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Policy statements about abortion access

Statements by religious groups:
American Baptists to Roman Catholics

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Sponsored link.

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American Baptist Churches USA:

They passed the following resolution in 1987 and updated it in 1994:

"Recognizing this gift of life, we find ourselves struggling with the painful and difficult issue of abortion. Genuine diversity of opinion threatens the unity of our fellowship, but the nature of the covenant demands mutual love and respect. Together, we must seek the mind of Christ.

As American Baptists we oppose abortion,

bulletas a means of avoiding responsibility for conception,
bulletas a primary means of birth control,
bulletwithout regard for the far-reaching consequences of the act.

We denounce irresponsible sexual behavior and acts of violence that contribute to the large number of abortions each year.

We grieve with all who struggle with the difficult circumstances that lead them to consider abortion. Recognizing that each person is ultimately responsible to God, we encourage men and women in these circumstances to seek spiritual counsel as they prayerfully and conscientiously consider their decision.

We condemn violence and harassment directed against abortion clinics, their staff and clients, as well as sanctions and discrimination against medical professionals whose consciences prevent them from being involved in abortions." 1

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Assemblies of God:

This is a fundamentalist Pentecostal denomination.

"The Assemblies of God is unashamedly pro-life. Even though a United States Supreme Court decision legalized abortion in 1973, abortion is still immoral and sinful. This stand is founded on the biblical truth that all human life is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). From that truth issues the long-standing Christian view that aborting the life of a developing child is evil."

"Those who defend abortion claim that an unborn child in the early stages of development is merely fetal tissue, not a person. But neither science nor medicine can declare an arbitrary time during pregnancy when human life begins. The Bible indicates that human life begins at conception (Job 31:15, Psalm 139:13-16). Because of the sacredness of human life, the matter is settled by theological statement of Scripture, not by a medical determination of viability outside the mother’s womb."

"There is a Christian alternative to abortion. Instead of terminating the life of the unborn child, the newborn can be placed for adoption by loving Christians. Adoption is a concept authored by God, for all Christian believers have been adopted into the family of God. By choosing to give birth to her baby rather than having an abortion, the birth mother spares the life of a child created in the image of God." 2

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Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. LDS Church, & Mormons):

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement in 1973:

"The Church opposes abortion and counsels its members not to submit to or perform an abortion except in the rare cases where, in the opinion of competent medical counsel, the life or good health of the mother is seriously endangered or where the pregnancy was caused by rape and produces serious emotional trauma in the mother. Even then it should be done only after counseling with the local presiding priesthood authority and after receiving divine confirmation through prayer.

"Abortion must be considered one of the most revolting and sinful practices in this day, when we are witnessing the frightening evidence of permissiveness leading to sexual immorality."

"Members of the Church guilty of being parties to the sin of abortion must be subjected to the disciplinary action of the councils of the Church as circumstances warrant. In dealing with this serious matter, it would be well to keep in mind the word of the Lord stated in the 59th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 6, “Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it." [D&C 59:6] 3

Unlike most or all other conservative Christian denominations, the Mormon Church has since liberalized their stance on abortion. More details

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Eastern Orthodox churches:

"...the Church very clearly and absolutely condemns it as an act of murder in every case. If a woman is with child, she must allow it to be born. In regard to all of the very difficult cases, such as a young girl being raped or a mother who is certain to die, the consensus of Orthodox opinion would be that a decision for abortion might possibly be made, but that it can in no way be easily justified as morally righteous, and that persons making such a decision must repent of it and count on the mercy of God. It must be very clear as well that abortion employed for human comfort or to stop what a contraceptive method failed to prevent, is strictly considered by the canon laws of the Church to be a crime equal to murder." 4

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Episcopal Church, USA (Anglican)

bullet1998: 69th General Convention:

"All human life is sacred from its inception until death. The Church takes seriously its obligation to help form the consciences of its members concerning this sacredness....We regard all abortion as having a tragic dimension, calling for the concern and compassion of all the Christian community. While we acknowledge that in this country it is the legal right of every woman to have a medically safe abortion, as Christians we believe strongly that if this right is exercised, it should be used only in extreme situations. We emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience."

bullet1994: 71st General Convention, Resolution A054:

"... We regard all abortion as having a tragic dimension, calling for the concern and compassion of all the Christian community."

"While we acknowledge that in this country it is the legal right of every woman to have a medically safe abortion, as Christians we believe strongly that if this right is exercised, it should be used only in extreme situations. We emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience."

"In those cases where an abortion is being considered, members of this Church are urged to seek the dictates of their conscience in prayer, to seek the advice and counsel of members of the Christian community and where appropriate, the sacramental life of this Church."

"Whenever members of this Church are consulted with regard to a problem pregnancy, they are to explore, with grave seriousness, with the person or persons seeking advice and counsel, as alternatives to abortion, other positive courses of action, including, but not limited to, the following possibilities: the parents raising the child; another family member raising the child; making the child available for adoption. ..."

