Adventist Church Works to Clarify Its Stance on Abortion

A diverse group of Seventh-day Adventist medical experts, theologians, healthcare administrators and ethicists are currently engaged in an attempt to clarify the Church’s official stance on the controversial issue of abortion.

The denomination last offered guidelines, but not an official statement on abortion, in a 1992 document.

Beginning two years ago, the Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference (BRI), which offers biblical and theological insight to the church on many issues, was tasked with preparing a statement that reflects Scriptural principles bearing on the discussion of abortion.

The BRI Ethics Committee has developed multiple drafts of a proposed document, on which there is ongoing dialogue with the Church’s Health Ministries department and the General Conference (GC) Bioethics Committee. The Bioethics Committee includes representatives from the church’s teaching hospitals and medical systems, as well as independent Adventist healthcare administrators and practitioners.

An August 27 action of the General Conference Administrative Committee (ADCOM) established a Working Group on Abortion. The 26-member group includes representatives from Health Ministries, Women’s Ministries, Family Ministries, Education, Children’s Ministries, Ellen G. White Estate, Biblical Research Institute, Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries, Office of General Counsel, Public Affairs, senior administration, the General Conference Communication Department, and the Adventist Review.

Chaired by General Conference vice-president Artur Stele, the committee includes 23 members from countries other than the United States, including Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Russia, Finland, Norway, Jamaica, Senegal, Ghana, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Mauritius, Germany, and Chile. Six members are female; three of those are on the statement Writing Committee.

“The process of drafting any church statement should include representation from all segments of the church,” says Stele. “This important statement involves the participation of theologians, medical practitioners and clinicians, healthcare administrators, Church administrators, and both men and women.”

Stele went on to clarify the role of the Working Group. “The committee has been tasked with studying the BRI Ethics Committee draft, together with the 1992 guidelines,” he explained. “Further, the committee is to study and consider input and feedback from a variety of sources, including the GC Bioethics Committee.”

Quoting from the Committee’s Terms of Reference, Stele emphasized that the group’s third responsibility is to “prepare a draft of one unified statement that will clearly be based on biblical principles that underline the sanctity of life and recognize the exceptionally difficult cases/anomalies women can face.”

The announced goal is to bring a document to the floor of the General Conference Executive Committee, which convenes for its Annual Council in Silver Spring from October 9-16. An accelerated pace of writing committees and wider discussions by the entire Working Group is planned between now and an October 1 ADCOM meeting. The Administrative Committee will review the proposed document and decide whether to recommend it to the Annual Council session.

“This is a deeply sensitive topic,” says Peter Landless, director of Health Ministries for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “My prayer is that the outcome of the deliberations will positively benefit and strengthen the work and practice of our mission in all spheres.”

BRI director Elias Brasil de Souza agrees, saying “my hope is that this process will help church members and the Adventist community know where the Church stands on such a critical issue. It is important to the process that the results reflect faithfulness to Scripture.”

After a working draft has been reviewed by the 26-member committee at its September 4 meeting, a larger group of more than 30 representatives from the Church’s five healthcare systems in North America, members of the GC Bioethics Committee, and specialists from the denomination’s teaching hospitals, will be invited to a major discussion in mid-September.

Additional meetings of both the Writing Committee and full Working Group will also convene in the last half of September to incorporate the insights and counsel obtained from all parties participating in the discussion.

“As a health professional who understands how these statements will impact the lives of real people struggling with difficult decisions, I am encouraged by the process we are going through,” says Katia Reinert associate director of Health Ministries, and a member of both the Working Group and the Writing Committee. She concludes, “I feel confident that we will have a statement that will provide biblical and practical insight for future guidelines, taking into account the need for healing and wholeness of individuals and families living in a broken world.”

This article originally appeared on the Adventist News Network.

Image: The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, located in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States. Photo Credit: Brandan Roberts/Adventist News Network

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9841
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And how many women are on this critical topic committee?

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And now further diverse groups for statements on other areas of life and theology :+1:

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If I am not mistaken 6 out of 26.

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Yes, 6 women. There should have been more at least, 55 percent women, 45 percent male.

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I wonder why this topic comes up at this time… There are two suspicions, neither of which are palatable:

  1. The medical industry no longer makes all that much money from abortions … therefore at last the topic can be reconsidered outside economic pressures

  2. While we are at it - keeping the role of women small - we (especially we men) need to take away too much responsibility from women in yet another field…

Personally I thought the old statement was both clear and biblical - even though likely to have been introduced for the wrong (economic) reasons.

