Editor’s Note: The following statement was released on January 31, 2019, by New York Area Resident Bishop, Thomas J. Bickerton, and Upper New York Area Resident Bishop, Mark J. Webb, about the Reproductive Health Act that was signed into New York State law in January.
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ!
The conversation about abortion has dominated the media over the last few days. In January, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Reproductive Health Act, one of the most sweeping expansions of abortion rights since abortion was legalized in New York State in 1970. Some commend this action as a significant step toward securing women’s rights and health. Others fear the less restrictive provisions of the new law will lead to an increase in abortions and especially late-term abortions.
Although the number of abortions in New York State has declined in recent years (a trend mirrored across the country), New York has twice the number of abortions as any other state according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonpartisan research organization.
The new law now permits abortion after the 24th week of pregnancy in cases where a woman’s life or health are threatened or when an unborn child is deemed not viable and unable to survive outside its mother’s womb. It also allows health care providers to determine what constitutes a health threat to a pregnant woman and expands authorized health care providers to include not only physicians, but licensed nurse practitioners, physician assistants and licensed midwives.
As United Methodists, we are clear about several things related to abortion. Our Social Principles state, “The beginning of human life and ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born.” Our Social Principles also state that, “We are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child. We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers . . . We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection or eugenics. We oppose the use of late term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life.” (Social Principles, ¶161K)
Our Social Principles challenge us to work for the “diminishment of high abortion rates” by “encourage[ing] ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies such as comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education, advocacy in regard to contraception, and support for initiatives that enhance the quality of life for all women and girls around the globe.” We urge you to talk with other leaders about how your church might engage in these kinds of ministries.
We are supportive of our church’s current stance on abortion as expressed in our denomination’s Social Principles and encourage you to use these principles as a basis of education and conversation on this sensitive issue in particular.
We know passions run high on all sides of the abortion debate and in the midst of those conversations we know God calls us to a future where the value of every human life – including every woman and every unborn child - is honored and protected. The way to that future will not be found through finger pointing, legislating, or even church programs, but only by walking the path of Jesus with one another.
Grace and Peace,
Thomas J. Bickerton Mark J. Webb
Resident Bishop, New York Area Resident Bishop, Upper New York Area
"Today, I have signed a letter to Congress to make clear that if they send any legislation to my desk that weakens the protection of human life, I will issue a veto. And, we have the support to uphold those vetoes. Every child is a sacred gift from God."
Source: President Donald Trump, speech to the March for Life rally, 1/18/19, https://www.lifenews.com/2019/01/18/president-donald-trump-tells-march-for-life-i-will-veto-any-bill-that-promotes-abortion/ (Accessed 1/23/19. Article includes complete text of President Trump's speech.)
"HHS was not sufficiently assured that the contract [with Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc.] included the appropriate protections applicable to fetal tissue research.... As a result, that contract has been terminated, and HHS is now conducting an audit of all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue...." See press release
"Primary nationwide abortion statistics for the United States are available from two sources—privately from the Guttmacher Institute (AGI) and publicly from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Guttmacher’s numbers, published every three years, come from direct surveys of all known and suspected abortion providers in the United States. The CDC numbers, published annually, are derived from actual counts of every abortion reported to state health departments. Unfortunately, California, Maryland, and New Hampshire do not publicly report abortion totals. As such, Guttmacher’s abortion numbers are more complete, but they are approximations." Read more
"Despite Planned Parenthood's public rhetoric as well as state and federal laws requiring it to report suspected [child sexual] abuse, its failure to report has been deliberate and widespread." Read more
"The National Abortion Federation (NAF) dismissed seven out of eleven claims on Friday [July 20] against pro-life journalist David Daleiden and his organization, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). In 2015, NAF sued David and CMP after they began releasing undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood's trafficking of baby body parts." Read more
Kelsey Grammer told the UK Times that it "gets a bit dishonest to call something reproductive rights when you clearly have a choice well before a baby is conceived." Read more
"Courtesy of science, images and even videos of children curled up, thumbs in their mouths, have been imprinted on our cultural consciousness. And no one who seriously reckons with these images or is not willfully blind can call what they depict as mere 'blobs of tissue.' And therein lies the problem for pro-choice activists." Read more
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
Source: John 8:36 (New International Version)
"Today, in a 5-4 win, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in NIFLA v. Becerra, striking down a 2015 California state law that forced pro-life medical clinics to promote abortion by posting abortion advertisements on their websites and waiting room walls. The decision marks a resounding victory for pregnancy help centers" Read more
"The development of pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last normal period, even though the development of the fetus does not begin until conception. .... 'Gestational age' is the age of the pregnancy from the last normal menstrual period (LMP), and 'fetal age' is the actual age of the growing baby." Read more
Efforts are underway in Illinois to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment which failed in the 1970's. Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, says, "It's no coincidence that every organization that supports abortion in the United States also supports ratification of the ERA. They know what this deceptive amendment will accomplish - the end of any democratically enacted restriction or regulation of abortion." Read more
"We celebrate you, Katharine. We celebrate your life ... and we celebrate all lives. We celebrate the loving choice of adoption. Katharine reminds us that every life is sacred, and that every child is a precious gift from God, so true. As the Lord says in Jeremiah, 'Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart.'" Read more
Watch the President's speech
Surrounded by moms and babies, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new law Friday [May 4] to prohibit abortions after an unborn baby has a detectable heartbeat. Read more
Since the birth of The United Methodist Church in 1968, the Social Principles' paragraph on abortion has been contested. .... This Social Principle has now been revised - thoroughly, in the GBCS's draft proposal for 2020. Read more
A federal judge has dismissed a felony tax evasion charge against a man who describes himself as a Christian who refuses to give money to the government to support abortion. Read more
Because the Sexual Revolution is now undermining Christian teaching on human sexuality and harming countless unsuspecting people, read more
black lives, outnumbering the CDC’s reported top 15 leading causes of deaths among blacks in 2014--combined. The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute (created by Planned Parenthood) reported 926,200 abortions in 2014, 28% of which were among black women. That’s 259,336 deaths (711 per day) via induced abortions versus 246,122, respectively. Read more here
"A new human being is conceived when a sperm fertilizes an egg. The sperm has 23 chromosomes and so does the egg. But the fertilized egg has 46, half from each parent, and is genetically unique. These 46 chromosomes, which are fixed at conception, establish the child's sex and are a blueprint for how it will develop, both during pregnancy and after birth." Science
"Abortion proponents on March 26 made clear their displeasure with the Trump administration's proposed conscience protections for healthcare providers, saying in effect that doctors and nurses who have religious objections to abortion should be forced to participate in the practice nonetheless." Read more