Thursday, 03 February 2005

Uniting Church calls for compassion and balance on abortion debate

In recent days there has been increasing discussion about abortion in the media. A number of persons have spoken on this matter. The President of the Uniting Church Assembly has today released a press statement that presents the Uniting Church position. The statement draws heavily on decisions taken previously by the Synods of NSW, Queensland, (as it then was) Victoria and Western Australia.

 

The Uniting Church believes that human life is God given from the beginning. We believe that all human beings are made in the image of God and that we are called to respect the sacredness of life.

We also believe Christians are called to respond to life with compassion and generosity.

When abortion is practised indiscriminately it damages respect for human life. However, we live in a broken world where people face difficult decisions. Respect for the sacredness of life means advocating for the needs of women as well as the unborn child.

We reject two extreme positions: that abortion should never be available; and that abortion should be regarded as simply another medical procedure.

It is not possible to hold one position that can be applied in every case because people’s circumstances will always be unique.

It is important that women have the space they need to make an appropriate decision after careful consideration. The current abortion laws allow women to do this in whatever circumstances they face.

Women must be free to discuss their situation before they make a decision. The Church needs to be a place where such discussion can happen. We can offer spiritual, moral and pastoral support to a woman at this time.

Whilst we encourage our Ministers to remind people of the sacredness of life, the Church’s role should be to offer care and support leading up to and following a decision, not stand in judgement.

The Uniting Church is disturbed that recent comments could imply that women make the decision to have an abortion without proper consideration. Most women who have abortions do so only after a great deal of searching and anguish. There are a range of well informed spiritual, medical and emotional support services available to women and it is offensive to imply that these decisions are made lightly or without access to suitable consultation.

The decision to have an abortion is not just a moral issue but a social one. While the current debate attempts to pass moral judgement on the act itself, it ignores the many emotional, physical, financial and social issues that often create a situation where a woman is forced to consider an abortion.

The Uniting Church hopes that those engaged in this debate do not lose sight of the complexity of the issues.

Rev. Dr Dean Drayton
President Uniting Church in Australia National Assembly

Rev. Drayton is available for interview on request