margaret Sanger should always be honored.
Sanger, who started her campaign to educate women about sex in 1912 by writing a newspaper column called “What Every Girl Should Know.” also worked as a nurse on the Lower East Side of New York, at the time a predominantly poor immigrant neighborhood.
Through her work, Sanger treated a number of women who had undergone back-alley abortions or tried to self-terminate their pregnancies. Sanger objected to the unnecessary suffering endured by these women, and she fought to make birth control information and contraceptives available. She also began dreaming of a “magic pill” to be used to control pregnancy. “No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother,” Sanger said.
Roe v. Wade prompted a national debate that continues today, about issues including whether and to what extent abortion should be legal, who should decide the legality of abortion, what methods the Supreme Court should use in constitutional adjudication, and what the role should be of religious and moral views in the political sphere. Roe v. Wade reshaped national politics, dividing much of the United States into pro-choice and pro-life camps, while activating grassroots movements on both sides.
Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley works every day to reduce unintended pregnancy and keep women healthy. Planned Parenthood health centers across the country provide accurate information about contraceptive methods, comprehensive sexual health education for youth and adults, and access to the full range of reproductive health services. Nationwide, these efforts prevent an estimated 684,000 unintended pregnancies and 325,000 abortions every year.
Rev. Tom Davis speaks from experience and his heart at Pasadena’s Planned Parenthood’s 40th Recognition of Roe v. Wade.
Rev.Ed Bacon of All Saints in Pasadena spoke to the large lunch gathering commemorating Roe. V Wade decision 40 years ago Tuesday. -Photos by Terry Miller