from the ELCA advocacy office in Washington, D.C.
– The Rev. Amy E. Reumann, Senior Director, ELCA Witness in Society
Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: July/August 2022
AUGUSTA VICTORIA HOSPITAL FUNDING: President Joe Biden visited Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) on July 15 as part of a two-day presidential visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. While there, the president announced a $100 million multiyear commitment toward the East Jerusalem Hospital Network (EJHN), of which AVH is a member. Use the Action Alert from ELCA Peace Not Walls to urge support by members of Congress of the president’s commitment by voting to appropriate at least $100 million to support the work of AVH and other East Jerusalem hospitals.
Biden’s visit to the hospital was the first visit of a sitting U.S. president to East Jerusalem. In her thank you letter to the president for his visit, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton said that many “found our hope for peace with justice in the Holy Land bolstered by your visit last week in support of the East Jerusalem Hospital Network. AVH is the first and only hospital to provide radiation therapy for cancer patients in the Palestinian territories and the only medical facility in the West Bank offering pediatric kidney dialysis. AVH faces ongoing cash flow problems as a result of the inability of the Palestinian Authority to pay on a regular basis the fees for cancer patients it refers to the hospital.
BORDER ENCOUNTERS: The tragic deaths of 53 migrants abandoned in the trailer of a semi-truck in San Antonio, Texas on June 27 was decried in a statement, which included the ELCA Southwestern Texas Synod, as a painful example of what happens when migrants seek dangerous alternatives to migrate. The ELCA continues to advocate for a dignified and humane process at the border.
The public health order known as Title 42 has been in place since March 2020, sealing away a path for most people fleeing personal danger or persecution who arrive at the southern border to legally request asylum. The number of encounters with migrants at the U.S. southwest border has continued to be high and includes migrants from around the world. Our, a nation’s policy response can strengthen the economic resiliency of the nation and neighborhoods, keep families together, and generously respond to the needs of our neighbors.
SUPREME COURT ABORTION RULING: Following the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v Jackson, which removes the federal protections previously provided by Roe v Wade, Bishop Eaton issued a pastoral message. Several ELCA affiliated state public policy offices are working with synods to monitor and update state legislation related to reproductive health.
Faith Action Network in Washington, for example, recommitted to advocating for equitable policies regarding reproductive health in their statement. Others, like Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania (LAMPa) have been working closely with the synod bishops in the state to keep people informed. Bishops across Pennsylvania posted on Facebook, sharing Bishop Eaton’s statement and committing to working closely with LAMPa to monitor and advocate on state policy development as updates are available.
USE OF LANDMINES: The Biden administration announced changes to the U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine policy, “joining the vast majority of countries around the world in committing to limit the use of anti-personnel landmines.” In January 2020, the Trump administration reversed 2014 policy by the Obama administration that had unequivocally banned U.S. production and acquisition of antipersonnel landmines.
ELCA advocacy is encouraged by changes and will continue to monitor developments. Reporting in June 2022 following a site visit in northern Ukraine described the impression by Lutheran World Federation visitors was described as: “Landmines, destroyed infrastructure, traumatized people.”
BIPARTISAN GUN LEGISLATION: President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a historic gun safety, mental health, and school safety bill. Our office issued an action alert in June encouraging Lutherans to urge passage of this bi-partisan compromise. The need for future gun safety advocacy remains.
The legislation passed by strong bipartisan majorities in both the U.S. Senate and House, and it is the first major federal gun safety law to pass Congress in nearly 26 years.