Kerry, abortion and other faiths

As first reported in the Dubuque Tribune Herald and given greater exposure by The Washington Post, John Kerry has elaborated on his long-stated personal opposition to abortion in contrast with his perfectly prochoice voting record. "I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception," Kerry told the Tribune Herald. "I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist."

Kerry makes his belief in the sacredness of human life sound like a uniquely Catholic position, something akin to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. But the debate among religions isn't primarily about when life begins, or whether the number of abortions should be reduced.

Granted, most mainline houses of worship, whether Protestant or Jewish, support abortion rights in varying degrees. But they also express a wide consensus that abortion is a serious matter indeed.

Let's begin with an admittedly contrarian voice from within the nontheistic community:

Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League Every abortion involves the destruction of an innocent human being's life, so abortion should be used, if at all, only in extreme cases. At a minimum, abortion should never be used as a substitute for contraception or a fallback position for irresponsible behavior. Accordingly, abortions for "convenience" should be illegal.

The Episcopal Church All human life is sacred from its inception until death. The Church takes seriously its obligation to help form the consciences of its members concerning this sacredness. Human life, therefore, should be initiated only advisedly and in full accord with this understanding of the power to conceive and give birth which is bestowed by God. It is the responsibility of our congregations to assist their members in becoming informed concerning the spiritual and physiological aspects of sex and sexuality.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Because we believe that God is the creator of life, the number of induced abortions is a source of deep concern to this church. We mourn the loss of life that God has created. The strong Christian presumption is to preserve and protect life. Abortion ought to be an option only of last resort. Therefore, as a church we seek to reduce the need to turn to abortion as the answer to unintended pregnancies.

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) While Presbyterians do not have substantial agreement on when human life begins, we do have agreement that taking human life is sin.

Reform Judaism All life is sacred in Judaism. Although an unborn fetus is precious and is to be protected, Judaism views the life of the mother as paramount, placing a higher value on existing life than on potential life. Women are commanded to care for the health and well being of their bodies above all else. Therefore, there are several instances in Judaism where abortions are not only condoned, but are mandated.

The Southern Baptist Convention Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord.

The United Church of Christ God has given us life, and life is sacred and good. God has also given us the responsibility to make decisions which reflect a reverence for life in circumstances when conflicting realities are present. Jesus affirmed women as full partners in the faith, capable of making decisions that affect their lives.

The United Methodist Church Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother, for whom devastating damage may result from an unacceptable pregnancy. In continuity with past Christian teaching, we recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection.

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