Hot Potato – Abortion

The following scenario was discussed by those attending the evening meeting on Discipleship Sunday, 30 January 2011:

A 24 year old girl is pregnant by her ex-boyfriend. The relationship had been an abusive one and it had been very difficult to break away from him. She had tried to break from him many times before, but he had always followed her, harassed her and pressured her to continue the relationship. He would turn up at her home, her place of work and places she would go with her friends. It was this boyfriend who first introduced her to drugs and she has twice come off cocaine, only to restart with pressure from the boyfriend to do so.

This pregnancy is a result of one night when he had turned up where she was drinking with her friends at a pub, and she gave in to pressure when she was drunk. She is at present taking out an injunction to prevent him from contacting her, or coming near her.

She has a good job and all her family and friends live in the same area. Moving away is not an option as she would have no employment and no social support.

She is now 18 weeks pregnant. The boyfriend does not know of the pregnancy. She had initially decided to continue the pregnancy but now is having doubts over whether she has made the right decision. One of her friends who was in a similar position has just been to court where the father was given full visiting rights. She is afraid that if she continues with the pregnancy the same will happen to her and she will never be able to break away from the ex-boyfriend. Her mother is strongly advising a termination.

What are the issues?

What are the ethical principles involved?

What would your advice be?

What support would you offer?

The Salvation Army’s Positional Statement on Abortion (dated 1980)

The Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of all human life from the moment of fertilisation. It considers each person to be of infinite value, and each life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and preserved.

The Salvation Army supports efforts to protect and promote the welfare of the weak and defenceless person, including the unborn. It takes seriously the rights and needs of both the foetus and the mother. It accepts that termination of a pregnancy may be justified on certain limited grounds; that is, where, in the judgment of competent medical and allied staff, the pregnancy poses a serious threat to the life of the mother, or could result in irreversible physical injury to the mother.

In cases of proven rape or legally defined incest an abortion may be justified because of the extent to which rape and incest violate the whole person. Termination of a pregnancy may also be justified where reliable diagnostic procedures determine that a foetal abnormality is present which is incompatible with life other than brief post-natal survival or where there is total absence of cognitive function.

It is The Salvation Army’s experience that, where unwanted pregnancies occur, in most instances it is best to counsel acceptance of the situation by all involved, for the foetus to be carried to term, and for all possible supportive help to be given.

When an abortion has taken place The Salvation Army will seek to offer loving and compassionate pastoral care.

A serious commitment to the protection and care of the unborn calls The Salvation Army equally to promote and work for a society in which all those born into it find loving acceptance and the resources necessary to enable them to reach their fullest potential.

(Source: Major (Dr) Eirwen Pallant – 30 January 2011)

EirwenPallant (Medium) Major (Dr) Eirwen Pallant