WASHINGTON, DC (CWN) - The National Abortions Rights Action League said on Tuesday that pro-life advocates are gaining ground in their fight against abortion, 25 years after the US Supreme Court effectively legalized the practice in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

      NARAL president Kate Michelman said that while the access to abortion is not yet in jeopardy, state and federal regulations enacted in recent years are beginning to encroach on the practice. "We're not losing the war, but the other side's gaining ground," Michelman said. "... But this right will survive because the alternative is unthinkable." The 25th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision will come on January 21., a date on which NARAL releases its annual survey on the state of abortion in the US.

      Eleven states enforce two restrictions on abortion, 12 states enforce one restriction and 11 states do not restrict abortion, the NARAL survey found. Michelman said the pro-life movement has shifted focus from working toward an outright ban on abortion to incrementally whittling away at the legal-standing of the practice. NARAL said the 1992 Supreme Court decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey allowed certain restrictions even while upholding Roe, leading to many states passing restrictions such as mandatory waiting periods.

      Speaking of Planned Parenthood, the Planned Parenthood Federation (PPFA) announced on Tuesday that a coalition of pro-abortion religious leaders will meet to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the legalization of abortion January 16-25 as a counterpoint to the majority of US religious leaders who are pro-life.

      Dubbing the event "A Week of Faith in Choice," PPFA president Gloria Feldt said the Planned Parenthood Pro-Choice Religious Network is meant to show Americans that not all members of various religions are uniformly opposed to abortion. "Thousands of American clergy and millions of religious Americans believe in a woman's right to choose when and whether to have children," said Feldt. "In fact, mainstream clergy have been long-time advocates for improved access to family planning services and for safe, legal abortion." Reverend Tom Davis, chair of the Planned Parenthood Clergy Advisory Board said, "'A Week of Faith in Choice' provides an opportunity for pro-choice religious Americans to gather as one and express their gratitude and support for a woman's right to choose."

      The conference is co-sponsored by PPFA and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice which includes groups such as Catholics for a Free Choice, the Women's League for Conservative Judaism, and Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options, and 35 others. The coalition claims 2,000 members. Coalition president Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale told a telephone news conference that the commemoration would "raise the visibility of the truth that religious people, religious denominations, and faith groups are pro-choice."

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January 15, 1998 volume 9, no. 11          DAILY CATHOLIC