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

The debate on the topical issue of abortion has beenjoined by the Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and BaptistUnion of Great Britain, who have produced a joint briefing paperfor churchgoers. The 40th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act (onOctober 27 2007) has led to calls for change, with some peoplewanting stricter controls - whilst others would like abortion to bemade easier. The paper does not express a view, but provideseasy-to-read background information.

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

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

Simon Loveitt, Church and Society Convenor for the United ReformedChurch, 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 in1990, with medical advances increasing the survival prospects of achild born earlier. According to official statistics, the totalnumber of abortions in Britain in 2006 was 206,781, an increase ofmore than 7,000 in a year.

The Churches have also set up a joint working group to look, notonly at abortion but at human embryology and early human life,including therapeutic cloning and pre-implantation geneticdiagnosis. 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.ukand www.methodist.org.uk/downloads/pi_abortion_1007.pdf.