Originally issued in 1981, reissued in 1989 and 2001.
In response to the increased debate following the July 3, 1989, Supreme Court ruling on abortion, Pax Christi USA reaffirms its 1981 Seamless Garment position in support of all life. The consistent ethic of life opposes not only abortion, but also the death penalty, war, the nuclear arms race and anything that threatens life. In addition, Pax Christi reaffirms its goal to work for the full and equal participation of women in the church and society.
Pax Christi’s opposition to abortion is based on a total commitment to the principle of unwavering reverence for human life. We reject, as we have rejected in the past, the claim of any individual, any group or organization, any nation to the “right” to destroy human life, whether singly or as entire populations.
Having made this clear, we agree that our concern must not only ensure saving the lives of the not-yet-born but also include recognizing that every child must be assured the opportunity to meet their basic human need and to develop and fulfill their physical, intellectual and spiritual capacities. The fact that 40% of the homeless in the US are families with children cannot be overlooked in our present debate.
We also recognize that, as the debate rages on the abortion issue, the situation of women in our society continues to worsen. One-third of female-headed families live in poverty. Two out of three of all minimum wage earners in the US are women: widows get only a portion of the Social Security payments accorded to their deceased husbands. In the abortion debate, the societal conditions which limit women’s options are often ignored. Women are too often criminalized or condemned by those committed to the unborn or exploited and victimized by those committed to abortion rights. The physical and psychological trauma of abortion on women is minimized and trivialized.
We must recognize that women who are considering abortion often struggle with a complex and painful dilemma. We must ensure that women do not choose abortion because of a lack of economic assistance, child care, health care or emotional support. No matter what decision is reached, they should be received with loving concern and compassion by the followers of Christ.
Our work for nonviolent change should protect the life and the dignity of both the unborn and women. To achieve these objectives, we urge that all parties to the debate conduct themselves in a spirit of compassionate respect for their opponents and not allow the discussion to degenerate into arguments or actions which could lead to, or involve, the threat of physical or psychological violence. Pax Christi USA commits itself to engaging in the debate by promoting dialogue and the search for common ground among those on all sides of the issue.