From the Worldwide Faith News archives

GA adopts late-term abortion statement

Date 21 Jun 2002 16:11:27 -0400

Note #7321 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:


GA adopts late-term abortion statement 

Paper lists situations in which such abortions might be permissible 

by Evan Silverstein

COLUMBUS, OH - The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) approved a statement on late-term abortions on June 21 that includes a list of situations in which such abortions might be permissible.

The statement, which was approved by the Assembly Committee on Health and Social Issues, is not a new policy on abortion, post-viability or partial-birth abortions, but a compilation of prior Assembly policy statements and a refinement of earlier policies, which over the years have been modified, most substantially in 1992.

Commissioners approved the statement 394-112-4 after voting down a minority report.

The late-term abortion statement was the product of two years of work by the Presbyterian Church (USA) Advisory Committee on Litigation and the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP). It was originally a response to a referral by 2000 Assembly. The 2001 Assembly also referred two overtures regarding late-term abortion to the committees.

The amended portion of the list of situations in which a late-term abortion may be warranted states:

"The ending of a pregnancy after the point of fetal viability is a matter of grave moral concern to us all, and may be undertaken only in the rarest of circumstances and after prayer and/or pastoral care and when necessary to save the life of the woman, to preserve the woman's health in circumstances of a serious risk to the woman's health, to avoid fetal suffering as a result of untreatable, life-threatening medical anomalies, or in cases of incest or rape."

The General Assembly also:

* Answered with the report on late-term abortion an overture (02-37) from Huntingdon Presbytery that asked the Assembly to make a statement about protecting the lives of mothers and babies late in pregnancy;

* Disapproved with comment an overture from Redstone Presbytery (02-48), which sought to keep the Board of Pensions (BOP) from paying for late-term abortions. The comment refers to the GA "relief of conscience" policy, through which churches can have their dues to the board set aside and not used to pay for abortions;

* Approved a recommendation on an overture (02-52) from Donegal Presbytery, pertaining to pastoral resources for women who have experienced abortion. 
The action instructs the Office of Theology and Worship to prepare in conversation with other PC(USA) related groups, including Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options (PARO), the Presbyterian Association of Specialized and Pastoral Ministries (PASPM), the Advocacy Committee for Women's Concerns (ACWC), Presbyterians Pro-Life, ACSWP and other groups, "pastoral resources for Presbyterian congregations that are based on the knowledge that there are women and men in our local churches who suffer from adverse spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical effects of abortion and are in need of the compassionate and restorative ministry of the gospel."
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