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BFM Response to FCNL's request for input on their

Policy on Reproductive Health Care

In January 2023, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) asked local Friends Meetings for discernment on FCNL's Policy Note on Reproductive Health Care, including abortion. This request arose from concern from Friends around the country on the lack of a clear policy position for Friends on reproductive health issues, especially following the overturning of Roe v Wade in 2022. 

Click here for the original FCNL request letter. The input from local Meetings was requested by May 1, 2023.

BFM's final approved report to FCNL 

Approved by BFM Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, May 7, 2023

Introductory paragraph

We are thankful for the opportunity to give input to the dialogue on Reproductive Justice being undertaken by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) in the light of the recent Dobbs decision overturning Roe vs. Wade. We feel strongly that the issue of reproductive justice is just that, a seeking for justice in reproductive health issues which touches on many of the core principles outlined in "The World We Seek", FCNL's policy statement.... 

Click here for BFM's full report 

 Below are the background materials, meetings, and links that helped shape BFM's final report, including open input from BFM's members and attenders and led by BFM's Peace and Social Justice Committee. 

Policy Notes on Reproductive Health Care 


The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) has asked local Friends Meetings for discernment on their Policy Note on Reproductive Health Care.  This request arises from concern from Friends around the country on the lack of a clear policy position on reproductive health issues following the overturning of Roe v Wade in 2022. 

Input from local Meetings is requested by May 1, 2023.

  • Bethesda Friends is holding a series of opportunities for Dialogue and Discernment on the multiple aspects of this issue.  All are encouraged to participate (see Upcoming Activities below).  
  • An important part of this discernment is its relevance to BFM's work on social justice issues, as the lack of availability of reproductive health and family care disproportionately affects the poor and people of color.   FCNL has sent out four queries for our consideration  (see below).  

From FCNL's "request discernment" webpage 

FCNL’s Policy Statement, The World We Seek, serves as our foundational document, outlining FCNL's broad policy positions. Section III.2.7 of The World We Seek states that since Friends are not in unity on abortion issues, "FCNL takes no position and does not act either for or against abortion legislation."

After the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade,

the Policy Committee heard concern from Friends around the country

about FCNL’s lack of position on the issue of abortion.

FCNL’s Policy Committee has invited Friends to listen deeply in their communities around issues of reproductive health care, including abortion.

Queries and Structure to Support our Discernment

  • FCNL’s Policy Committee invites your Quaker discernment group [at BFM] to focus on the issue of reproductive health care, including abortion, and advise us whether FCNL should revise our policy statement.

Queries to discuss to support BFM's discernment 

  • What does reproductive health care look like in the world that you and your community seek?
  • How are Quaker values and testimonies relevant to the issue of reproductive health and abortion?
  • Should the FCNL Policy Statement be revised on the issues of reproductive health and abortion?
  • If so, what should the Policy Statement say?

As we answer these queries, please reference this clip

from FCNL's full Legislative Policy Statement "The World We Seek":

From FCNL's Legislative Policy Statement

III.2.6: Health Care. Universal access to affordable, effective, comprehensive health care is a right and is necessary to allow all people to fulfill their potential. Comprehensive health care includes primary, acute, and long-term care, including prescription drugs, as well as mental health and substance abuse treatment. To ensure access, health services should be provided where an individual’s needs can best be met. Our country can only maintain and improve the physical and mental health of its population with affordable health care that covers the entire life span, from prenatal to end-of-life care. Public health services, which protect us all, require robust federal support.

III.2.7. NOTE: Members of the Society of Friends are not in unity on abortion issues. Therefore, FCNL  takes no position and does not act either for or against abortion legislation. On occasion, FCNL may appeal to lawmakers not to use the abortion debate to paralyze action on other legislation. 

