Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Official website: http://www.elca.org

Beginning of Life

Abortion

“The language used in discussing abortion should ignore neither the value of unborn life nor the value of the woman and her other relationships. It should neither obscure the moral seriousness of the decision faced by the woman nor hide the moral value of the newly conceived life. Nor is it helpful to use the language of "rights" in absolute ways that imply that no other significant moral claims intrude. A developing life in the womb does not have an absolute right to be born, nor does a pregnant woman have an absolute right to terminate a pregnancy. The concern for both the life of the woman and the developing life in her womb expresses a common commitment to life. This requires that we move beyond the usual "pro-life" versus "pro-choice" language in discussing abortion.” (A Social Statement on Abortion, 1991 page 2).[1]
“Because of the Christian presumption to preserve and protect life, this church, in most circumstances, encourages women with unintended pregnancies to continue the pregnancy.” (A Social Statement on Abortion, 1991 page 6) [2]
“An abortion is morally responsible in those cases in which continuation of a pregnancy presents a clear threat to the physical life of the woman.”(A Social Statement on Abortion, 1991 page 7) [3]
“A woman should not be morally obligated to carry the resulting pregnancy to term if the pregnancy occurs when both parties do not participate willingly in sexual intercourse. This is especially true in cases of rape and incest. This can also be the case in some situations in which women are so dominated and oppressed that they have no choice regarding sexual intercourse and little access to contraceptives. Some conceptions occur under dehumanizing conditions that are contrary to God's purposes.”(A Social Statement on Abortion, 1991 page 7) [4]
“There are circumstances of extreme fetal abnormality, which will result in severe suffering and very early death of an infant. In such cases, after competent medical consultations, the parent(s) may responsibly choose to terminate the pregnancy. Whether they choose to continue or to end such pregnancies, this church supports the parent(s) with compassion, recognizing the struggle involved in the decision.”(A Social Statement on Abortion, 1991 page 7) [5]
“This church opposes ending intrauterine life when a fetus is developed enough to live outside a uterus with the aid of reasonable and necessary technology. If a pregnancy needs to be interrupted after this point, every reasonable and necessary effort should be made to support this life, unless there are lethal fetal abnormalities indicating that the prospective newborn will die very soon.”(A Social Statement on Abortion, 1991 page 7) [6]

Contraception

“This church supports the development and use of medical products, birth control, and initiatives that support fulfilling and responsible sexuality. This church also recognizes the important role that the availability of birth control has played in allowing women and men to make responsible decisions about the bearing and rearing of children.” (A Social Statement on Human Sexuality, 2009 page 35) [7]

Healthcare & Medicine

Access to Healthcare

“Health care as a shared endeavor entails a comprehensive and coherent set of services of good quality care throughout one’s life span. At a minimum, each person should have ready access to basic health care services that include preventive, acute, and chronic physical and mental health care at an affordable cost.” (Social Statement on Health and Healthcare, 2003 page 13)[8]
“As members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and as a corporate body, we support: 1) a comprehensive approach to health care as a shared endeavor among individuals, churches, government, and the wider society; 2) a vision of health care and healing that includes individual, church, and social responsibilities; 3) a vision of a health care system that is based on understanding health, illness, healing, and health care within a coherent set of services; 4) equitable access for all people to basic health care services and to the benefits of public health efforts; 5) faithful moral discernment guiding individual participation and public policymaking in health care services.” (Social Statement on Health and Healthcare, 2003 pages 2-3)[9]

Organ Donation & Transplantation

The ELCA’s position on Organ Donation is that it:

“…regards the donation of organs, tissue, and whole blood as an act of stewardship and as an appropriate means for contributing to the health and well being of other persons; [and] affirms that the human dignity of all donors and recipients should be respected and that all coercion and manipulation be absent from the donation process.” (Social Policy Resolution CC04.04.14 2004 “Donation of Organs, Tissue, and Whole Blood.”) [10]

Science & Technology

Biotechnology

Human Cloning

“As a matter of respect, however, the ELCA affirms the widely held rejection of research into human reproductive cloning because of the unacceptable risk of harm to experimental subjects. This church will continue to reject human reproductive cloning as a matter of respect even if it becomes safe and economically feasible. A person should not be treated as a means to another person’s end. Cloning for the sake of repeating another individual’s genotype violates this standard. Aims other than the replication of identity may be possible, but they are not compelling today.” (A Social Statement on Genetics, 2011 page 19)[11]

Genetic Ethics

“The ELCA does not reject the use of genetic technology such as genetically modified organisms, prenatal diagnosis, or pharmacogenetics.” (A Social Statement on Genetics, 2011 page 4)[12]

