|Abortion Benefits & Relief of Conscience|
Posted December 28, 2001
Booklet available from PPL about PC(USA) medical benefits plan coverage of abortion
Abortion and the Medical Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
The PC(USA) medical benefits plan, which is mandatory for all installed pastors, lists thirty limitations and exclusions from coverage. Abortion is not among them. Abortion for any reason, at any time during pregnancy, is a covered service of the denomination's plan. The coverage includes partial birth abortion; it includes abortion by means of chemicals, such as RU-486; it includes abortions for minor dependent daughters with no requirement for parental notification; it includes no requirement for medical necessity. General Assembly Council Executive Director John Detterick, when he was President of the Board of Pensions--the PC(USA) entity that designs and administers the plan--said, "The simple fact is that the medical plan pays for elective abortions as ordinary medical payment."
Churches have sought relief from paying for abortion coverage since the mid-1980s
It is not difficult to see why the plan's abortion coverage creates a moral crisis for church members. The coverage has been an issue since the medical benefits plan was made mandatory in the mid-1980s. Since that time churches have sent up overtures seeking redress nearly every year.
Adoption alternative now an option
Under the current provision of the Board of Pensions, a church must seek validation by its presbytery that it is a "relief of conscience" church. After the presbytery notifies the Board of Pensions of the validation, the Board then puts a portion of the church's dues in an "adoption fund" which is used to provide small grants to adoptive couples who are plan members. The grants are intended to defray medical costs for newly adopted infants.