As a woman, as a feminist, and as a pastor, I am disgusted, saddened, and angered that women’s rights to their own bodies are being stripped away (in Texas) by people who say they are acting according to their Christian values. Just to be clear, what’s happening in Texas is a political act, not a christian act. Christians are divided on the issue of abortion.
Below are important points for Presbyterians (PCUSA).
According to the Presbyterian Mission Agency website, “Presbyterians have struggled with the issue of abortion for more than 30 years, beginning in 1970 when the General Assembly, the national governing body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), declared that, “The artificial or induced termination of a pregnancy is a matter of careful ethical decision of the patient . . . and therefore should not be restricted by law . . .” (Minutes of the 182nd General Assembly (1970), United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., p. 89)” Abortion/Reproductive Choice Issues Presbyterian (U.S.A.) Mission Agency
In 1992 the highest governing body of the PC(U.S.A.) met and of the many topics they gathered around were abortion and reproductive rights. This is my favorite quote from the 204th General Assembly which took place in 1992: “The Christian community must be concerned about and address the circumstances that bring a woman to consider abortion as the best available option. Poverty, unjust societal realities, sexism, racism, and inadequate supportive relationships may render a woman virtually powerless to choose freely.” (Minutes of the 204th General Assembly (1992), Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), pp. 367-368, 372-374)
In 2012, the 220th General Assembly put out a resolution on reproductive health affirming the 1970 and 1992 statements and adding an up-dated rationale. You should read the entire document for yourself, but I will try to summarize the main points. Presbyterians understand that deciding what to do about an unplanned pregnancy is difficult and should be decided by individuals and not legislated by government. Those seeking and those providing abortions should not be criminalized. No laws should be enacted that Defund or criminalize family planning services. Instead, we should advocate for access to education and health care for everyone. We believe that education, health care, and of course, love and support will actually reduce the amount of unwanted pregnancies. Abortions should be safe, legal, and rare.
In May 2019 the stated clerk put out this response to Alabama’s antiabortion legislation. This document quotes a section of the Roe v. Wade decision to show that it “not a blanket endorsement of abortion as is sometimes implied by opponents.” The document concluded by centering the women and doctors at the heart of abortion decisions.
I appreciate the way my denomination has talked about abortion issues and I will be looking to see if there is a PCUSA response to what’s happening in Texas.
I feel helpless to make changes for Texas (I don’t live/vote there) but I really want to make a difference where I can. For now, I will take my urges to “do something” to my blog and my work with Days for Girls.
Days for Girls does not take political sides in hot button issues like abortion, but I believe the work DfGI does in educating women and girls about their bodies (especially menstruation) and providing them with menstrual management solutions is the basis from which women and girls will make other choices for their health and wellness. Providing this education and resources is a place where nearly all of us can agree and work together for the benefit of menstruators. I realize not everyone sees seem-ripping as a way of taking out aggression and finding a centering place in which to meditate on something good, but perhaps there are ways in which each of us can disengage from the bickering and engage in something positive.
If you are looking to do something positive too, you can donate to a charity of your own choosing or my I suggest making a monetary donation to The Pittsburgh Chapter or to Days for Girls International or purchasing needed materials from the Pittsburgh Chapter’s amazon wish list. Wish list items can be shipped directly to Third Church.