A major report on abortion, assisted reproductive technologies and stem cell research has been received by the Methodist Conference. The report, Created in God’s Image, also discusses embryo screening and egg and sperm donation. The report was jointly produced by the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church.
Created in God’s Image looks at the ethical and theological issues raised by these technologies, and aims to give church members a useful framework for discussing them, and other breakthroughs yet to come.
Conference also voted that the Methodist Council should form a group to revise its position on abortion, which was last reviewed in 1976. Since then, medical advances have changed the ethical landscape, especially the discussion of the 24-week limit for abortions.
Anthea Cox, Methodist Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice, said: “these are all difficult and confusing areas for ordinary people, yet also potentially exciting for those who might benefit from them. This report helps us to discuss and understand them better. Many people hold deeply held views on early human life, and we need to ensure that we do not compromise our core values in pursuit of medical developments. Modern medical technologies promise great things, and we need to make sure that we as Christians are able to have fully informed discussions the ethical dimensions of these.”
The 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.