In the autumn of 1978 the Washington Association of Churches and the Washington State Catholic Conference jointly published a six-page pamphlet they called “Abortion: An Ecumenical Study Document.” Their work offers a fascinating snapshot of Christian thinking at the time and raises some equally fascinating questions about what, exactly, has happened in the last 35 years.
The pamphlet does not contain a position statement. Quite the opposite, in fact. From the beginning, the authors explain that such an agreement is impossible: "Clearly there is no Christian position on abortion, for here real values conflict with each other, and Christian persons who seek honestly to be open to God’s call still find themselves disagreeing profoundly."
At the time, five years had passed since the Rove v. Wade decision, and the Church, broadly, was wrestling with ethical and spiritual complexities the decision brought to the surface. WAC, which existed “to express and strengthen the unity Christians have in Jesus Christ” had asked member denominations to create a study group because strong feelings on the question of abortion were threating that mission. In the absence of an agreement, the study group articulated a set of shared values and then assembled statements on abortion from member denominations.
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