After a 9 month process, on November 8, 2011, The Washington Presbytery approved 43-9 an overture to the 220th GA directing the Board of Pensions to provide a medical benefits plan which will not pay for abortions except to save the physical life of the mother.
Text of the Washington Presbytery Overture
Resolved, that the Presbytery of Washington overtures the 220th General Assembly (2012) to protect Presbyterians who believe abortion is sin, from the sin of complicity in the taking of human life by directing the Board of Pensions to provide a medical benefits plan which will not pay for abortions, except that any procedure necessary to save the physical life of the woman will be covered.
The overture will be considered by commissioners to the General Assembly in Pittsburgh, PA (June 30-July 7, 2012) and seeks "to protect Presbyterians who believe abortion is sin, from the sin of complicity in the taking of human life." If approved by the GA, the Board of Pensions would be directed to make changes in the Medical Benefits Plan which currently covers all abortion claims. The mandatory nature of the Medical Benefits Plan (required for all installed pastors in the PC(USA)) and its unrestricted coverage of abortion has long been an issue of conscience for those who believe abortion is sin. The Presbytery asks the GA to direct the Board of Pensions "to provide a medical benefits plan which will not pay for abortions, except that any procedure necessary to save the physical life of the woman will be covered."
The overture was initiated by the Langeloth Presbyterian Church and reminds PC(USA) members in its rationale that, "The Board of Pensions medical plan currently covers abortion under a wide range of circumstances." In fact, the BOP Plan covers all claims for legal abortion without regard to policy statements of the denomination. The 1992 policy document, Problem Pregnancies and Abortion, for example, speaks against abortions for reasons of convenience, gender selection, or to acquire fetal tissue for research purposes. A General Assembly statement in 2006 also declared that viable babies ought not be aborted. However, The Board of Pensions makes no effort to distinguish whether claims for abortion adhere to these guidelines expressed in PCUSA policy.
The rationale of the overture says that abortions, other than "medical emergencies when the life of the mother is at stake," "fly in the face of the Scriptures, which show a clear and consistent regard for human life at even its earliest stages." Quoting Ephesians 1:4-6, Psalm 139:13, and Luke 1:41, the rationale reminds us that we are created and chosen by God and that our lives are precious to Him. The overture rationale concludes: "Let us not treat lightly lives that are costly and precious to our Lord, but instead adopt a medical plan that shows compassion for both mother and child, in full obedience to God's revealed will."
For a copy of the overture and information on how to concur contact the PPL office.