"Resolved, That this 71st General Convention (1994) of the Episcopal Church express its unequivocal opposition to any legislative, executive or judicial action on the part of local, state or nation governments that abridges the right of a woman to reach an informed decision about the termination of pregnancy or that would limit the access of a woman to safe means of acting on her decision." 5

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Sponsored link:

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Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA):

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is the largest denomination in the liberal wing of the Lutheranism in the U.S. The word "Evangelical" in the name of the denomination does not imply that the ELCA is an evangelical church in the American meaning of the term. Their name is derived from the German meaning of the word, which corresponds to Protestantism.

The Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA adopted a statement on abortion in 1991-SEP. The following are excerpts from their statement:

"Induced abortion, the act of intentionally terminating a developing life in the womb, is one of the issues about which members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have serious differences. These differences are also found within society."

"Differences hold promise or peril. Our differences are deep and potentially divisive. However, they are also a gift that can lead us into constructive conversation about our faith and its implications for our life in the world. ..."

"... A developing life in the womb does not have an absolute right to be born, nor does a pregnant woman have an absolute right to terminate a pregnancy. The concern for both the life of the woman and the developing life in her womb expresses a common commitment to life. This requires that we move beyond the usual 'pro-life' versus 'pro-choice' language in discussing abortion. ..."

"Abortion ought to be an option only of last resort. Therefore, as a church we seek to reduce the need to turn to abortion as the answer to unintended pregnancies."

"Because of the Christian presumption to preserve and protect life, this church, in most circumstances, encourages women with unintended pregnancies to continue the pregnancy. ..."

"This church encourages and seeks to support adoption as a positive option to abortion."

"This church recognizes that there can be sound reasons for ending a pregnancy through induced abortion. ..."

In reflecting ethically on what should be done in the case of an unintended pregnancy, consideration should be given to the status and condition of the life in the womb. We also need to consider the conditions under which the pregnancy occurred and the implications of the pregnancy for the woman's life. 6

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Judaism

This is discussed in a separate essay.

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Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (LCMS):

The LCMS is the largest denomination in the conservative wing of the Lutheranism in the U.S.

A. L. Barry, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, has written:

"Our church's explanation of the Small Catechism puts the matter well when it says, 'The living but unborn are persons in the sight of God from the time of conception. Since abortion takes a human life, it is not a moral option except to prevent the death of another person, the mother.' The sin of willfully aborting a child, except in those very rare situations where it may be necessary to save the life of the mother, is a sinful act, totally contrary to the will of God."

The statement later condemns abortions done in pregnancies caused by of rape or incest:

"While the emotional arguments for abortion in these situations might seem compelling, the fact of the matter is that it is wrong to take the life of one innocent victim (the unborn child), and further burden the life of the other victim of these horrible situations, the mother. It is indeed a strange logic that would have us kill an innocent unborn baby for the crime of his father." 7

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Presbyterian Church (USA):

The Presbyterian Church (USA), like most mainline denominations, is seriously divided between internal conservative and liberal movements. This division surfaces in the form of debates over many topics related to human sexuality -- mainly over equal rights for lesbians and gays, gay and lesbian ordination, female ordination, and abortion. Since 1983, there has been at least one abortion-related overture (resolution) at most General Assemblies. The 213th General Assembly (2001) had four. A background report designated for journalists and other guests visiting the General Assembly (2001) stated:

"While the PC(USA)’s policy is still basically pro-choice, it opposes abortion as a means of birth control and gender selection, affirms adoption as a preferable alternative to abortion in cases of unwanted children, and, by action of the 1997 Assembly, calls the 'intact dilation and extraction' procedure – commonly called 'partial birth abortion' – a 'matter of grave moral concern.' In short, the policy states, abortion should be the choice of last resort in cases of problem pregnancy." 8

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Roman Catholic Church:

The Roman Catholic Church has a total ban on abortion and seeks to influence legislators to criminalize abortion in those countries where most citizens are Catholics. As of 2007-MAY-10, the pope's most recent statement was a talk in Portuguese to a gathering of Catholics in Brazil. He said that he was certain that the Brazilian bishops will reinforce:

bullet"... the promotion of respect or life from the moment of conception until natural death as an integral requirement of human nature." 9

See a separate essay for the historical and current position of the Church. See also excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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References used in the above essay:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "American Baptist resolution concerning abortion and ministry in the local church," American Baptist Churches USA, 1987, at: http://www.abc-usa.org/
  2. "Assemblies of God Beliefs: Abortion:," at: http://www.ag.org/
  3. "Policies and Procedures: Statement on Abortion," LDS, at: http://www.lds.org/
  4. "What We Believe In," Item 19, Moyana, at: http://www.moyana.org/
  5. "Reaffirm General Convention Statement on Childbirth and Abortion," at: http://www.episcopalarchives.org/
  6. "Social Statements: Abortion," Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, at: http://www.elca.org/
  7. A. L. Barry , "What About Abortion?," The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, at: http://www.lifeoftheworld.com/
  8. "General Assembly backgrounder: Abortion," PC(USA), 2001-MAY-8, at: http://www.pcusa.org/
  9. "Pope reaffirms ban on abortion," Associated Press, published in the Toronto Star, 2007-MAY-10, Page A14.

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Copyright © 2001 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-NOV-16-
Latest update: 2007-MAY-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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