Resolution Number: 1994-A054
Title: Reaffirm General Convention Statement on Childbirth and Abortion
Legislative Action Taken: Concurred As Substituted and Amended
Final Text:

Resolved, That this 71st General Convention of the Episcopal Church reaffirms resolution C047 from the 69th General Convention, which states:

All human life is sacred from its inception until death. The Church takes seriously its obligation to help form the consciences of its members concerning this sacredness. Human life, therefore, should be initiated only advisedly and in full accord with this understanding of the power to conceive and give birth which is bestowed by God. It is the responsibility of our congregations to assist their members in becoming informed concerning the spiritual and physiological aspects of sex and sexuality.

The Book of Common Prayer affirms that "the birth of a child is a joyous and solemn occasion in the life of a family. It is also an occasion for rejoicing in the Christian community" (p. 440). As Christians we also affirm responsible family planning.

We regard all abortion as having a tragic dimension, calling for the concern and compassion of all the Christian community.

While we acknowledge that in this country it is the legal right of every woman to have a medically safe abortion, as Christians we believe strongly that if this right is exercised, it should be used only in extreme situations. We emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience.

In those cases where an abortion is being considered, members of this Church are urged to seek the dictates of their conscience in prayer, to seek the advice and counsel of members of the Christian community and where appropriate, the sacramental life of this Church.

Whenever members of this Church are consulted with regard to a problem pregnancy, they are to explore, with grave seriousness, with the person or persons seeking advice and counsel, as alternatives to abortion, other positive courses of action, including, but not limited to, the following possibilities: the parents raising the child; another family member raising the child; making the child available for adoption.

It is the responsibility of members of this Church, especially the clergy, to become aware of local agencies and resources which will assist those faced with problem pregnancies.

We believe that legislation concerning abortions will not address the root of the problem. We therefore express our deep conviction that any proposed legislation on the part of national or state governments regarding abortions must take special care to see that the individual conscience is respected, and that the responsibility of individuals to reach informed decisions in this matter is acknowledged and honored as the position of this Church; and be it further

Resolved, That this 71st General Convention of the Episcopal Church express its unequivocal opposition to any legislative, executive or judicial action on the part of local, state or national governments that abridges the right of a woman to reach an informed decision about the termination of pregnancy or that would limit the access of a woman to safe means of acting on her decision.

Citation: General Convention, Journal of the General Convention of...The Episcopal Church, Indianapolis, 1994 (New York: General Convention, 1995), pp. 323-25.

Legislative History

Author: The Standing Commission on Health
Originating House: House of Deputies
Originating Committee: Committee on Social and Urban Affairs

House of Deputies

Original Text of Resolution:

(A054)

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That this 71st General Convention of the Episcopal Church express its unequivocal opposition to any legislation on the part of the national, state or local government that would abridge or deny the responsibility and rights of individuals to reach informed decisions in the matter of abortion and to act according to conscience.

Proposed Substitute:

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That this 71st General Convention of the Episcopal Church express its unequivocal opposition to any legislative, executive or judicial action on the part of local, state or national governments that abridges the right of a woman to reach an informed decision about the termination of pregnancy or that would limit the access of a woman to safe means of acting on her decision.

Deputy Bell of Delaware moved an amendment to the substitute to A054.

Proposed Amendment:

Add before the first resolved:

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That this 71st General Convention of the Episcopal Church reaffirms Resolution C047 of the 69th General Convention, which states:

All human life is sacred. Hence, it is sacred from its inception until death. The Church takes seriously its obligation to help form the consciences of its members concerning this sacredness. Human life, therefore, should be initiated only advisedly and in full accord with this understanding of the power to conceive and give birth which is bestowed by God.

It is the responsibility of our congregations to assist their members in becoming informed concerning the spiritual, physiological and psychological aspects of sex and sexuality. The Book of Common Prayer affirms that "the birth of a child is a joyous and solemn occasion in the life of a family. It is also an occasion for rejoicing in the Christian community" (p. 440). As Christians we also affirm responsible family planning. We regard all abortion as having a tragic dimension, calling for the concern and compassion of all the Christian community.

While we acknowledge that in this country it is the legal right of every woman to have a medically safe abortion, as Christians we believe strongly that if this right is exercised, it should be used only in extreme situations. We emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience.

In those cases where an abortion is being considered, members of this Church are urged to seek the dictates of their consciences in prayer, to seek the advice and counsel of members of the Christian community, and where appropriate, the sacramental life of this Church.

Whenever members of this Church are consulted with regard to a problem pregnancy, they are to explore, with grave seriousness, with the person or persons seeking advice and counsel, as alternatives to abortion, other positive courses of action, including, but not limited to, the following possibilities: the parents raising the child; another family member raising the child; making the child available for adoption.

It is the responsibility of members of this Church, especially the clergy, to become aware of local agencies and resources which will assist those faced with problem pregnancies.

We believe that legislation concerning abortions will not address the root of the problem. We therefore express our deep conviction that any proposed legislation on the part of national or state governments regarding abortions must take special care to see that individual conscience is respected, and that the responsibility of individuals to reach informed decisions in this matter is acknowledged and honored.

Debate followed on the Bell amendment to the substitute for A054.

The question was called to terminate debate on the Bell amendment to the substitute for A054.

Motion carried

Debate terminated

A vote was taken on the Bell amendment to the substitute for A054.

Motion carried

Bell amendment adopted

Deputy Gilmour of Wyoming moved an amendment to the substitute for A054, as amended.

Proposed Amendment:

In the second resolved, between "action" and "on" in line 3 add", except parental consent legislation for minor children with proper judicial review".

Debate followed on the Gilmour amendment to the substitute for A054.

The question was called to terminate debate on the Gilmour amendment to the substitute for A054.

Motion carried

Debate terminated

A vote was taken on the Gilmour amendment to the substitute for A054.

Motion defeated

Gilmour amendment defeated

Deputy Keller of Arkansas requested that the two resolveds be divided. Debate followed.

The question was called to terminate debate on both resolveds of the substitute for A054.

Motion carried

Debate terminated

A vote was taken on the first resolved of the substitute for A054.

Motion carried

First resolved adopted

A vote was taken on the second resolved of the substitute for A054.

Motion carried

Second resolved adopted

Substitute resolution adopted

(Communicated to the House of Bishops in HD Message #233)

House of Bishops

The Committee on Social and Urban Affairs presented its Report #32 on House of Deputies Message #233 on Resolution A054 (Oppose Legislation on Matters of Abortion) and moved concurrence.

Proposed Amendment:

The Bishop of West Tennessee moved to delete the final resolved.

Bishop Walmsley moved the previous question.

Motion carried

Debate terminated

A vote was taken on the amendment.

Motion defeated

Amendment rejected

The Bishop of Northwest Pennsylvania moved the previous question.

Motion carried

Debate terminated

A vote was taken on concurrence.

The House concurred

(Communicated to the House of Deputies in HB Message #275)

Resolution Concurred by Both Houses, September 2.

Report Reference:   Standing Commission on Health, Reports to the 71st General Convention, 1994, pp. 288-301.
Abstract:   The 71st General Convention reaffirms Resolution 1986-C047 of the 69th General Convention on childbirth and abortion stressing the sacredness of human life. It expresses opposition to governmental restrictions on information or access to abortion.
Notes:  

Resolution 1994-A054 reaffirms the "Statement on Childbirth and Abortion," Resolution 1988-C047 of the 69th General Convention ( Journal of General Convention, 1988, p. 683).