A new study by LifeWay Research shows that abortion is more than an abstract issue for many women sitting in the pew.
One third of Protestant women who have had an abortion are Baptist, more than Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians combined, according to new statistics on abortion and church attendance collected by LifeWay Research.
Those numbers are similar to the Protestant population, says the Nov. 23 report based on interviews by the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention publisher, LifeWay Christian Resources, with 1,038 women who have had a medical procedure to terminate a pregnancy.
The numbers stand in contrast, however, to the staunchly anti-abortion public face of the nation’s second-largest faith group behind Roman Catholics. The Southern Baptist Convention has adopted 46 resolutions mentioning abortion since the first anti-abortion resolution in 1976.
The most recent, passed at the 2015 annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, reaffirms “our repudiation of the genocide of legalized abortion in the United States” and calls on civil authorities “to enact laws that defend the lives of the unborn.”
The Baptist Faith and Message, the Southern Baptist Convention’s official confession of faith, declares that “children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord” and encourages Southern Baptists to “speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.”
Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, held the Sunday nearest the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision recognizing a woman’s right to abortion, has appeared on the SBC denominational calendar since 1985. An accompanying special Sunday school lesson on the sanctity of human life in LifeWay curriculum was introduced in 1991.
According to LifeWay Research, more than four in 10 women who have had an abortion were churchgoers when they ended a pregnancy, but just 7 percent of women discussed their abortion decision with anyone at church. Three-fourths (76 percent) said the church had no influence on their decision to terminate a pregnancy.
Two-thirds (65 percent) said church members judge single women who are pregnant. A majority (54 percent) think churches oversimplify decisions about pregnancy options. Fewer than half (41 percent) believe churches are prepared to help with decisions about unwanted pregnancies and just three in 10 think churches give accurate advice about pregnancy options.
Seventy percent of women who have had an abortion indicated their religious preference is Christian, and 23 percent identified as an evangelical. A third (35 percent) indicated they currently attend church once a week or more. Half (52 percent) said no one at church knows they have had a pregnancy terminated.
Two thirds said they believe church members are more likely to gossip about a woman considering abortion than to help her understand options.
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SOURCE: Baptist News Global