What does the ELCA teach about: Abortion?

Abortion is one of the most divisive issues in our country and the differences of view are just as evident in our denomination’s ministries, leadership, and members.  The ELCA’s social statement on Abortion recognizes this reality but also seeks to provide pastoral/spiritual/biblical guidance to our members.  You can read the entire social statement “Abortion” on the ELCA webpage

What follows is the interpretation and summary of that statement by our pastor.

We pray for and support a vision of a society where induced abortion is: (1) Rare (2) Available (3) Safe.

Public policy relating to abortion:

  1. We oppose a total lack of regulation of abortion.  We also oppose a total ban on abortion.
  2. The church supports laws and policies that can lessen unintended pregnancy including comprehensive sex education, community pregnancy prevention, voluntary birth control and/or sterilization, and the development of new forms of contraception.
  3. The church supports laws and social policies that support housing, access to healthcare, childcare, education, parental leave, etc. We recognize that our responsibility in reducing abortion extends into care for the child and family.
  4. We oppose laws that intend to deny a pregnant person abortion services if they:
    • Use coercion or lack of information regarding options available.
    • Deny termination of a pregnancy due to maternal health or extreme fetal abnormality.
    • Are intended to harass or put undue hardship on someone seeking or contemplating an abortion.
  5. The church opposes forced or coerced abortion or sterilization.

The social statement of the ELCA draws from a few core, Biblical points:

  1. Human beings, created in God’s image, have intrinsic value and dignity (Genesis 1:27-28)
  2. All of life is a mysterious, awesome gift from God. (Psalm 139, Jeremiah 1:5, Isaiah 40:26, Luke 1:41, Acts 17:24-25)
  3. What God has created is currently corrupted by sin.
  4. God calls us to repentance, renewal, and responsible living.
  5. We are empowered by the forgiveness we receive from God to love and serve our neighbors.

Some core beliefs that emerge from the social statement:

  1. We mourn any loss of life or potential life.
  2. We are disturbed when circumstances lead a person to see abortion as their best possible option.
  3. We confess that we have failed as a church and a society to adequately provide conditions that support all life.  We further confess that we have not adequately provided and promoted ways to reduce unintended pregnancies, fetal abnormalities, poverty, sexual assault/coercion, etc.
  4. The church recognizes that the “moral decision” on induced abortion is not a clear line.  The church does recognize that an induced abortion in cases of maternal health, extreme fetal abnormalities, and rape/incest/sexual coercion should be assumed as a “moral decision” rather than an immoral one.