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Policy statements about abortion access

Statements by religious groups:
Salvation Army to United Methodists

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The Salvation Army:

In an undated statement, the Salvation Army writes:

"The Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of all human life and considers each person to be of infinite value and each life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and redeemed. Human life is sacred because it is made in the image of God and has an eternal destiny. (Genesis 1:27) Sacredness is not conferred, nor can it be taken away by human agreement."

"The Salvation Army deplores society's ready acceptance of abortion, which reflects insufficient concern for vulnerable persons, including the unborn. (Psalms 82:3-4)"

"The Salvation Army holds to the Christian ideals of chastity before marriage and fidelity within the marriage relationship and, consistent with these ideals, supports measures to prevent crisis pregnancies. It is opposed to abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection or for any reason of mere convenience to avoid the responsibility for conception. Therefore, when an unwanted pregnancy occurs, The Salvation Army advises that the situation be accepted and that the pregnancy be carried to term, and offers supportive help and assistance with planning."

"The Salvation Army recognizes tragic and perplexing circumstances that require difficult decisions regarding a pregnancy. Such decisions should be made only after prayerful and thoughtful consideration, with appropriate involvement of the woman's family and pastoral, medical and other counsel. A woman in these circumstances needs acceptance, love and compassion."

"When an abortion has taken place, The Salvation Army will continue to show love and compassion and to offer its services and fellowship to those involved." 1

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Southern Baptist Convention (SBC):

The SBC is the second largest Christian denomination in the U.S. and the largest Protestant denomination. They have consistently been pro-life and opposed to abortion access. As of 2007-APR, their most recent statement on abortion access is a resolution titled "On thirty years of Roe v. Wade" passed at their 2003-JUN convention. It refers to the battle between fundamentalist and moderate forces within the SBC that was won by the fundamentalists. It states:

WHEREAS, Scripture reveals that all human life is created in the image of God, and therefore sacred to our Creator (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 9:6); and
WHEREAS, The Bible affirms that the unborn baby is a person bearing the image of God from the moment of conception (Psalm 139:13–16; Luke 1:44); and
WHEREAS, Scripture further commands the people of God to plead for protection for the innocent and justice for the fatherless (Psalm 72:12–14; Psalm 82:3; James 1:27); and
WHEREAS, January 2003 marked thirty years since the 1973 United States Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion in all fifty states; and
WHEREAS, Resolutions passed by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1971 and 1974 accepted unbiblical premises of the abortion rights movement, forfeiting the opportunity to advocate the protection of defenseless women and children; and
WHEREAS, During the early years of the post-Roe era, some of those then in leadership positions within the denomination endorsed and furthered the “pro-choice” abortion rights agenda outlined in Roe v. Wade; and
WHEREAS, Some political leaders have referenced 1970s-era Southern Baptist Convention resolutions and statements by former Southern Baptist Convention leaders to oppose legislative efforts to protect women and children from abortion; and
WHEREAS, Southern Baptist churches have effected a renewal of biblical orthodoxy and confessional integrity in our denomination, beginning with the Southern Baptist Convention presidential election of 1979; and
WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention has maintained a robust commitment to the sanctity of all human life, including that of the unborn, beginning with a landmark pro-life resolution in 1982; and
WHEREAS, Our confessional statement, The Baptist Faith and Message, affirms that children “from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord”; and further affirms that Southern Baptists are mandated by Scripture to “speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death”; and
WHEREAS, The legacy of Roe v. Wade has grown to include ongoing assaults on human life such as euthanasia, the harvesting of human embryos for the purposes of medical experimentation, and an accelerating move toward human cloning; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 17–18, 2003, reiterate our conviction that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was based on a fundamentally flawed understanding of the United States Constitution, human embryology, and the basic principles of human rights; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we reaffirm our belief that the Roe v. Wade decision was an act of injustice against innocent unborn children as well as against vulnerable women in crisis pregnancy situations, both of which have been victimized by a “sexual revolution” that empowers predatory and irresponsible men and by a lucrative abortion industry that has fought against even the most minimal restrictions on abortion; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we offer our prayers, our love, and our advocacy for women and men who have been abused by abortion and the emotional, spiritual, and physical aftermath of this horrific practice; affirming that the gospel of Jesus Christ grants complete forgiveness for any sin, including that of abortion; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we lament and renounce statements and actions by previous Conventions and previous denominational leadership that offered support to the abortion culture; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we humbly confess that the initial blindness of many in our Convention to the enormity of Roe v. Wade should serve as a warning to contemporary Southern Baptists of the subtlety of the spirit of the age in obscuring a biblical worldview; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we urge our Southern Baptist churches to remain vigilant in the protection of human life by preaching the whole counsel of God on matters of human sexuality and the sanctity of life, by encouraging and empowering Southern Baptists to adopt unwanted children, by providing spiritual, emotional, and financial support for women in crisis pregnancies, and by calling on our government officials to take action to protect the lives of women and children; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we express our appreciation to both houses of Congress for their passage of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, and we applaud President Bush for his commitment to sign this bill into law; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we urge Congress to act swiftly to deliver this bill to President Bush for his signature; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we pray and work for the repeal of the Roe v. Wade decision and for the day when the act of abortion will be not only illegal, but also unthinkable. 2

