Abortion and Contraception
Christians believe that human beings are created in God's
image. All human life should therefore be reverenced.
Ian Leck, Professor Emeritus and former Professor of
Epidemiology at Manchester University, gave a presentation to a
meeting of the Methodist Parliamentary Fellowship on the subject of
the 40th anniversary of the Abortion Act 1967.
Download a copy of the presentation 'Abortion - 40 years
A briefing from the Methodist-Baptist-URC Joint Public Issues
Team on abortion and information about the current political
the Abortion Briefing here.
What is the position of the Methodist Church on
Methodist Conference Statement of 1976 states that
abortion is always an evil, to be avoided if at all possible by
offering care to single mothers during pregnancy, and the adoption
of their children if, at full term, the mother cannot offer a home.
However, the Statement also holds that there will be circumstances
where the termination of pregnancy may be the lesser of evils.
These include situations where the embryo is grievously
handicapped, the pregnancy is the result of rape or the health,
mental or physical, of the mother is at risk.
At what stage does an unborn fetus become a
The result of the coming together of human sperm and ovum is
obviously human. The appearance of the 'primitive streak' (the
beginning of the neurological system) after some fourteen days is
an important stage. However for many weeks after this event,
natural abortion will continue to bring about the termination of
over 50% of embryos.
Fertilisation, implantation and subsequent development are parts
of a continuous process. It is simply not possible to identify the
single moment when a new human person begins. The right of the
embryo to full respect clearly increases throughout a
Should there be a time-limit for abortion?
It would be strongly preferable that, through advances in
medical science and social welfare, all abortions should become
unnecessary. But termination as early as possible in the course of
the pregnancy may be the lesser of evils. If abortion were made a
criminal offence again, there would be increased risks of
ill-health and death as a result of botched 'back-street'
abortions. Late abortions should be very rare exceptions. To refuse
to countenance abortion in any circumstances is to condemn some
women and their babies to gross suffering and a cruel death in the
name of an absolutism which nature itself does not observe.
Counselling and pastoral care should be available to the mother
and, where the father is known, to the father. The mother should be
told clearly of the alternatives to termination.
What about contraception?
The Methodist Church believes that responsible contraception is
a welcome means towards fulfilment in marriage, the spacing of
children, and the need to avoid pregnancy altogether, for example
for medical reasons.
A Report on the Status of the Unborn Human, received
by the Methodist Conference of 1990;
A Statement on Abortion adopted by the Methodist
Conference of 1976;
'Pastoral Issues on which Guidance is Sought', 1992, all from
the Methodist Conference. Text reproduced with permission from
"What the Churches say on moral and social issues" (Christian
For further information The first point of
contact is your local church where the minister can discuss your
questions with you.