Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Anglican Diocese of Melbourne backs legalisation of abortion

THE DIOCESE of Melbourne has backed the legalization of abortion. In a submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission made by an all-women panel appointed by Archbishop Philip Freier, the diocese stated public acceptance of abortion ‘indicates that a change in the law is timely.'

While abortion ‘is a serious moral issue’ it should not ‘remain a matter for criminal law,’ the diocese said.

Melbourne’s submission was one of 40 from church, medical and community groups to the Reform Commission reviewing state abortion laws.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne’s submission opposed the decriminalization of abortion, but urged further resources be directed towards the support of women with problematic pregnancies.

There were ‘no specific biblical texts addressing therapeutic or induced abortion’ the diocesan panel said, and explained that ‘the Bible is a collection of texts written in a world without our modern medical practices and so does not speak specifically to the ease and safety with which a pregnancy may be terminated today.’

It rejected the ‘absolutist position’ that life begins at conception and the ‘pro-choice perspective’ that held that women were free to ‘do what they like with their own bodies.’ The diocese stated ‘that while the embryo/foetus is fully human from the time of conception, it accrues moral significance and value as it develops.’

Thus while the ‘destruction even of an early embryo is of moral significance, we believe the moral significance increases with the age and development of the foetus.’

The abortion of a foetus at 28 weeks was ‘more serious’ than at 10 weeks, they said, but added there should not be ‘a legislated absolutist end-point after which an abortion could not proceed.’

Writing to his diocese on Dec 10, Dr Freier said Melbourne did ‘not have a definitive viewpoint on abortion’ and as a whole the Anglican Church ‘has predominantly been silent about abortion.’

The diocesan panel which prepared the report was currently engaged in preparing a paper outlining on the ‘Pastoral and Liturgical Guidelines on Abortion, which is expected to be made available to churches in 2008,’ he said.

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