That Resolution G, page 133 of the Convening Circular, be amended to read as follows:
"Whereas there are legislative changes contemplated in Canada in relation to abortion,
Whereas there is a need for a comprehensive study into matters relating to abortion, and
Whereas there has been no definite statement made by the Anglican Church of Canada regarding abortion,
THIS GENERAL SYNOD
1. Requests the Primate to set up a special study committee of theologians, parish clergy, obstetricians, doctors engaged in family practice, lawyers, and specialists in behavioural and medical sciences to prepare a statement on all aspects relating to abortion, and further
2. Authorizes the said committee to submit a brief in the name of the Anglican Church of Canada when opportunity is provided to do so by the Government of Canada." CARRIED in both Houses.
Ottawa, Ontario - Abortion can be justified only when there is serious threat to the mother's life or health, the Anglican Church of Canada says in a brief presented to the standing committee on health and welfare today.
The church, while stating that it cannot agree with either the "abortion on demand" or "absolute prohibition" camps, makes proposals which depart from its long-standing tradition in opposition to abortion.
The brief states that termination of pregnancy may be a justifiable consideration when circumstances contribute to the impairment of a mother's health, reducing her ability to care for her family. It does not recognize overcrowding, insanitary housing and malnutrition as justifiable causes for abortion.
"We assert the general inviolability of the foetus and defend its right to live and develop," it states. "We lay the burden of proof to the contrary on those who wish to extinguish that right on the ground that it is in conflict with another right having a greater claim to recognition.
The brief says there is urgent need to amend Criminal Code clauses dealing with the dispensing of means and information of family planning methods and urges the government to give priority to these sections of the Code.
The brief states that prevention of unwanted pregnancies by contraceptive means is to be preferred to other alternatives. A widespread program of family life education, including family planning, must accompany any change in the Criminal Code dealing with contraception, it says.
In cases of alleged rape or incest, it should be the effect upon the mother's total health rather than the circumstances of the conception which provides a valid ground for ending the pregnancy, the brief says. It also suggests therapeutic abortions be considered by a hospital committee when diagnosis can indicate there is substantial risk of foetal abnormality. Abortion in such cases would be directed toward prevention of breakdown of the mother's health.
The brief was prepared by a team of 24 persons, composed of bishops, clergy, laymen and women, both married and unmarried. The committee, appointed by Most Rev. Howard H. Clark, primate of the church, represented a wide range of professions.