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES to discuss these topics  

  • Wed. March 22, 6:30 p.m.: FCNL: Supporting Friends Discernment on Reproductive Health.  Online conversation among Friends on their discernment on this issue.  Registration required. Click on the Register LINK on this page.  
  • Sun. March 26, 9:00 a.m.: BFM Peace and Social Justice Committee Meeting (via Zoom) to discuss this topic.  Interested attenders and members are welcome to attend. Please use our Contact Us form to request the Zoom link.
  • Sun. April 2, 2023: BFM Dialogue and Discernment on Reproductive Justice - In-person at the Meeting House at 12:15 and via Zoom. Please use our Contact Us form to request the Zoom link..
  • Sat. April 15. 9:30-3:30: Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Networking Day (via Zoom and in-person).  AFriends Meeting of Washington, DC.  One session at this gathering will be on Reproductive Justice issues. Click here to download the event details and registration. Please use our Contact Us form to request the Zoom link. Sponsored by BYM’s Peace & Social Concerns Committee.  


  • Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) adopted a pro-choice Minute in 1979, illustrating a history of local Friends supporting reproductive justice and the right to abortion. To read a summary of all the BYM Minutes, please click here. To read a copy of all BYM Minutes, please check with the BFM Library
  • "The Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends opposes any U.S. Constitutional Amendment which would outlaw abortion.  Baltimore Yearly Meeting 1979 yearbook, p P. 8."

  • The 1979 Minute reads:  "Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends recognizes and reaffirms the basic commitment of Friends to the sacredness of life as well as the quality of life. We do not advocate or encourage abortion as a desirable method of birth control. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that in some extremely unfortunate circumstances a woman might find abortion the least undesirable of several tragic options. The responsibility for making such a decision ultimately rests with the pregnant woman herself. We affirm every pregnant woman’s right to safe and effective medical care throughout her pregnancy and the birth. When abortions are performed, safe and professional medical procedures should be assured."  Source: Baltimore Yearly Meeting 1979 yearbook, p P. 8
  • Bethesda Friends Meeting (BFM) adopted a Minute on "Privacy and the State" at their July 17, 2022 Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business. Please click here to read about Quaker "Minutes" and to read the Privacy Minute in full.  
    • The discussion at the BFM Worship Business Meeting spoke to the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision and the clear and present danger it has and continues to present to women and girls all across the country. Many Friends spoke about the need for us to go beyond the right to abortion to support reproductive justice, which means fully financing and supporting pre- and post-natal care as well as child care and income support for mothers and children. We also reviewed the Friends Committee on National Legislation's call for a review and reconsideration of Friends' views on abortion, and spoke about the work of Meetings, like Friends Meeting of Washington (FMW), that have adopted similar Minutes.
  • Efforts within BYM to Advance Reproductive Justice and Rights since the Dobbs Decision, dated October 27, 2022. Please click here to access the full document, which includes the activities and approved Minutes of various Monthly Meetings. 
    • The opening statement reads: The U.S. Supreme Court decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v Wade, allows individual states to enact restrictions on abortion.  As the dissenting justices noted, in overturning Roe and Casey, the majority rejected the right to privacy as a foundation to other freedoms involving bodily integrity, familial relationships, and procreation.  These changes came as some states seek to restrict the rights to vote and limit voice in our democracy.  Friends across BYM Monthly Meetings responded with planned actions and newly drafted minutes.  BYM Peace and Social Concerns reviewed past BYM minutes and convened a Working Group on Reproductive Justice.


      from Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Friends to all our local Meetings 

      Dear Friends, 

      This country has been immersed for so long in our struggles with racism. At this troubled time, BYM Friends as individuals, with our local Meetings, and with other worshiping communities, are called to act and to help in turning this historic tide of racism both in our wider society and in ourselves. 

      • Our Quaker values call us to speak truth and to seek equality for all people. Our BYM Declaration As An Anti-Racist Faith Community calls us to work with impacted people to make a difference with all our decisions and actions. With this letter, a group of BYM Friends from several states and committees unite to call for all our local Meetings to take action.  
      • As Quakers once served as catalysts and key allies in the struggle to end slavery, please take this opportunity brought by our country’s shame at law enforcement’s misuse of deadly force against George Floyd and so many other people of color, by the ongoing protests, in the eye of our COVID-19 storm. Let us accept Bayard Rustin’s wisdom that “we need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers” and John Lewis’s call to “make good trouble.”
      • Please go to the full document for recommendations.

