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by Abigail Van Buren

Many Denominations Support a Woman's Right to Choose

DEAR ABBY: With all the talk about "pro-life" and "pro-choice," I am confused about where the various religious denominations stand in the controversy.

Can you please tell us which religions support a woman's right to choose? -- CONFUSED IN ST. PAUL

DEAR CONFUSED: It is confusing. Not only do the various theologies differ in their positions on abortion, but within each religion individual members (and groups) may also have differing beliefs. The following are the official positions of some of the major religious groups that support a woman's right to choose.

AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE (QUAKERS): Supports a woman's right to follow her own conscience concerning child-bearing, abortion and sterilization.

CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST: "Matters of family planning are left to the individual judgment of members of our church."

CONSERVATIVE JUDAISM: Opposes government restrictions on a woman's right to have an abortion.

EPISCOPAL CHURCH: "Any proposed legislation on the part of national or state governments regarding abortions must take special care to see that the individual conscience is respected."

ISLAM: Abortion is allowed for any reason in the first 40 days of pregnancy (approximately 5.7 weeks). They oppose abortion after this point, except if the woman's life is in danger. The issue of fetal deformity is an issue that is being examined by the church.

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: "The abortion decision must remain with the individual, and be made on the basis of conscience and personal religious principles, and must be free of governmental interference."

REFORM JUDAISM: The decision of whether or not to have an abortion is the woman's. Under traditional Jewish law, the fetus is not considered separate from the woman until its head is out of the womb.

UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOCIATION: Supports the "right to choose contraception and abortion as a legitimate expression of our constitutional rights."

UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: "Upholds the right to have access to adequately funded family planning services, and to safe, legal abortions as one option among others."

UNITED METHODIST: Supports the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures.

ZEN BUDDHISM: "A decision should be made in full awareness of the consequences, and should be made by the individual with a clear head fully awake to the whole issue."

AMERICAN BAPTIST CHURCHES: Have adopted a neutral position.

No stated position has been announced by: African Methodist Episcopal, Buddhism, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Seventh-day Adventists, Shintoism, Sikhism.

For further information, contact the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, 100 Maryland Ave. N.E., Suite 307, Washington, D.C. 20002; (202) 543-7032. No self-addressed, stamped envelope is required.