UM Clergywoman Appointed Director of Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

By Walter Fenton

Many Ohio United Methodists were surprised to learn this past summer that a UM clergy woman had been appointed to serve as the Executive Director of the Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), an organization allied with Planned Parenthood.

According to a Columbus Dispatch article, the Rev. Laura Young testified before an Ohio Senate committee considering a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

rcrcYoung, according to the article, describes herself as a “progressive theological thinker and a feminist.” She is concerned, she says, that clergy members from all faiths are not doing enough to advocate for women’s health issues and abortion rights.

RCRC strongly defends a woman’s right to “both prevent and interrupt a pregnancy,” and acknowledges no boundaries for pursuing those rights. The organization has worked to defeat laws that would reduce the number of abortions in the United States.

The United Methodist Church states in its Social Principles that, “we cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection or eugenics.”

Furthermore, unlike RCRC, the UM Church says it opposes “the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion).” It only allows for such a procedure if the “physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life.”

Despite the Church’s advocacy for relatively strict constraints on abortion, its General Board of Church and Society and the United Methodist Women are listed as members of the national RCRC organization.

On the recommendation of the West Ohio Annual Conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry, Bishop Gregory Palmer appointed Young to serve as Ohio RCRC’s Executive Director. Given the recommendation of the board and the UM Church’s affiliation with RCRC, Palmer had little choice but to appoint her to the post.

Lifewatch, UMAction, Good News and the Confessing Movement have repeatedly worked to completely sever any UM affiliation with RCRC, and will do so again at the 2016 General Conference.

Walter Fenton is a United Methodist clergyperson and analyst for Good News. 


  1. We have a United Methodist clergy person involved in this? There are no words to describe such evil.

  2. Not sure I understand why Bishop Palmer had no choice. Is RCRC Director a paid UMC position? Why does he have to appoint anyone to this post at all? A little more explaining on that would be nice.

  3. Darrell Test says

    I want representation. You are taking my money and using it to fund actions which I strongly oppose.

    What action may I take to cause the UM to withdraw from support of RCRC?

    • David Goudie says

      The Institute on Religion and Democracy, reported that the Mississippi conference, does have legislation submitted to General conference to make our current stance in the Book of discipline more pro life and to severe more of our ties with the RCRC.
      You can find the article here.
      Pray that it passes and if possible encourage the elected delegates from your conference to pass it. (In addition, I’ve started to discover that both individually and encouraging congregations to support pro life pregnancy centers in your area is also a good way to start taking a stand).

      Also after having looked as Young’s web site it gets me so frustrated.

      because even though the book of discipline is rather wishy washy at best… and I hope it is changed to be stronger pro life at General Conference … even with where it stands now … Young’s work is in contradiction to the discipline
      for the Book of Discipline states in paragraph 161 J
      “We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we Unconditionally reject it as a means of Gender Selection or Eugenics.”

      Yet on her site she urges the repeal of “Sex Selective Abortion Ban 570 … which she states is
       “Sex-Selective Abortion Ban: H.B. 570 – A misleading and misguided approach. While many of us abhor sex selection or the favoring of children of one sex over another in any form, an abortion ban of this type has extreme consequences. HB 570 imposes severe penalties on practitioners (doctors) who perform abortions while suspecting their patient seeks the abortion because she wants to control the sex of her next baby. First of all, doctors are not mind-readers. Secondly, to safely proceed in such an environment, many practitioners might deny abortion access to any woman with a cultural background that favors a certain sex (for example, Asian, Indian, or Middle Eastern cultures). This is, to say the least, unfair, unjust, and wrong. ASSIGNED TO HEALTH AND AGING COMMITTEE OF HOUSE.”

      EVEN in “Sex selective abortions” which the discipline outright denounces “UNCONDITIONALLY” … she is working and using apportionment dollars to advocate. Sad. Just sad.

      • David Goudie says

        note to clarify: I meant to say the BOD is wishy washy “On matters of abortion” (at least in my view).

  4. the enemy hates clarity says

    Mr. Fenton, could you expand on your statement that “(g)iven the recommendation of the board (of Ordained Ministry) and the UM Church’s affiliation with the RCRC, Palmer had little choice but to appoint her to the post”?


    The enemy hates clarity

    • David Goudie says

      Mr. Fenton,
      I’m also interested in the response to this question. (especially now that my current Bishop announced her retirement, and being in that Jurisdiction, Bishop Palmer could be assigned to my conference. ) So I am wondering if it was something Bishop Palmer is really compelled/obligated to do because of the leadership of that conference … or if it is a sign of his own viewpoint?

      Thanks for any insight you can give.
      David Goudie

  5. Rev. Margaret Stratton says

    What a shame that our denomination is in anyway ssociated with the RCRC, let alone one of our clergy being an Executive Director in one of our states. What do you think our dear Lord Jesus would think and react to this? Jesus says, Let the little children come unto me for such is the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is pro-life not pro-death. Rev. Margaret Stratton. Fort Worth

  6. Why do we allow clergy to go against the BoD? Follow it or change it. We should not allow them to disregard the BoD.

  7. Howard Fryman says

    Wasn’t there a UMC “pastor” under special appointment by KY Conference Bishop Morgan as Executive Director of Planned Parenthood of KY in the late 1990’s?
    There is a massive disconnect between the local church and those who are suppose to be leading.

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