Gene Therapy/Genetic Engineering

“The priority of respect over that of promotion means that not every possible enhancement or innovation should be pursued. Promotion must not violate the fundamental directive of respect. Efforts toward enhancement or innovation must be evaluated also through the norms of justice and wisdom. This church rejects striving after some imagined perfection or idealized state of human life. Qualified by these limits, the ELCA encourages human imagination and innovation in the use of genetic knowledge to address physical and mental conditions, relieve human suffering and improve the human situation. It supports efforts to benefit general well-being within the rest of nature and the use of creative means to restore the environment that human have destroyed or damaged. It supports investment in such goals.” (A Social Statement on Genetics, 2011 page 11)[13]

Genetic Screening

“The ELCA does not reject the use of genetic technology such as genetically modified organisms, prenatal diagnosis, or pharmacogenetics.” (A Social Statement on Genetics, 2011 page 4)[14]
“There are circumstances of extreme fetal abnormality, which will result in severe suffering and very early death of an infant. In such cases, after competent medical consultations, the parent(s) may responsibly choose to terminate the pregnancy.” (A Social Statement on Abortion, 1991 page 7)[15]

End of Life

Extraordinary Measures

“The patient, family, and health-care providers need to make thoughtful decisions that serve the patient’s goals and well-being and that take seriously the limits of health care resources. This might mean, for example, that persons near the end of life choose to forego expensive treatments, the effectiveness of which might be very limited.” (A Social Statement on Health and Healthcare, 2003 page 8)[16]
“Because competent patients are the prime decision-makers, they may refuse treatment recommended by health care professionals when they do not believe the benefits outweigh the risks and burdens. This is also the case for patients who are incompetent, but who have identified their wishes through advance directives, living wills, and/or conversation with family or designated surrogates.” (Social Message on End of Life Decisions, 1992 page 3)[17]

Artificial Hydration & Nutrition

“Food and water are part of our basic human care. Artificially-administered nutrition and hydration move beyond basic care to become medical treatment. Health care professionals are not required to use all available medical treatment in all circumstances. Medical treatment may be limited in some instances, and death allowed to occur. Patients have a right to refuse unduly burdensome treatments which are disproportionate to the expected benefits.” (Social Message on End of Life Decisions, 1992 page 3)[18]

Physician-Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia

“The integrity of the physician-patient relationship is rooted in trust that physicians will act to preserve the life and health of the patient. Physicians and other health care professionals also have responsibility to relieve suffering. This responsibility includes the aggressive management of pain, even when it may result in an earlier death. However, the deliberate action of a physician to take the life of a patient, even when this is the patient’s wish, is a different matter. As a church we affirm that deliberately destroying life creating in the image of God is contrary to our Christian conscience...We oppose the legalization of physician-assisted death, which would allow the private killing of one person by another. Public control and regulation of such actions would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. The potential for abuse, especially of people who are most vulnerable, would be substantially increased.” (Social Message on End of Life Decisions, 1992 page 4)[19]

Issues of Human Dignity & Discrimination

Disability Ethics

“All people with disabilities are created in God’s image and share the gift of freedom for relationship and its dignity, regardless of their particular disabilities or range of personal capacities to respond to God and others.” (A Social Message on People Living with Disabilities, 2010 page 3)[20]

The language regarding the termination of pregnancy is ambiguous and could include termination of embryos who have disabilities:

“There are circumstances of extreme fetal abnormality, which will result in severe suffering and very early death of an infant. In such cases, after competent medical consultations, the parent(s) may responsibly choose to terminate the pregnancy.” (A Social Statement on Abortion, 1991 page 7)[21]

Notes

  1. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/AbortionSS.pdf
  2. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/AbortionSS.pdf
  3. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/AbortionSS.pdf
  4. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/AbortionSS.pdf
  5. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/AbortionSS.pdf
  6. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/AbortionSS.pdf
  7. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/SexualitySS.pdf
  8. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/HealthSS.pdf
  9. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/HealthSS.pdf
  10. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Donation_Organs_BloodSPR04.pdf
  11. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/GeneticsSS.pdf
  12. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/GeneticsSS.pdf
  13. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/GeneticsSS.pdf
  14. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/GeneticsSS.pdf
  15. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/AbortionSS.pdf
  16. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/HealthSS.pdf
  17. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/End_Life_DecisionsSM.pdf
  18. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/End_Life_DecisionsSM.pdf
  19. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/End_Life_DecisionsSM.pdf
  20. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/People_with_DisabilitiesSM.pdf
  21. http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/AbortionSS.pdf
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