      Peace Minutes

      Bethesda Friends Meeting (BFM) Peace Minutes:

      In 1996 BFM wrote a statement (also known as a "minute") on the topic of "Prevention and Peaceful Resolution of International Conflicts." More than 20 years later, the epistle still has meaning and resonance. To read it, click here.
      Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Peace Minutes
      The BYM Peace and Social Concerns Committee works to bring to life the testimonies of the wider Religious Society of Friends. In August 2017, Baltimore Yearly Meeting approved this minute at their annual sessions:
      "Minute regarding Consideration of US Renewed Military Action Against North Korea." 

      Please click here to read more details about this Minute and the BYM Peace & Social Concerns committee.

      Recent Committee Focus Areas

      Ending Mass Incarceration
      BFM is well-represented at Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform (MAJR) and Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Working Group on Racism meetings. As a result of MAJR’s efforts in Annapolis, a Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council (with key people in the Maryland State government) has reviewed current practices in Maryland. MAJR is considering additional initiatives related to promoting alternatives to incarceration (front door issues: bail reform, treatment for addictions, citations rather than arrests), prison conditions (expanding educational opportunities and improving health care, ending solitary confinement), and supporting successful re-entry (back door issues of collateral consequences, expanding job opportunities, etc.) In 2016, we sponsored Ending the Revolving Door, a forum on two highly successful re-entry programs and designated a social concerns box to getting Smart Cards to help returning citizens with transportation critical to finding employment.

      Black Lives Matter
      Correlated with Ending Mass Incarceration was our support for the Black Lives Matter movement, for which we had a forum (November 2015) to look at next steps in our response to The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. Some participated in the White Privilege Conference and reported back to the committee. This led to the Meeting’s endorsing a BFM Black Lives Matter witness along Arlington Road at the rise of Meeting in April and May of 2016. The response was heartening. The flier from that event is available here.

      Environmental Sustainability
      In 2016, the Peace & Social Justice Committee agreed to host the Environmental Sustainability Group. Because some of the most active participants did not consider themselves to be members of the P&SJ Committee, those interested in the topic decided to meet monthly and separately. Interest has grown and the group has set up a page on the BFM website that addresses environmental issues and concerns. One important step was BFM’s endorsement of the Quaker Environmental Statement.

      Ongoing Projects

      • Helping Refugees Group (HRG): In 2017, under the auspices of BFM's Peace & Social Justice Committee, a Helping Refugees Group developed a way to assist with local refugee programs. The result was to sponsor a refugee family under the auspices of Lutheran Social Services (LSS). During 2017 and continuing into the present, HRG volunteers (and others from BFM) participated in a variety of ways. For more information, please read their initial report to Meeting for Business.
      • BFM participates in the Olive Oil Ministry (with other local congregations) in support of Palestinian farmers and A Tent of Nations. We sell bottles of olive oil at BFM, and at least three other Quaker Meetings and Baltimore Yearly Meeting have joined the project.
      • Members of BFM have testified on behalf of Action in Montgomery’s efforts to increase affordable housing. Participation in AIM’s Action Day re after-school programs in December was significant.
      • BFM was well represented at the BYM Peace Networking Day at Sandy Spring in April 2016 and look forward to doing so again in the coming year.
      • BFM organized two opportunities to reflect on Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) priorities for the coming Congressional sessions.
      • Monthly educational series previously held at the Bethesda Public Library were sponsored by the P&SJ Committee.
      • We co-sponsor the Mary Jane Simpson fund (see "Monthly Social Concerns").
      • We hold seasonal service days at A Wider Circle.
      • We are a member congregation of the DMV Sanctuary Network, which "pledges to resist the newly elected administration’s policy proposals to target and deport millions of undocumented immigrants and discriminate against marginalized communities including those who are black, indigenous, Muslim, Latinx, and LGBTQ+."


      Financial support
      BFM supports a number of causes via our monthly social concerns donation box, as well as direct aid through our annual budget designations.
      Please click here to see the social concerns that BFM supports and how you can help with financial donations.

      Bethesda Friends Meeting

      Mailing Address:
      P.O. Box 30152, Bethesda MD 20824

      Our Meetinghouse is on the campus of the Sidwell Friends Lower School at the intersection of Edgemoor Lane and Beverly Road in Bethesda, Maryland

      We are a member organization of the Religious Society of Friends
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