Mennonite Church USA

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

Beginning of Life

Abortion

Official Statement: from "Statement on Abortion"[1] based on former Mennonite Church (1975)[2] and General Conference Mennonite Church (1980)[3] statements. Adopted 2003.

"We Believe —
Human life is a gift from God to be valued and protected. We oppose abortion because it runs counter to biblical principles. The fetus in its earliest stages (and even if imperfect by human standards) shares humanity with those who conceived it. There are times when deeply held values, such as saving the life of the mother and saving the life of the fetus, come in conflict with each other. The faith community should be a place for discernment about difficult issues like abortion. Abortion should not be used to interrupt unwanted pregnancies. Christians must provide viable alternatives to abortion that provide care and support for mothers and infants. The church should witness to society regarding the value of all human life. Professionals whose ministry involves dealing with the moral dilemmas of abortion and reproductive technologies need our support."
"We Confess —
We have failed to offer a clear voice affirming life as an alternative to our society’s frequent reliance upon abortion as the solution to problem pregnancies. We have failed to show compassion for those who are suffering the consequences of abortion. We have failed to work for a just health care system that would assist poor families in caring for their children."
"Human life is a gift from God to be valued and protected. Humanity and humans have a special place in God’s creation. The Bible teaches that all human life is a gift of God and of immeasurable worth in His sight:
  • The Psalmist speaks of God’s intimate involvement in the creation of human life.
  • Abortion runs counter to biblical principles which give a high value to human life. “Portrayal of God as the author and giver of life creates a general presumption against any human decision to terminate life.”
  • We are created in God’s image.
  • We are protected and admonished by the commandment, “You shall not murder”.
  • We are instructed to act in the best interests of our neighbor.
  • Throughout the Bible, we are called to demonstrate special concern for the defenseless, the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, the stranger, and the one who has no advocate. Though the Bible does not explicitly say so, in our day concern for the “defenseless” should also extend to the fetus."
"The fetus in its earliest stages (and even if imperfect by human standards) shares humanity with those who conceived it. The Bible does not speak directly to the question of abortion. . . . The Bible places a high value on the life of the fetus, though it does not necessarily support its defense to the exclusion of all other considerations. We understand that the fetus is not just a piece of tissue to be discarded at will. On the other hand, neither is the fetus treated as a human/person in the full sense of that term. Human life begins at conception. We agree that any attempt to define the beginning of humanness at a point along the spectrum of development is a mistake, tempting as it may be. At the same time, our martyr tradition and our hope in eternal life do not insist that human life trumps all other values. Most people will choose the life of the mother if a choice must be made about the survival of either the mother or the fetus. In those rare situations when a choice must be made between the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child, Christians should prayerfully seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit with a group of believers committed to discerning the will of God."
"We believe that the possibility of deformity or mental handicap is not sufficient reason to choose abortion."
"We stress the importance of respect for the life of the fetus. We condone abortion only under the most exceptional of circumstances. When abortion appears to be the least bad choice among several undesirable options, we stress the need for discernment in the faith community."
"Abortion should not be used to interrupt unwanted pregnancies. We support responsible decisions to limit family size. We believe that when pregnancy is not desired, responsible men and women will take responsibility for their sexual behavior. We do not support the use of abortion as a means of birth control or for limitation of family size."
"We are committed to providing care and support for those infants who are carried to term. We will seek creative alternatives to abortion that will enhance the well-being of mother, father, and child. We commit ourselves to show concern for individuals who place their children for adoption. The faith community should be ready to support financially, and in other ways, the families of all children, including those who are developmentally disabled."
"The church should witness to society regarding the value of all human life. We will promote consistency in favor of human life along the entire spectrum of human existence. We stand in opposition to sacrifice of life in the womb, in the death chamber, and through war in all its forms."

