The U.S. Supreme Court ruling against a Nebraska law that banned so-called partial birth abortion has energized interreligious debate.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights, representing the pro-choice Protestant and Jewish denominations, charged that the restrictive laws are ''part of a religious extremist political agenda.''
The group defended ''a woman's moral right to make the best medical decision for herself, in light of her own religious convictions.''
But the Council on American-Islamic Relations considers the procedures to be infanticide, which the Koran forbids. It declared, ''It is astounding that the court would allow a doctor to pull a defenseless child from its mother's womb, pierce its skull and suck out its brains.''
The nation's two largest Christian bodies agreed. The Rev. Richard Land, the Southern Baptist Convention's spokesman on social issues, said the court's ''justification for infanticide'' ignored ''the will of the American people.''
And Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy's pro-life activities committee, found it ''inconceivable'' that the U.S. Constitution sanctions ''the brutal destruction of innocents almost fully delivered.''
A second end-of-term high court decision, allowing the Boy Scouts to bar avowed homosexuals as leaders, was approved by Catholic and Southern Baptist officials. They said private organizations must be free to set their own policies, standards and leadership.
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