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General Conference To Consider Partial-birth Abortion

An Initiative for Unborn Children

After the 1972 General Conference narrowly approved legalized abortion, the late Albert Outler, noted United Methodist theologian and ecumenist, observed the tragedy awaiting our church and society: "Without radical reform of the consultative process by which the UM Church pretends to determine serious moral and political questions, we shall go on becoming more and more a part of the problem (namely, the literal demoralization of modern society) and less a part of its Christian solution."

Twenty-eight years later, his words have become reality. Abortion has ushered in a culture of death instead of life, created division instead of unity, and promoted injustice for the most vulnerable members of the human family. Planned Parenthood reports that more than 90 percent of abortions are done for birth-control reasons—accounting for more than 1,440,000 abortions a year.

Redemptive ministry to abortion-vulnerable persons is the bright future that can end our present darkness, but we must care enough to address the abortion issue with justice and compassion for both the mother and the child.

Currently, our Book of Discipline states: "We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection." As United Methodists, we must now express our unequivocal opposition to the horrible procedure known as partial-birth abortion. This is the late-term procedure that involves delivering the torso and limbs of a live baby, puncturing its skull with surgical scissors in order to remove the brain, then completing the delivery of the now dead child. This is a procedure that has horrified the American public. Medical experts testify that this particular procedure is never medically necessary nor a requirement for women in troubled pregnancies.

As a General Conference, now is the time to set the record straight: There is no moral support for this grisly procedure. United Methodism should make it clear that we find this type of barbaric behavior inexcusable.

For many years now, our denomination has been used by political extremists. Using the good name of Women’s Division and the Board of Church and Society, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) has lobbied for issues such as taxpayer funded abortions and partial-birth abortions. That needs to end. Our church should not be used as a pawn by abortion extremists.

The official documents of our denomination need to reflect the careful and judicious discernment of the entire United Methodist Church, not professional abortion apologists. We need to encourage boards and churches to welcome abortion-vulnerable women, to offer life-saving resources, and to strengthen partnerships with maternity homes, and abortion-alternative centers.

For too long, we have put off this basic Christian calling of hospitality and justice for the vulnerable and weak. We have failed the gospel and those described in Scripture as the "least of these." The UM Church needs to become a sanctuary for those escaping abortion.

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