I am being asked, “what does The Episcopal Church have to say about what is happening at the Supreme Court?” … I want to let you know about our Church’s stand on this important, and I know, divisive, issue.The Rt. Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce
My siblings in Christ,
I write to you from the place I am staying in Callander, Scotland, conscious of the fact that the news of the last few days has been of concern to many of you.
I am being asked, “what does the Episcopal Church have to say about what is happening at the Supreme Court?” While we do not yet know what the outcome will be, we do know that the Supreme Court’s possible overturn of Roe vs. Wade will potentially trigger an impending change in legislation here in the State of Missouri. I want to let you know about our Church’s stand on this important, and I know, divisive, issue.
As you all know, the Episcopal Church comes together every three years to talk about, pray about and approve legislation as to who we are, what we believe, and to speak out on social issues that we are concerned about as a church. The issue of childbirth and abortion are among the most important statements the church has made. The most recent being this resolution in 1994:
Resolution Number: 1994-A054
Title: Reaffirm General Convention Statement on Childbirth and Abortion
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.
I ask you to join me in prayer for the Judges of the Supreme Court, and for our Senators and Representatives, and all elected officials here in the State of Missouri.
Yours in Christ,
- Acts of Convention: Resolution # 1994-A054 (episcopalarchives.org)
- Summary of General Convention Resolutions on Abortion and Women’s Reproductive Health – The Episcopal Church