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Policy statements about abortion access

Statements by secular, medical
and ethical/spiritual groups

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American Academy of Pediatrics:

The Academy conducted an opinion survey among a random sample of its membership in 1991. The margin of error would have been about Ī3% percentage points:

The majority of members surveyed (56.7%) favored access to abortion for adolescents for all the reasons identified in the questionnaire; 35.4% believed abortion should clearly be restricted in some circumstances, and 7.0% believed adolescents should not have access to abortion under any circumstances. For each individual reason for abortion, at least 60% of the membership believed adolescents should have access to abortion services. In addition, most pediatricians supported legal positions that would facilitate access to abortion services for adolescents. Urban, female, and nonóself-employed pediatricians were slightly more likely to support access to abortion by adolescents than comparison groups. 1

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American Medical Association:

bulletStatement H-5.990: Abortion: "The issue of support of or opposition to abortion is a matter for members of the AMA to decide individually, based on personal values or beliefs. The AMA will take no action which may be construed as an attempt to alter or influence the personal views of individual physicians regarding abortion procedures." 2
bulletStatement H-5.995: Abortion: "Our AMA reaffirms that:
  1. abortion is a medical procedure and should be performed only by a duly licensed physician and surgeon in conformance with standards of good medical practice and the Medical Practice Act of his state; and
  2. no physician or other professional personnel shall be required to perform an act violative of good medical judgment. Neither physician, hospital, nor hospital personnel shall be required to perform any act violative of personally held moral principles. In these circumstances, good medical practice requires only that the physician or other professional withdraw from the case, so long as the withdrawal is consistent with good medical practice." 3

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Australian Medical Association:

Their revised statement on "Termination of Pregnancy" issued on 2005-NOV-07 states:

  1. The AMA respects the rights of doctors to hold differing views regarding termination of pregnancy.
  2. Where the law permits termination of pregnancy, the procedure and the associated anaesthesia should, as with any other medical intervention, be performed by appropriately trained medical practitioners, in premises approved by a recognised health standards authority.
  3. Where the law permits termination of pregnancy, non-surgical forms of termination (such as RU486/mifepristone) should be made available as an alternative to surgical abortion in cases where they are medically deemed to be the safest and most appropriate option based on the appropriate clinical assessment.
  4. It is the doctor's responsibility to provide patients with information regarding the potential health risks and psychological consequences which can arise from continuation of and termination of pregnancy. 4

On 2005-AUG-15, Dr. Mukesh Haikerwal, the AMA president, said:

"The AMA is concerned that a situation could arise where doctors could be compromising patient care for fear of legal repercussions."

"Any decision on abortion is between the doctor and patient.¬†¬†There is no place for third parties Ė governments, over-zealous politicians and lawyers, hospital committees, or even the spectre of legal action."

"The decision for late term abortion is not made lightly by women or the doctors who care for them."

"Doctors need to be working in a safe and clear legal environment.  It is not acceptable for doctors and their patients to not know what is required for an abortion to be considered legal.

""Australia urgently needs uniform national legislation on abortion so that access to services is safe and equitable for all Australian women" 5

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Girl's Incorporated:

Girl's Incorporated promote a group of civil rights that they call the "Girls' Bill of Rights." The Girl's Incorporated Council has adopted a series of advocacy statements in support of each right The fourth of six rights states that: "Girls have the right to accept and appreciate their bodies."  The statement associated with this right states:

"To make responsible decisions about sexuality, pregnancy and parenthood, girls need and have a right to sensitive, truthful sexuality education; convenient access to safe, effective methods of contraception and protection from disease; and referral to comprehensive information, counseling, clinical and other services that support their responsible decisions. ..."

"Girls Incorporated affirms that girls and young women should make responsible decisions about sexuality, pregnancy and parenthood."

"We recognize the right of all women to choose whether, when, and under what circumstances to bear children. Reproductive freedom and responsibility are essential to other rights and opportunities, including pursuit of education, employment, financial security and a stable and fulfilling family life. Restrictions of reproductive choice are especially burdensome for young women and poor women. Girls Incorporated supports a womanís freedom of choice, a constitutional right established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 in Roe vs. Wade."

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The League of Women Voters:

In their document: "Public Policy on Reproductive Choices," the League listed dozens of activities from 1983 until 2004 in which they promoted the pro-choice cause. They supported or opposed bills in Congress and state legislatures. They filed amicus curiae briefs to courts. The co-sponsored the March for Women's Lives, etc. Their document states:

"The League has joined with other pro-choice organizations in continuous opposition to restrictions on the right of privacy in reproductive choices ... "

"The League was a cosponsor of the March for Womenís Lives held in Washington, D.C. on April 25, 2004. The March demonstrated widespread support for the right to make reproductive choices and included many delegations of state and local Leagues." 7

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Life Dynamics:

Their "About us" page states:

"We're not here just to put up a good fight. We're here to win, because winning is how the killing stops."

"As an anti-abortion pro-life organization, we fight to change the abortion picture - to end legal abortion and return the right to life to unborn babies from the moment of conception. Our motto is, 'Pro-Life: without compromise, without exception, without apology'." 8

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NARAL Pro-Choice America:

While it's critical to promote policies that help prevent unintended pregnancies and make abortion less necessary, NARAL Pro-Choice America also fights to protect the right to safe, legal abortion.

