Historically, the Presbyterian Church advocated for the protection of all innocent human life
The Church historically understood abortion as a violation of God's law and viewed it as infanticide. John Calvin, in his commentary on the sixth commandment, said it was, "...atrocious to destroy the unborn in the womb..."
Though the reformers broke from many of the teachings of Rome, their views about abortion remained unchanged from the historic biblical tradition of preserving and nurturing human life.
The Westminster Catechism (1647) teaches that "neglecting or withdrawing the lawful or necessary means of preservation of life...and whatsoever tends to the destruction of the life of any" is sinful. Further, it teaches that our Christian obligation includes "protecting and defending the innocent."
In 1869 the Presbyterian Church regarded abortion with "...abhorrence, as a crime against God and against nature..."
The Presbyterian Church remained unified with all of Christendom in its opposition to abortion and its affirmation of life throughout its history until the early 1970s.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) currently advocates for abortion
The position of the Presbyterian Church (USA) on abortion says that "the considered decision of a woman to terminate a pregnancy can be a morally acceptable, though certainly not the only or required, decision." (1) Our denomination's sexuality curriculum teaches that, "...it can be an act of faithfulness before God to intervene in the natural process of pregnancy and terminate it." (2)
The Presbyterian Church (USA) supports financially the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (formerly the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, RCAR) and Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options (PARO).
Our denomination pays for abortion, without restriction, through its own medical benefits plan.
Presbyterians Pro-Life is standing in the breach!
We will not leave the Church without a witness concerning:
- Biblical teachings about God's creation of all human life, and his purpose for it;
- Scripture's teaching on believers' obligations to our neighbors, to the innocent and to the defenseless;
- The destructive spiritual effects of abortion on women, families and the church;
- The ways that decisions about sexual practices affect individual lives and the corporate life of the church
PPL is committed to restoring the Church's witness and ministry in response to questions about life
- We apply the truth of Scripture and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to issues of life and sexuality, and call the Church to do that as well.
- We encourage obedient discipleship, and call the church to a corporate commitment to the protection of innocent human beings--all of them made in the image of God--from conception to natural death.
- We help churches and church members who want to offer alternatives to abortion to women facing crisis pregnancies.
- We publish materials and speak in the public forum of the Church.
- We equip local churches and church members, along with our network of local chapters, to be effective in their efforts to bring change--in individual lives and in the corporate life of the Church.
Presbyterians Pro-Life is a renewal ministry in the Church
We affirm the Scripture as the authority for the church's proclamation and teaching.
We call the Presbyterian Church (USA) and her people to live in a manner worthy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our hope is to see our Church so administer the means of God's grace that all God's people are warned away from sin, and that those who sin are led gently to repentance, have assurance of forgiveness, and are restored fully to fellowship with God and with the community of believers in the Church.
We seek to be an active instrument of godly change in our denomination by working through and influencing Church government.
A word about PPL and public policy
As an organization, PPL limits its interest in the secular political debate over life issues to the moral influence of the Church on the culture. We in PPL believe the state ought to fulfill its duty to resist evil and preserve the lives of the innocent members of its community. However, we deliberately confine our work and witness to the church.
We are persuaded that the church's moral role in the society is a primary influence for good or ill. Therefore, for the sake of the integrity of the Church and for the sake of the culture and the people for whom Christ died, we concentrate our efforts on the restoration of godliness as pertains to the moral life and voice of the Church.
(1) From the position statement adopted by the General Assembly in 1992.
(2) From God's Gift of Sexuality: A Study for Young People in the Reformed Tradition, Presbyterian Publishing House, Louisville, KY 40202, 1989.