The United Methodist Church on Abortion

The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born.

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. We call all Christians to a searching and prayerful inquiry into the sorts of conditions that may warrant abortion. We commit our Church to continue to provide nurturing ministries to those who terminate a pregnancy, to those in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, and to those who give birth. We particularly encourage the Church, the government, and social service agencies to support and facilitate the option of adoption. (See ¶ 161.K.)

Governmental laws and regulations do not provide all the guidance required by the informed Christian conscience. Therefore, a decision concerning abortion should be made only after thoughtful and prayerful consideration by the parties involved, with medical, pastoral, and other appropriate counsel.

From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church - 2004. Copyright 2004 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.

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Post By Joel Watts (10,074 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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3 thoughts on The United Methodist Church on Abortion

  1. This is the most difficult part of the BOD for me to swallow. Abortion is unacceptable to me and like many issues within the UMC, the fence is straddled. The fact is, almost every abortion, statistically speaking, is performed for birth control purposes. So, to continue to affirm the legal right to abortion, even regrettably, is to basically affirm abortion as birth control. It may not be what you want, but you end up in the same place.

  2. It does depend on who you ask. It gets broken down in different ways in different studies. For instance, if you read Guttmacher (Planned Patenthood’s research arm) they have tins of different categories. Education interference, delaying childbearing, too young, can’t afford a child, etc….those, along with many others, are categories I consider birth control. I don’t nuance this issue into oblivion! If it’s not for physical health, then let’s level…it’s birth control. Most stats generally put physical health of the mother at a pretty low %. It’s usually around 1 – 3%.

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