Unless you have been living under a rock this past week, the topic of abortion has been the main point of discussion on social media, even among members of the church. It is disheartening to see so many members online mingle their personal views with church doctrine so it aligns with their worldview. I’d like to address the most popular talking points seen this week by folks in and out of the church who, like the adversary, mix some truth with lies to justify themselves.
1. Agency = Pro-Choice
This is by far the most common refrain used by progressive members of the church. The argument is intellectually lazy and basically goes something like this: God gave us agency, which means we are free to make choices for ourselves, which means he supports an individual’s right to choose abortion. By this logic, God is pro-murder, pro-rape, and pro-theft, due to agency. See how ridiculous this sounds?
fellow members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: you do know that God won’t smite you for supporting the legalization and accessibility of abortion, right…??? ?
— like cardi b, but karlee b (@karlee_fries) May 17, 2019
This logic has also been addressed by church leaders. President Dallin H. Oaks taught: “Pro-choice slogans have been particularly seductive to Latter-day Saints because we know that moral agency, which can be described as the power of choice, is a fundamental necessity in the gospel plan. All Latter-day Saints are pro-choice according to that theological definition. But being pro-choice on the need for moral agency does not end the matter for us. Choice is a method, not the ultimate goal. …In today’s world, we are not true to our teachings if we are merely pro-choice. We must stand up for the right choice.”
2. There are some instances where abortion is acceptable.
As mentioned earlier, this argument is partly true and is used to justify a lie. The church handbook states that the only possible for exceptions for abortion are when: (a) the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, (b) the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy, and/or (c) the fetus has severe defects that will not allow it to survive beyond birth. First, it is important to recognize these situations account for less than 1% of all abortions. See these recent statistics from Florida:
Second, the church handbook states that even these circumstances do not automatically justify abortion. Some contend that in order for abortion to be legalized for these circumstances, it has to be legalized for all cases. The rare exceptions are used to make wide-ranging policy to the detriment of millions of babies.
3. There is no clear doctrine on when the spirit enters the body.
Many members use past statements by church leaders to justify that abortion really isn’t murder. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught, “Mortality is fully upon us when we first breathe the breath of life“. Using this quote as a weapon doesn’t make much sense because it really doesn’t matter when the spirit enters the body. The Plan of Salvation teaches that we all lived as spirit sons and daughters of God before coming to this earth, so whether the spirit enters the body at conception or at birth is irrelevant. Another quote from President David O Mckay is often cited: “Undoubtedly the nearest approach we have to definite knowledge on this subject is the statement made by the Savior, 3 Nephi 1:13, wherein he said: “Tomorrow come I into the world.” This indicates that the spirit takes possession of the body at birth. Life manifests in the body before that time would seem to be dependent on the mother.” The irony of using this quote as a tool to promote abortion is that it comes from a letter where the church condemned abortion as a very sinful act.
Here was an especially repulsive take using this logic on “The Mormon Blog:”
Forget the fact that we teach and cherish chastity because of the creation of life that it involves. Forget the countless statements by our leaders regarding the evils of abortion. Let’s promote doctrinal “gray area” in order to subvert the Gospel of Christ and the Plan of Salvation.
4. The church has not favored or opposed legislation regarding abortion.
While technically true, the church has not taken official stances on many proposed legislative proposals. However, Church leaders have been very clear on the immorality of abortion. Here are just a few examples:
“Abortion must be considered one of the most revolting and sinful practices in this day when we are witnessing the frightening evidence of permissiveness leading to sexual immorality.” – 1973 First Presidency Letter
“What is happening to our appreciation of the sanctity of human life? Abortion is an evil, stark and real and repugnant, which is sweeping over the earth. I plead with the women of this Church to shun it, to stand above it, to stay away from those compromising situations which make it appear desirable. There may be some few circumstances under which it can occur, but they are extremely limited and for the most part improbable. You are the mothers of the sons and daughters of God, whose lives are sacred. Safeguarding them is a divinely given responsibility which cannot be lightly brushed aside.” – President Gordon B. Hinckley, October 1998
“When one knows the doctrine, parenthood becomes a sacred obligation, the begetting of life a sacred privilege. Abortion would be unthinkable.” – Elder Boyd K. Packer, October 1983
“We oppose and abhor the damnable practice of abortion and every other unholy and impure act which strikes at the very foundation of the home and family, and our most basic institutions.” – President Ezra Taft Benson, April 1973
There is no gray area when it comes to the church’s stance on elective abortion. The official stance of the church can be read here on ChurchofJesusChrist.org under Gospel Topics. Members who promote abortion should repent and seek to change their worldview so it aligns with the church and its leaders.
- “Reverence for life” – Elder Russell M. Nelson, April 1985
- “Abortion: An Assault on the Defenseless” – Elder Russell M. Nelson, Ensign October 2008
- “The Sanctity of Life” – Elder James E. Faust, April 1975
You can follow The Common Sense Guy on Twitter at @TheTrueAggie.