Anglican Samizdat

April 3, 2009

What is the Anglican Church of Canada’s position on Abortion?

Filed under: Abortion,Anglican Church of Canada — David Jenkins @ 11:06 am
Tags: ,

The number of abortions per year in Canada is running at about 105,000 or 30 abortions for 100 live births.

You would have to be forgiven for not knowing what the ACoC’s position is on this, because the ACoC has done its best to conceal its official views on abortion. From one perspective, this is strange, since the ACoC spends a considerable amount of time trumpeting its support for a just society –  informing us piously that Jesus himself was on the side of the oppressed – and conducting Justice Camps where backsliding communicants are sent for re-education. It is hard to imagine an act more unjust than the deliberate murder of an unborn child; but where are the clarion calls for justice from the ACoC? Silence.

Strangely enough, the Canadian Armed Forces site has a rare unequivocal statement by the ACoC:

Abortion is always the taking of a human life, in the view of the Church, and should never be done except for serious therapeutic reasons.

This looks promising, but where does it come from?

This site provides a clue:

The official policy of the Anglican Church of Canada is that “abortion is always the taking of a human life and, in our view, should never be done except for serious therapeutic reasons.”[12] It is common for “serious therapeutic reasons” to be interpreted very liberally, on the grounds that “both the rights and needs of women, and the rights and needs of the unborn, require protection.”

Footnote [12] points us to a page on the ACoC’s web site – now we are getting somewhere!

No we’re not:

Sorry! Page not found.

But this was at one time a sub-page of the “resources” page here:

Sadly, the “resources” page has, over time, devolved into Five Marks of Mission, Human Sexuality and New Beginnings. No room for 105,000 dead babies.

In spite of the ACoC’s reluctance to proclaim justice with a prophetic voice – or any voice – it is possible to glean a hint of where the ACoC stands from other sources. This one, for example (my emphasis):

Last October, REAL Women received an urgent request for information from the World-Wide Movement of Mothers, a pro-family organization based in Paris, France, with whom we work at the UN.

That organization had been requested to participate in the World March of Women 2000, which was being organized in Montreal.

We investigated the March at its request, and learned that it was being organized by La Féderation des Femmes du Québec, which advocates abortion on demand and lesbian rights.

We thought nothing more about the matter until early March of this year, when a pamphlet promoting the March 2000 was forwarded to us. We were shocked to read, according to this pamphlet, that the March had been endorsed not only by the usual assortment of radical feminist groups and the Canadian Congress of Labour (the latter spear-headed by pro-abortion / lesbian NDP activist, Nancy Riche), but also by the Anglican, Presbyterian and United Churches in Canada.

This from 1989 is of historical interest, but sheds little light on the church’s view today:


In the light of the Government’s announcement of a new Abortion Bill, the Anglican Church reaffirms its position that both the rights and needs of women, and the rights and needs of the unborn, require protection.

One would think that Eric Beresford,  the Anglican Church of Canada’s co-ordinator of ethics and interfaith relations, could provide some answers.  He can’t; he admits in this article that he has no idea whether abortion is right or wrong. Anyway, marginalization, poverty, and powerlessness are what matter – except when applied to unborn babies:

At this point it is interesting that the positions adopted by the Anglican Church of Canada have insisted on the moral significance and dignity of fetal life and on the importance of the rights and needs of women who are clearly recognized as the primary decision makers.

How can these be held together? Only by recognizing the social context in which the needs of each are brought into conflict. Abortion is not a private tragedy but, at least in part, a social issue in which women’s experience of marginalization, poverty, and powerlessness are all central factors which need to be addressed in any adequate response to abortion.

All of this goes to show that, in spite of all the breast-beating about justice, standing up for the oppressed and prophetic discernment, the leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada do not have the guts to take a clear stand on one of the most important ethical issues of the 21st Century.



  1. The ACoC is consistent in choosing the easy way out. So much for the sanctity of life and the stewardship of the earth. When a purported Christian denomination endorses the ripping of human life out of the womb, there will be no place for them to hide.

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — April 3, 2009 @ 3:58 pm

  2. Reproductive Choice along with Sexual Preference ,is a major value for Global Interfaith and theirReligious Coalitions which feature Anglicans and Episcopals.

    What social forces are funding Globl Interfaith, Abrahamaic Unity? Is Reform Judaism trying to create new sect in Islam, “Refor Islam”?

    Reform Judaism Islam Yehezkel Landau, Hartford Seminary Global Interfaith:

    Comment by Kazee — April 4, 2009 @ 3:17 am

  3. The killing of an unborn person is contrary to the natural law. It is something “we can’t not know”. The natural law is what is written upon the human heart by God. Whether one is Muslim, Catholic, Anglican, etc. the natural law applies. It is, however, the teachings of the Catholic Church which upholds the fullness of the truth on the natural law and the dignity of the human person. There is peace in knowing this truth. God bless.

    Comment by Maureen — October 25, 2009 @ 1:05 pm

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