Petition 60698

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Abortion (60698-CB-ΒΆ161.J-G)

Amend ¶ 161.J of The Book of Discipline as follows:

J) Abortion—The beginning of life . . .

We recognize tragic conflicts of physical life with physical life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support . . .

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. This procedure shall be performed only by certified medical providers. Whenever the unborn child may be capable of surviving outside his or her mother's womb, every reasonable effort should be made to preserve both lives. Before providing their services, abortion providers should be required to offer women the option of anesthesia.

We call all Christians . . .

We mourn, and are committed to diminishing, high abortion rates. The Church shall encourage ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies such as comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education grounded in Christian teaching, advocacy in regard to contraception, and support of initiatives that enhance the quality of life for all women and girls around the globe.

Young adult women disproportionately face situations in which they feel they have no choice due to financial, educational, relational, or other circumstances beyond their control. The Church and its local congregations and campus ministries should be in the forefront of supporting existing ministries and developing new ministries that help such women in their communities. We particularly encourage the Church, the government, and social service agencies to support and facilitate the option of adoption as a generally preferable alternative to abortion. (See ¶ 161.L) We affirm and encourage the Church to assist the ministry of crisis pregnancy centers and pregnancy resource centers that compassionately help women find feasible alternatives to abortion.

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, family, pastoral, and other appropriate counsel. (The Book of Discipline, 2012)

Rationale

The current wording of ¶ 161.J has been treated by some United Methodists as a means for one-sidedly advocating for public policies advancing elective abortion. These amendments to ¶ 161.J would more clearly align our church with biblical, historic Christian teaching that defends unborn children and their mothers from abortion.

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