Reproductive Health and Abortion

As of September 2022, women in Indiana will have less control of their bodies than they did before Senate Bill 1 banning abortion was passed and signed by Governor Holcomb. While it was proposed by one of the Republican women legislators, make no mistake that it was men who do not give birth who had the final say.

What may be touted as a victory for unborn children is undoubtedly a setback for women who want to make decisions with their healthcare professionals regarding what is best for their own health and well-being. We so desperately want to make this a simple pro-life versus pro-choice discussion when life is so much more complex than self-righteous labels.

Below is a proposed rewrite of our Social Principles on abortion that was submitted by the General Board of Church and Society to 2020 General Conference. Obviously, it has not yet been before our body to be voted upon, but it reflects our denomination’s effort to listen, learn, and lean toward a compassionate response that does not favor only the privileged few.

“We support the provision of comprehensive, age-appropriate education for sexual health, as well as consistent, effective, and affordable contraception. We also affirm ministries and initiatives aimed at promoting reproductive health and enhancing the quality of life for women and girls. Because of the dangers and risks involved in childbearing, we believe that women and girls should have consistent access to gynecological care. We, therefore, urge governments, businesses, churches, and other civic institutions to make access to prevention education, medical check-ups, treatment, and counseling for women and girls of childbearing age.”

“Our commitment to the sanctity of human life makes us reluctant to condone abortion. We unconditionally reject it as an acceptable means of birth control or a mechanism for gender selection and other forms of eugenics. We support measures requiring parental guardian or other responsible adult notification before abortions can be performed on girls who have not yet reached the age of legal adulthood, except in cases of alleged incest.”

“We oppose late-term or partial abortion, a process also known as dilation and extraction. We call for the end of this practice, except when the life of the mother is in danger, no other medical treatment is feasible, or when severe abnormalities threaten the life of the fetus. We recognize these and other tragic conflicts of life with life may justify decisions to terminate the life of a fetus. In these limited circumstances, we support the legal option of abortion and insist that such procedures be performed by trained medical providers in clean safe settings.”

“We urge all those considering abortions to seek appropriate medical advice and pastoral counseling and to engage in searching, prayerful inquiries into other alternatives, such as making babies available for adoption. We pray for those facing unintended pregnancies and offer our prayers and support as they attempt to discern God’s will and seek God’s wisdom and guidance. Regardless of the circumstances in which someone might get an abortion, we do not condone bullying or shaming people for their decisions or actions.”

“We acknowledge that young women of childbearing age frequently report that they lack the ability to make meaningful life choices or exercise effective control over their own lives. We challenge pastors, congregations, campus ministries, and others to be at the forefront of efforts to empower these young women. Additionally, we support resource centers that offer compassionate care and help women explore alternatives to abortion.”

“We recognize that access to reproductive health services is too often limited, by economic factors. Women living in poverty are often unable to make choices about when to become pregnant or about the size of their families. They also lack access to safe prenatal and postnatal care. Such a lack of agency perpetuates cycles of poverty by restricting the ability of women to participate in the workforce and by increasing the strain on scarce family resources. We support policies and programs that extend reproductive health services to women in economically challenged areas.”

“We support the use of a variety of reproductive strategies for those desiring to have children, including fertility treatments, in vitro fertilization (IVF), embryo or sperm donation, surrogacy, and others. We believe the decision of whether to use reproductive alternatives is best left to those considering the use of these options, in consultation with their health care providers. In all instances, the use of reproductive alternatives should be in keeping with the highest ethical standards, prioritizing the health and well-being of both women and children.”

Bishop Julius C. Trimble
Resident Bishop
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church