"In 1973, the Supreme Court guaranteed American women the right to choose abortion in its landmark decision Roe v. Wade. In Roe, the Court issued a compromise between the state's ability to restrict abortion and a woman's right to choose." 9

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National Right to Life:

Their mission statement says, in part:

"The National Right to Life Committee has been instrumental in achieving a number of legislative reforms at the national level, including a ban on non-therapeutic experimentation of unborn and newborn babies, a federal conscience clause guaranteeing medical personnel the right to refuse to participate in abortion procedures, and various amendments to appropriations bills which prohibit (or limit) the use of federal funds to subsidize or promote abortions in the United States and overseas."

"The ultimate goal of the National Right to Life Committee is to restore legal protection to innocent human life. The primary interest of the National Right to Life Committee and its members has been the abortion controversy; however, it is also concerned with related matters of medical ethics which relate to the right to life issues of euthanasia and infanticide. The Committee does not have a position on issues such as contraception, sex education, capital punishment, and national defense."

"In addition to maintaining a lobbying presence at the federal level, NRLC serves as a clearinghouse of information for its state affiliates and local chapters, its individual members, the press, and the public." 10

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Priests for Life:

This is an organization of Roman Catholic priests under the leadership of Fr. Frank Pavone. They do not have a separate statement on abortion available on their web site. However, they do refer visitors to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It says, in part:

2270 "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person -- among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. ..."

2271 "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law. ..."

"Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes."

2272 "Formal co-operation in an abortion constitutes a grave offence. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. ..."

2273 "The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:"

"The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. ... Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.' ..."

"As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights."

2274 "Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being. Prenatal diagnosis is morally licit, 'if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human foetus and is directed toward its safeguarding or healing as an individual... It is gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence'." 11

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Safe Motherhood Inter-Agency Group:

This group declared 1998 the "Year of Safe Motherhood. It involved United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children's Fund, the World Health Organization, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the Population Council, and the Family Care International declared 1998 the "Year of Safe Motherhood."

Their call to action included the following:

bulletInternational aid agencies are urged to provide overseas assistance to programs that promote maternal care as an essential component of reproductive health services.
bulletGovernments of developing countries are urged to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity by developing and implementing health, nutrition and education programs that promote the health of pregnant women and their infants.
bulletCorporations around the world are urged to encourage governments and private organizations in host countries to provide funds and develop programs that foster safe motherhood, and to support safe motherhood among their employees and customers.
bulletWomen, men and families everywhere are urged to demand and seek quality prenatal and obstetric care to ensure that no woman dies or suffers long-term complications from childbirth.

The term "reproductive health services" is often interpreted as referring to safe, legal, abortions in addition to many other services. They noted that about 100,000 women died each year from unsafe abortions. They advocated "Services to prevent and manage the complications of unsafe abortions." 12

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YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association):

In their 2003-NOV position paper "Unwavering Support for Reproductive Rights," the YWCA stated:

"The YWCA of the USA has an unwavering commitment to reproductive rights for women. The YWCA of the USA adopted a ďfreedom of choiceĒ position in 1967 at the YWCA National Convention following an extensive debate by the nearly 1,000 delegates from local associations all over the country. All viewpoints were thoughtfully considered before the decision was made. This position was reaffirmed at the 1988 national convention and remains an important part of the comprehensive YWCA public policy agenda. ..."

"For almost four decades the YWCA has been an advocate for reproductive rights and freedoms. In 1989, the YWCA was at the forefront of pro-choice demonstrations in Washington. In 1990, when attacks were made on many corporations by the Christian Action Council because of their support of Planned Parenthood, the YWCA wrote supportive letters to the corporations. In 1991, when defense appropriations tried to limit abortions for women in the military, YWCAs wrote letters of protest. In the 1980's and 1990's when administrations sought to limit international aid funding to countries which provide abortion services, the YWCA wrote and called congressional representatives asking removal of this provision from the funding bills." 13

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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. Gretchen V. Fleming PhD and Karen G. O'Connor, "Adolescent Abortion: Views of the Membership of the American Academy of Pediatrics," Pediatrics, 2002-SEP017, at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/
  2. "H-5.990 Policy on Abortion," American Medical Association, at: http://www.ama-assn.org/
  3. "H-5.995 Policy on Abortion," American Medical Association, at: http://www.ama-assn.org/
  4. "AMA Supports Use of RU-486 for Termination of Pregnancy," Australian Medical Association, 2005-NOV-07, at: http://www.ama.com.au
  5. "Australia Needs Consistent Uniform National Abortion Laws To Protect Women and Doctors," Australian Medical Association, 2005-AUG-15, at: http://www.ama.com.au
  6. "Girls have the right to accept and appreciate their bodies," Girl's Inc., at: http://www.girlsinc.org/
  7. "Public Policy on Reproductive Choices," League of Women Voters, at: http://www.lwv.org/
  8. "About Life Dynamics," at: http://www.lifedynamics.com/
  9. "Issues: Abortion," NARAL, at: http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/
  10. "Mission Statement," National Right to Life, at: http://www.nrlc.org/
  11. "Excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on Life, Abortion, and Euthanasia (#2258-2262; 2268-2279)," Priests for Life, at: http://www.priestsforlife.org/
  12. "1998 'Year of Safe Motherhood'," Africa Action, at: http://www.africaaction.org/
  13. "Unwavering Support for Reproductive Rights," YWCA, 2003-NOV, at: http://www.ywca.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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