Briefing paper on abortion from the Baptist Union, Methodist Church and United Reformed Church

The debate on the topical issue of abortion has been joined by the Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and Baptist Union of Great Britain, who have produced a joint briefing paper for churchgoers. The 40th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act (on October 27 2007) has led to calls for change, with some people wanting stricter controls - whilst others would like abortion to be made easier. The paper does not express a view, but provides easy-to-read background information.

Graham Sparkes from the Baptist Union of Great Britain said: "It is right that there should be public debate of this issue - and that we should be involved in it. The arguments are complex and sensitive; the briefing should help inform the discussion that needs to take place.

Alison Jackson from the Methodist Church said: "For many people, abortion is not a black and white issue, and there are many Christians who do not sit comfortably on either side of the argument. What most Christians want to see is greater moderation and understanding of the issues. This briefing will help church members engage thoughtfully with the debate".

Simon Loveitt, Church and Society Convenor for the United Reformed Church, said: "Abortion is an important ethical and moral issue, but we need to remember that for some people, it is also a painful, personal issue".

The original time limit of 28 weeks was reduced by four weeks in 1990, with medical advances increasing the survival prospects of a child born earlier. According to official statistics, the total number of abortions in Britain in 2006 was 206,781, an increase of more than 7,000 in a year.

The Churches have also set up a joint working group to look, not only at abortion but at human embryology and early human life, including therapeutic cloning and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. It will include people from across the Methodist church, United Reformed Church and Baptist Union with a wealth of medical, theological and practical experience.

The abortion briefing is available online at www.jointpublicissues.org.uk and www.methodist.org.uk/downloads/pi_abortion_1007.pdf.

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