Protestants Supporting Abortion?


January 2, 2013 by mattfradd

After an extensive search through reputable and authoritative documents and websites, I have not been able to find one main-line Protestant denomination (The Assemblies of God may be the exception) which explicitly condemns abortion under every circumstance. Rather, each denomination confessed that abortion was acceptable under certain circumstances.

Now, to be fair, most protestant Christians I know are against abortion. And, unfortunately, many Catholic Christians I know are for abortion. But when bad Catholics are bad Catholics we call them, “bad Catholics.” If, on the other hand, a member of the Prestbyterian Church (USA) rejects his church’s position that, “[abortion] can be a morally acceptable decision”11  should we consider him a “bad Presbyterian?”

In this blog I’ve compiled 11 official statements from Protestant Christian denominations and one official statement from the non-Christian church of the Latter Day Saints. You can check out my sources by clicking the respective Church at the end of each statement.

“This church recognizes that there can be sound reasons for ending a pregnancy through induced abortion.” – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

‎”…we call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” – Southern Baptist Convention

“The Church opposes abortion and counsels its members not to submit to, be a party to, or perform an abortion except in the rare cases where, in the opinion of competent medical counsel, the life or health of the woman is seriously endangered or where the pregnancy was caused by forcible rape and produces serious emotional trauma in the victim…” – The LDS Church (Mormon)

“We believe that abortion should be a personal matter between a woman and her doctor, who should earnestly consider their understanding of the particular situation permitting the woman to bring to bear her moral and religious insights into human life in reaching a decision through a free and responsive exercise of her conscience.” – United church of Canada 

“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.” – The Episcopal Church

‎”Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother, for whom devastating damage may result from an unacceptable pregnancy.” – United Methodist church

“in some infrequent cases saving the life of the child or of the mother may mean the death of the other. If after prayer for God’s intervention, the problem is not resolved, consultation with attending pro-life physicians will be helpful in arriving at the proper conclusion.” – Assemblies of God

‎”The final decision whether to terminate the pregnancy or not should be made by the pregnant woman after appropriate consultation.” – Seventh Day Adventists

‎”The Salvation Army recognizes tragic and perplexing circumstances that require difficult decisions regarding a pregnancy. Such decisions should be made only after prayerful and thoughtful consideration, with appropriate involvement of the woman’s family and pastoral, medical and other counsel. A woman in these circumstances needs acceptance, love and compassion.” – The Salvation Army 

‎”The Church of England combines strong opposition to abortion with a recognition that there can be – strictly limited – conditions under which it may be morally preferable to any available alternative (General Synod) – Anglican Church (Church of England)

“The decision of a woman to terminate a pregnancy can be a morally acceptable decision.” – The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 

“I do not believe in abortion as it is being practiced today. However, there can be extenuating circumstances,” – Pastor Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel. 

Please compare the above dribble with the authoritative words of Blessed John Paul II:

“[The Church’s teaching on abortion] is unchanged and unchangeable. Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his successors . . . I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed asan end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.

This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium.

No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church”

(Evangelium Vitae 62).

If there is a main-line Protestant denomination which I am unaware of that condemns abortion under every circumstance, please let me know.

16 thoughts on “Protestants Supporting Abortion?

  1. David says:

    Jaw dropped. Thanks for sharing Matt.

  2. Joe Rogers says:

    The only thing is that what some people mean by abortion is different. For example if a pregnant woman has an etopic pregnancy what then?. In catholicism this is permitted under double effect. (the intent is to save the life of the mother) It’s not called abortion as it’s intention is not to kill the unborn. However my impression is that some protestant churches feel the same way – that for a genuine threat to maternal life ‘abortion’ is permitted. I think it is a case of being more specific.

    • Most moral theologians point out that directly attacking the life of the child is immoral. Thus a Chemical abortion. Removing the Fallopian tube is generally accepted.

    • It could be a bit of the horse chasing the cart.

      If you look at some of the things that increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies you could question how regular they would occur if people stuck to ALL of what Catholicism teaches.

      While they may still occur, it may be a lot less frequent.

      Things that are known to increase the risk of Ectopic Pregnancies

      STD’s (which would be rare if people didn’t engage in sex before marriage)
      IUD’s (Contraception devices)
      Tubal Sterilization
      Medications – Contraceptive hormonal medications that contain progesterone-like hormones

      The Catholic Church teaches against sex before marriage, that would eliminate the STD risk. The Catholic Church teaches against using Contraception.
      Smoking – I’m not sure there if there is a direct teaching on this, maybe Matt could elaborate on this topic in a future post. It’s common sense thought not to do something that knowingly can cause oneself harm.

