United Methodist Women National Policymaking Body Files Joint Brief on Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
United Methodist Women’s national policymaking body and the General Board of Church and Society jointly filed a brief with the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church Aug. 24 in support of general church agencies’ continued work with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
The brief was filed in response to a North Alabama Conference action questioning whether church agencies’ work with the organization was aligned with the denomination’s position on abortion.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice policy statement, which the brief cites, does not conflict with United Methodist Church policy. RCRC’s policy states:
“As people of faith, we have a responsibility to ensure that the dignity of women and their decisions regarding childbearing are respected. We hold human life to be sacred - and that includes the life of the woman as well as the potential child. It is because of this belief that many religious communities work for a world in which every child is wanted, loved and cared for and support birth control, family planning, safe and legal abortion, and health care for all.
“To be clear: we are pro-choice, not pro-abortion. Being pro-choice means we honor all choices. It means we trust women and their families to decide whether and when to have children.”
RCRC acknowledges that each denomination and faith group represented in its membership approaches the abortion issue from its own theology.
The joint brief states that the church’s position on agency participation in RCRC is clear and cities the 2008 General Conference resolution in support of church agencies work, Resolution 3204, “Support for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice” (2008 Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church), which affirmed both agency’s work with RCRC.
It also states that the denomination’s position on abortion is equally clear and cites excerpts of paragraph 161 of the 2008 Book of Discipline of the Untied Methodist Church:
“Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. …
“We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures. …
“Governmental laws and regulation do not provide all the guidance required by the informed Christian conscience. Therefore, a decision concerning abortion should be made only after thoughtful and prayerful consideration by the parties involved, with medical, family, pastoral, and other appropriate counsel.”
The joint brief corrects factual errors in the Alabama Conference action as well: Neither the Women’s Division nor the General Board of Church and Society provides RCRC with any financial support, donations or dues.
The agencies urged the Judicial Council to follow its previous rulings on work with RCRC and find that the agencies’ membership and participation in the organization is consistent with the Social Principles and the position of The United Methodist Church.