("Statement on Abortion", 2003[4])


Healthcare & Medicine

Access to Healthcare

Official Statement: from the "Resolution on National Healthcare Policy" 2009[5], expanded the 2003 "Resolution on Healthcare Access," the 2005 "Healthcare Access Statement: Our Theology," and 2007 "Healthcare Policy Principles" and is based on former Mennonite Church documents the "Resolution on Health Care in the United States (1993)[6]

"Our Healthcare Access Statement also affirms that a biblically-compatible healthcare system would:
  • Celebrate God’s generous provision of resources, assuring enough for everyone when shared equitably by all;
  • Promote the flourishing (shalom) of the whole community, including each of its members;
  • Protect the well-being of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society; and
  • Cultivate stewardship of God’s resources."
"We will ask our members and congregations to urge their congressional representatives to support legislation that would extend access to healthcare to all Americans, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, while we engage local healthcare needs. We will work together with others to bring about this result. We will pray for healthcare access for Americans across our land, as well as those working on behalf of this issue." ("Resolution on National Healthcare Policy" 2009[7])
"Resolved that Mennonite Church USA authorize the Access Initiative, a project to demonstrate our commitment, as a community of faith, to universal access to health care by developing models that focus on helping congregations deal with problems of access to health care. These models will incorporate the following principles:
  • Access to health care for all persons
  • Emphasis on health promotion and prevention of illness
  • An emphasis on healing and caring rather than focusing only on curing
  • Recognition of our mortality and the limits required by stewardship of scarce resources" ("Resolution on Healthcare Access" 2003)
"We call for a health care system that:
  • Provides access to basic health care for everyone, everywhere in the United States.
  • Emphasizes health promotion and prevention of illness.
  • Places the curing of individuals in the larger context of healing and caring for one another.
  • Recognizes our mortality and the limits of our financial resources.
  • Is guided by a national health care policy which controls cost while emphasizing quality care." ("Resolution on Health Care in the United States" 1993[8]. See also "A Resolution on Health Care" from the General Conference Mennonite Church U.S. Assembly, 1992 [9])
  • We believe that the use of abortion among the poor is driven at times by the inequities and gaps in the present health care system. An informed woman with financial resources has always been able to get a safe abortion while a poor woman who is less informed has resorted to abortions under expensive, dangerous, and clandestine conditions." ("Statement on Abortion", 2003[10])

Conscience Issues

Official Statement:

"We commit ourselves to support professional caregivers. We know that the church has often left the difficult task of dealing with persons facing abortion to the professionals in medicine, law, mental health, or social work. We commit ourselves to support our professionals whose ministry includes dealing with moral dilemmas of abortion and reproductive issues. When a person for reasons of conscience chooses not to perform or participate in performing abortions, we will advocate on their behalf." ("Statement on Abortion", 2003[11])

End of Life

"As delegates we call on our congregations, institutions, and members to:
  • reaffirm our biblical beliefs about health and illness, life and death, and our hope in the resurrection through Jesus Christ as the basis from which we approach health care issues.
1. We commit ourselves to completing advance directives (e.g., living wills and proxies) as an affirmation of our beliefs about life and death and as a symbol of our commitment to stewardship and justice." ("Resolution on Health Care in the United States" Mennonite Church, 1993[12])

Physician-Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia

No Official Statement though the strong affirmation of life and condemnation of murder in the various documents of the Mennonite Church USA suggest an implicit opposition to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

Notes

  1. http://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Statement_on_Abortion_(Mennonite_Church_USA,_2003)
  2. http://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Abortion_(Mennonite_Church,_1975)
  3. http://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Guidelines_on_Abortion_(General_Conference_Mennonite_Church,_1980)
  4. http://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Statement_on_Abortion_(Mennonite_Church_USA,_2003)
  5. http://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Resolution_on_Healthcare_Access:_Next_Step_(Mennonite_Church_USA,_2009)
  6. http://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Resolution_on_Health_Care_in_the_United_States_(Mennonite_Church,_1993)
  7. http://mennoniteusa.org/resource/resolution-on-national-healthcare-policy-next-step/
  8. http://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Resolution_on_Health_Care_in_the_United_States_(Mennonite_Church,_1993)
  9. http://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=A_Resolution_on_Health_Care_(General_Conference_Mennonite_Church_U.S._Assembly,_1992)
  10. http://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Statement_on_Abortion_(Mennonite_Church_USA,_2003)
  11. http://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Statement_on_Abortion_(Mennonite_Church_USA,_2003)
  12. http://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Resolution_on_Health_Care_in_the_United_States_(Mennonite_Church,_1993)
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