Health Issues Committee addresses reproductive health care access
July 4, 2012
The 220th GA Health Issues Committee has recommended that the Assembly call for “just access” to reproductive health care. The committee also affirmed the GA’s current policy on abortion and problem pregnancy approved in 1992.
The overture on improved reproductive health care access encourages the church “to support full access to reproductive health care for both women and men in both private and public health plans.” The action also affirms the “ability of women and men to make good moral decisions in matters of reproductive health.”
Larry Colleton, a ruling elder commissioner from Central Florida Presbytery, said a strongly worded overture on access to reproductive health care is badly needed “There is an aggressive effort being made (in state and federal legislation) to limit access to reproductive health care,” he said.
The committee amended the overture to remove reference to crisis pregnancy centers. Instead, it advocates full disclosure from any group offering reproductive health care services. The overture also opposes public funding to any organization that provides misinformation regarding reproductive health care.
The 1992 statement says that abortion can be a “morally acceptable” decision under certain circumstances, including rape or incest, severe physical or mental deformity, or if the physical or mental health of either the woman or child is “gravely threatened.” The statement also calls on Presbyterians to work to address problem pregnancies that lead to abortion. During the debate, several committee members referred to the 1992 statement as balanced and indicated little desire to change it.
In other action, the committee voted to recommend an overture to the participation of people with disabilities in the life of the PC(USA).
The overture asks that the Assembly direct the church’s six agencies to form a working group to develop a plan to train agency staff, GA commissioners and GAMC members in disability awareness and inclusion. Members of the working group would include human resources staff from each entity, representatives from Presbyterians for Disability Concerns (PDC) and the church’s disability consultants.