International Positional Statement
1. Statement of the Issue
is defined as an operation or other procedure to terminate a
pregnancy before the foetus is viable. This definition describes an
‘induced or elective abortion’ and is the issue under
consideration in this positional statement. This issue should not be
confused with ‘spontaneous abortion’ or ‘miscarriage’ when a
pregnancy ends due to ‘natural’ causes.
year 210 million women worldwide discover they are pregnant. Of these
pregnancies 80 million will not reach full term. Of these, 42 million
are terminated by induced abortion, of which 20 million are illegal.
2. Statement of Position
Salvation Army believes all people are created in the image of God
and therefore have unique and intrinsic value. Human life is sacred
and all people should be treated with dignity and respect. The
Salvation Army accepts the moment of fertilisation as the start of
human life. We believe that society has a responsibility to care for
others, and especially to protect and promote the welfare of
vulnerable people, including unborn children.
Salvation Army believes that life is a gift from God and we are
answerable to God for the taking of life. As such, The Salvation Army
is concerned about the growing ready acceptance of abortion, which
reflects insufficient concern for vulnerable persons including the
unborn. We do not believe that genetic abnormalities that are
identified in an unborn child who is likely to live longer than a
brief period after birth are sufficient to warrant a termination of
Salvation Army recognizes tragic and perplexing circumstances that
require difficult decisions regarding a pregnancy. Decisions should
be made only after prayerful and thoughtful consideration,
acknowledging the tremendous pressures that occur during an
unexpected pregnancy. There is a responsibility on all involved to
give the parents of the unborn child, particularly the woman,
appropriate pastoral, medical and other counsel. The Salvation Army
believes that termination can occur only when
addition, rape and incest are brutal acts of dominance violating
women physically and emotionally. This situation represents a special
case for the consideration of termination as the violation may be
compounded by the continuation of the pregnancy.
Salvation Army affirms and supports professional people engaged in
the care of pregnant women who feel on religious, moral or ethical
grounds, that they cannot be involved in any way with the procuring
or undertaking of an abortion.
Principles, Facts and Information
is not a new social phenomenon:
abortion – the deliberate action of terminating a pregnancy – is
not a new procedure. It has been recorded in history including
ancient Chinese and Egyptian societies and Roman and Greek
civilisations. The patterns of abortion employed around the world and
throughout the ages are remarkably similar. When women have been
faced with unwanted pregnancies some have turned to abortion –
regardless of religious or legal sanction and often at considerable
seek abortions for complex reasons
should not be seen as a quick response to an inconvenient or
unplanned pregnancy. The many and complex reasons women seek abortion
cannot simply be dismissed as frivolous or unconsidered. The
individual context demonstrates many of the difficulties that women
face globally in all walks of life. Some reasons for unplanned
pregnancies are more predominant in context of poverty, war or
commonly occurring violence against women. Many of the reasons that
women do not, or are unable to, protect themselves against unplanned
pregnancy are influenced by cultural, social or economic factors.
as a weapon of war
forced prostitution, and other forms of sexual violence occur in time
of war not only as the choice of individual soldiers but also as a
military tactic to humiliate and demoralize the enemy. The
documented incidents number in the multiple thousands. Those who
become pregnant as a result bear the burden of being continuing
reminders of the military impotence of their whole community.
Biblical and Theological Principles
number of biblical and theological principles underpin The Salvation
Army’s position on abortion.
sanctity of life
Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of human life. Humankind was
created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). All people – without
exception – are of value to him, holding a special place in his
creation (Psalm 8:5), irrespective of age, gender, race, religion,
health or social status, or their potential for achievement. The
Bible makes it clear that human life is sacred: it is God who gives
life (Acts 17:25) and God who decides when it ends (Psalm 104:29). In
particular the scriptural principle of the right to life of innocent
human beings is firmly established (Isaiah 59:7, Jeremiah 22:3).
start of human life and personhood
concern for humanity includes life in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16,
Jeremiah 1:5). This is reflected in Old Testament law which imposes
penalties upon those who cause the loss of foetal life (Exodus
21:22-23). The visit of Mary to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-45) seems to
demonstrate the continuity of life from the foetal stage. Although
not specifically mentioning abortion, these texts imply that any
decision deliberately to end an unborn life is a violation of its
ongoing sanctity and is therefore a serious issue requiring
justification to God.
of God’s gift of life to humanity is our free will and the ability
to make decisions (Proverbs 1:29; Isaiah 7:15-16). Some people would
argue that, despite the notion of sanctity of life, the mother has
the right to choose whether or not she wishes to continue with a
pregnancy and that her right to do so supersedes the right of the
unborn child to life. This is not consistent with the Christian
belief in a God who cares for and defends the weak and the
marginalised (Leviticus 19:14, 33-34) and who is a God of justice
(Psalms 140:12, 146:7-9). The notion of human rights must be
accompanied by that of human responsibility. In the case of abortion,
the Christian’s responsibility to defend those at risk is not to be
Salvation Army holds to the Christian ideals of chastity before
marriage and fidelity within the marriage relationship, and
encourages everyone to live consistently with these ideals.
serious commitment to the protection and care of the unborn calls us
to a commitment to the prevention of unwanted pregnancy through means
such as access to reliable birth control, safety in relationships,
and societal respect of women.
Salvation Army takes seriously the needs, rights and responsibilities
of parents and unborn children when considering the matter of
abortion. When an unwanted pregnancy occurs, The Salvation Army
counsels that the parents receive caring support for their emotional,
physical, social and spiritual needs, and that the unborn child be
carried to term.
acknowledge that legal provisions for women to terminate pregnancies
exist in some countries. Alternatives to termination should always be
fully explored when counselling the pregnant woman and those
supporting her and her unborn child. The Salvation Army seeks to
who have had an abortion, with care and respect in a loving and
compassionate manner without discrimination. The
Salvation Army will also show love, compassion and fellowship to all
The Salvation Army recognizes that the decision to terminate a
pregnancy carries emotional and physical implications for many years,
often damaging relationships and personal self-worth.
pregnancies are sometimes the result of poor social conditions,
poverty and war. The Salvation Army will advocate for a society that
promotes wholeness, freedom, quality of life and the development of
the potential of all persons.
by the General—November
views expressed in this international positional statement constitute
the official position of The Salvation Army on the issue addressed,
and they may not be modified or adapted in any way without the
express written permission of International Headquarters.
H. Abortion round the world. British
Medical Journal. 335(7628) (2007):1018-9.;
G, S Henshaw, S Singh, E Åhman, and IH Shah. Induced abortion:
estimated rates and trends worldwide. Lancet 370 (2007): 1338–45.
the Guttmacher Institute for regularly updated data: