From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Post-viability abortion policy unchanged

Date 30 May 2003 11:49:14 -0400

Note #7795 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Post-viability abortion policy unchanged

Post-viability abortion policy unchanged

Commissioners add expression of concern about lives of unborn

by Jerry L. Van Marter

DENVER, May 29 - After 45 minutes of restrained, civil debate, the 215th
General Assembly on Thursday adopted a statement on late-term abortion that
affirmed the action of last year's Assembly on the controversial subject, but
added a new expression of concern for the lives of the unborn.

	The final vote on the measure, which had been recommended by the
Assembly Committee on Health Issues, was 405-108. It came after a more
restrictive minority report was voted down, 205-315.

	Elder Ken Thorson, of the Presbytery of the James, the committee
moderator, told his fellow commissioners that the panel "came to appreciate
the 214th Assembly's work. The committee seeks to affirm that statement and
adds Biblical emphasis on the sanctity of life."

	That added emphasis came in the form of three sentences added to last
year's statement.

	The Assembly added the following near the top of the paper: "The
church  affirms the value of children and the importance of nurturing,
protecting and advocating their well-being. The church, therefore,
appreciates the challenge each woman and family face when issues of personal
well-being arise in the later stages of a pregnancy."

	The revised paper concludes with the third added sentence: "When it
is deemed necessary to end a pregnancy to protect the mother's life or health
in the later months of pregnancy, when the baby may be able to live outside
the womb, a procedure should be considered which gives both the mother and
the child the opportunity to live."

	The measure the commissioners approved preserves language stipulating
four circumstances under which post-viability abortion can be an acceptable
moral choice: "when necessary to save the life of the woman, to preserve the
woman's health in circumstances of a serious risk  to avoid fetal suffering
as a result of untreatable life-threatening medical anomalies, or in cases of
incest or rape."

	The committee voted down, 353-150, a motion to remove rape and incest
from the list of acceptable circumstances.

	The minority report didn't include any of those circumstances, and
said procedures should be "chosen," not "considered," in cases of termination
of post-viability pregnancy.

	The commissioners apparently were not persuaded by Alison Lucic, of
San Diego Presbytery, a youth advisory delegate, speaking in favor of the
minority report, who argued that "this is not a pro-life or pro-choice issue,
but counsels people to choose what is right."

	In other actions, the Assembly:

	* Rejected an overture that would have barred the Board of Pensions
from paying for late-term abortions without extensive additional red tape;

	* Overwhelmingly approved a review of the Presbyterian Health,
Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA) that affirms that the covenant
between the organization and the church's National Ministries Division is
working well. PHEWA has come under periodic criticism for not being
financially self-supporting, and for openly dissenting from the General
Assembly's policy prohibiting the ordination of non-celibate gays and

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