      When we mess with God’s laws there seems to be a lot of side effects that cascade to deeper problems that may not even exist if we hadn’t violated God’s original laws.


  3. Robyn says:

    Joe, only certain procedures for an tubal pregnancy are permitted. According to the National Catholic Bioethics Center, there are three common treatments. One is a medical (drug-induced) abortion, which is never permissible. Another is essentially an early surgical abortion, also never permissible. Finally, surgery can remove the damaged section of the affected Fallopian tube. This is permissible because it’s removing a damaged organ that cannot function correctly. The embryo’s death is a secondary effect. If there were a way to attempt to replant the embryo in the uterus, it should be done, but currently this procedure does not exist.

    • Joe Rogers says:

      I know, however despite the unwanted effect of terminating the pregnancy, this is permissible, though sad example. However I find that such exceptional situations are often what people are thinking of them when think of ‘medically necessary abortion’ – what they really mean is unintended side effect of termination rather than abortion per se.

      • mattfradd says:

        This may be the case Joe. Unfortunately, however, when you read most of these statements they don’t seem to be alluding to an etopic pregnancy.

      • Joe Rogers says:

        Yes I do realise that, but I think it is important to make the distinction so that people don’r rage ‘ CATHOLICS DONT CARE IF WOMEN DIE (from etopic pregnancies)’ which is a misrepresentative stance which is often bandied about by the pro-choice/pro-abort lobby

  4. Monica says:

    Hi, I have a question…

    I was reading an article somewhere else on the web, and the topic of abortion came up. One of the comments went something along the lines of “The Catholic Church doesn’t care if a 10-yr-old is impregnated and has to have an abortion to survive,” which of course isn’t true. But I’m wondering…

    If a very young girl really did become pregnant and would die without an abortion, what would be a Catholic answer to that situation? One answer I got before was “They probably have some type of technology to help her survive without having to get an abortion,” but, what if the family cannot afford that kind of technology, if it does exist?

    I know this is a question based on ‘what if’s, but I’m just wondering…

    • mattfradd says:

      Thanks Monica,

      Your question seems to be, what if, in a particular situation, carrying a fetus through to term would mean the death of the mother.

      Let’s consider such a case:

      If an ectopic pregnancy, one in which the embryo implants outside the unterine cavity, occurs and the only way to save the mother is to remove, say, the fallopian tube, in which the implantation occurs, it is permissible to remove the fallopian tube in order to save the mother. Though the consequence of this surgery would be the death of the fetus, it does not constitute an abortion for an abortion is always the direct killing of an innocent fetus; removing a fallopian tube is done to save the mother which has as it’s consequence the death of the new human life.

      You might ask yourself, well what’s the difference? Is not the Catholic Church simply splitting hairs when it says one is right and one is evil?

      In order to answer that question, consider an analogy.

      Suppose you spotted two people drowning in a river and jumped in to save them. If you were unable, due to a lack of physical strength or life saving equipment, to bring them both to shore and could only save the life of one, would you be guilty of murder? Well, obviously not.

      Consider the same analogy, but instead of simply being incapable of bringing both people to shore, you pushed one of the people under the water until he drowned and then dragged the other to shore, would you be guilty of murder? You bet you would!

      I hope this is a help.

  5. Rachel says:

    “The above dribble,” lol! Go on Matt, tell it like it is. You say what alot of the rest of us are thinking but are afraid to say it. And the fact of the matter is, to call it dribble (which I agree, it certainly is!) is not having a go at the individual Protestant, because like you said, most of them as individuals are against abortion full-stop and are quite Catholic in their beliefs, despite what their own particular churches teach.

  6. […] months ago I did a study which showed the position each (mainstream) protestant denomination took on abortion. The ONLY […]

  7. Magdalen says:

    As someone active in the pro-life movement, it is VERY hard to get Protestant churches to pray with us. Only a couple of the independents will. Some “Christian” churches are openly pro-abortion, some are cowards, some do not want to even think about it. Some are “personally opposed”. Sad. If we had stood together 40 years ago, 56 million unborn Americans might be alive today in a thriving economy.

  8. Amber says:

    Someone brought up to me that the USA Salvation Army was upset with the International Salvation Army’s stance on abortion and that they do not hold the same stance. There was even a article about it in 2012. I am not able to find anything on the USA’s site about it. Does anyone know where I can find what the updated official stance is for the USA’s Salvation Army? I do not want to defame them in any way but already shared an article about why we should not support the Salvation Army. I may have to apologize.

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