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Unitarian Universalist Association:

The General Assembly of the UUA has passed a series of resolutions between 1968 and 1993 which affirm their belief that women should have free access to abortions:

bullet1968:
"BE IT RESOLVED: That the 1968 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalists Association urges that efforts be made to abolish existing abortion laws except to prohibit performance of an abortion by a person who is not a duly licensed physician, leaving the decision as to an abortion to the doctor and his patient."
bullet1977:
"WHEREAS, attempts are now being made to deny Medicaid funds for abortion and to enact Constitutional Amendments that would limit abortions to life-endangering situations and thus remove this decision from the individual and her physician; and...
WHEREAS, we affirm the right of each woman to make the decisions concerning her own body and future and we stress the responsibilities and long-term commitment involved in the choice of parenthood;...

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the 1977 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association expresses its dismay and regret at the June 20, 1977 decision of the Supreme Court as seriously jeopardizing the right of legal abortion won in the Supreme Court decisions of January, 1973; opposes the denial of Medicaid funds for abortion and any Constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion and urges members of the societies of the Unitarian Universalist Association to write or wire their senators and representatives in Congress and state legislatures to inform them of our position on these issues."

bullet1993:
"THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Unitarian Universalists in the United States be urged to promote passage of federal legislation to:
  1. guarantee the fundamental right of individual choice in reproductive matters;
  2. require that counseling agencies receiving federal funds provide information about pregnancy options, including abortions;
  3. provide federal funds to make abortion available to women of low income and to women in the armed services;
  4. ensure the provision of abortion services for all women within a national health program;
  5. protect medical personnel who supply abortion services, and their families, from harassment and intimidation; and
  6. guarantee unrestricted access to counseling and abortion services, regardless of age, class, race, or situation, without curtailing peaceful protest." 3

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United Church of Christ:

This the most liberal of the large Protestant denominations. The Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ issued a statement on 1996-MAY which said, in part:

"The directorate of the UCC's social action office first addressed the abortion issue in 1970, affirming freedom of choice for women, calling for church action supporting the repeal of overly restrictive abortion legislation and encouraging the expansion of sex education programs.  Freedom of choice in reproductive matters was first affirmed by the General Synod in 1971 and has been reaffirmed in one way or another by several General Synods since." 4

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United Methodist Church:

This is another mainline denomination whose membership is split over abortion access. The "Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church" states, in part:

"Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother, for whom devastating damage may result from an unacceptable pregnancy. In continuity with past Christian teaching, we recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection.

We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when 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....a decision concerning abortion should be made only after thoughtful and prayerful consideration by the parties involved, with medical, pastoral, and other appropriate counsel." 5

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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. "Abortion," The Salvation Army, USA, at: http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/
  2. "On Thirty Years Of Roe V. Wade," Southern Baptist Convention, 2003-JUN, at: http://www.sbc.net/
  3. "Unitarian Universalist Association: Actions, Resolutions & Resources" has a search facility that found 9 documents on their web site that discuss abortion. See: http://www.uua.org/
  4. Hans Holznagel, "HR 1833 and the United Church of Christ," at: http://www.wfn.org/
  5. "The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church--2004: Abortion," at: http://archives.umc.org/

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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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