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Enough to make sure that the water glasses of the men are never empty.

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Seems like there are enough thoughtful women theologians in the
denomination to make 26, and therefore NO NEED for Any men.
After all, WHAT do men know about pregnancy, the emotional
impact of birth, especially when it is NOT a live birth on purpose.

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Mind you, I was present at all three births of my children… Thus I am not ignorant. :slight_smile:

There is another way of looking at it. By letting women solve the issue, we leave them alone … (that is to some extent the problem with the current position … men washing their hands in innocence… ultimately … the decision is left to the woman). By letting men solve the issue (perhaps the six women are needed to write the minutes…) men take responsibility (good) … but take it away from women (bad).

In other words - some balance might be helpful. But the current setup does not sound balanced in any manner…

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A room full of twenty-six persons making decisions for the entire church body to follow. Absurd!
Having faith is a personal experience where the individual has a relationship with God.
Choice is the whole point of being a Christian. Women can choose if they want to wear make-up, have sex, abstain, dress conservatively, attend pole dancing classes and watch The Bachelor . Christianity is the same because having a faith is an individual’s choice. While Christianity has been used by some as a political tool to manipulate people’s abilities to make choices throughout history, that is not its purpose. Since faith is a personal experience, it does not follow that everyone’s faith should be the same, nor does anyone have the authority to dictate what faith should look like. More importantly, observance of faith should never be enforced. Using the Christian faith as the sole reason to deny access to abortion is the same as making someone attend church, or pray when they have no faith, because a person is being forced to observe religious beliefs they have not chosen for themselves.

When male theologians or anyone for that matter inappropriately use religion as a justification for reducing, and aiming to eliminate, women’s access to health services a great wrong has been done… Ultimately, no matter what side of the debate you find yourself on, you cannot argue with history and statistics which demonstrate illegality of abortion has not stopped women from taking matters into their own hands. Denying access to the procedure will not save unborn children, instead it deeply endangers the lives of women.

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Exactly…

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Andreas –
Yes! I cut the cord on both of mine. But as a Male, I was ONLY an
observer for 9 months plus the labor and delivery rooms.
ONLY my wife KNEW what it was to carry for 9 months [hoping it
would get over soon], and go through the birthing process, and to
greet the person she waited 9 months to hold and meet.
Same with those 20 MEN, observers ONLY.
SAM-- in early 20th Century, some women performed “abortion” at
home with improvised “tools”. My parents spoke of it several times.
It was quite risky. And so were “back alley” abortion “clinics” of the time.

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Women? Are you kidding Harrpa? Only those austere, black suited men should be making that kind of decisions … FOR women, don’t you think??? :wink:

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Honestly, I was thinking about “enough women to make sure the floor is clean for the black suited men to walk on”… :roll_eyes:

By the way, welcome back again… LOL

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That’s the thing Sam, nobody “needs” to follow those rules anyway. It’s all nothing but theater! What authority does the Church (any Church) actually has other than the authority given to them by the people on the pews?

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Twenty-six people representing the entire world church, which is at least 70% women. How many under-30-year-olds are on the committee?

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Very likely very few, probably none, why?

  • Only 2 in 10 Americans under 30 believe attending a church is important or worthwhile (an all-time low).
  • 59 percent of millennials raised in a church have dropped out.
  • 35 percent of millennials have an anti-church stance, believing the church does more harm than good.
  • Millennials are the least likely age group of anyone to attend church (by far).

Looked around for anyone under thirty age bracket at SDA church administrative meetings, it’s a little like a Titanic search party…

IS ANYONE ALIVE OUT THERE? CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME?

Despite the scarcity of under thirty year olds most churches seem to be continuing on with business as usual. Sure, maybe they add a youth event here or a haystacks night there, but no one seems to be reacting with any level of concern that matches these STAGGERING statistics.

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Before anyone mentions the great ministry and work of Pathfinders at Oshkosh, please keep in mind that this event is the exception to the rule of low turnouts to many other youth efforts. The youth want to be involved they are waiting for us!

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Harrpa,
Asking inconvenient questions like this may irritate the black suited guys upstairs… Remember, “Good Adventists” don’t ask questions… :wink: :laughing: :innocent: :innocent:

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Adventist don’t think, only obey, even if what they must obey is questional.

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