The Mormon Church's Stance on Abortion

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As the days dwindle to a few before next Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses, GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney’s flip-flop record on abortion is the subject of a recent burst of text messages received by Iowans.
Since Romney is not just a Mormon but a former pastor (“lay clergy”) and ward bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the LDS’ position on abortion should therefore govern his stance on abortion.
Fellowship of the Minds’ co-founder Joan (“Joandarc”) grew up in Salt Lake City and is more knowledgeable about the Mormon faith than I am. The following is from her research into the LDS Church’s official stance on abortion.

According to the book, When Mormons Call, published by Catholic Answers, pages 54 and 55, the actual position of Mormonism on this subject is as follows:

Abortion: Compare the [LDS] church’s statement in its 1988 handbook, Gospel Principles, with that of the 1992 edition: 

1988 edition:  There is no excuse for abortion unless the life of the mother is seriously threatened (241).

1992 edition:  There is seldom any excuse for abortion.  The only exceptions are when — 1. Pregnancy has resulted from incest or rape; 2.  The life of the woman is in jeopardy in the opinion of competent medical authority; or 3.  The fetus is known, by competent medical authority, to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.  (251).

Prior to the 1992 printing, the Mormon church permitted abortion if the mother’s life were seriously threatened.  While appearing stringent, this is a pro-abortion stand.  It permitted the killing of the innocent unborn child to “save” the life of the mother–a situation that medical science has rendered virtually nonexistent and which sound moral theology has always rejected as “doing evil that goood may come.”

The more recent Mormon position is of course the “politically correct” one.  Since church policy is determined by divine revelation, apparently God has loosened His law.
Ask your Mormon acquaintances about a “fetus.”  Chances are, they’ll quote (correctly) leaders’ statements referring to the unborn “child” and innocent “human baby.”  Then ask them about their church’s position on abortion.  They’ll probably say, “We’re pro-life,” or “Only in the case of the mother’s life.”  Then point out the true Mormon position and ask them to justify it.  How can the church be so “pro-life” yet permit the killing of an “innocent child” in so many cases?”

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14 responses to “The Mormon Church's Stance on Abortion

  1. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (aka LDS or Mormons). Unfortunately, this post does not address our church’s position on abortion completely, or entirely accurate. First, you see, the blogger apparently left out this statement, directly following these exceptions:
    “The Church teaches its members that even these rare exceptions do not justify abortion automatically. Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons involved have consulted with their local church leaders and feel through personal prayer that their decision is correct.”
    A conference report by Elder Nelson in October 2008, titled, “Abortion: An Assault on the Defenseless” given by one of our Church’s general authorities, is an excellent resource further explaining the Church’s position on abortion.
    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has consistently opposed the practice of abortion. More than a century ago, the First Presidency wrote, “We again take this opportunity of warning the Latter-day Saints against those … practices of foeticide and infanticide.
    Early in his presidency President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) said: “We have repeatedly affirmed the position of the Church in unalterably opposing all abortions, except in two rare instances: When conception is the result of forcible rape and when competent medical counsel indicates that a mother’s health would otherwise be seriously jeopardized.” 14 Current policy now includes two other exceptions—incest and if the baby cannot survive beyond birth, as determined by competent medical counsel. Even these exceptions do not justify abortion automatically. It “should be considered only after the persons responsible have consulted with their bishops and received divine confirmation through prayer.”
    The author also does not care to point out in her blog that in communities where our Church membership is high, such as in Utah and Idaho, abortion rates are consistently at or near the bottom in the Nation. Indeed, our faith believes and preaches about the sanctity of life. Elder Nelson reiterates this doctrine:
    “As sons and daughters of God, we cherish life as a gift from Him. His eternal plan provides opportunities for His children to obtain physical bodies, to gain earthly experiences, and to realize their divine destinies as heirs of eternal life.”

  2. I reiterate what I said in the post, that Mormons do have exceptions allowing abortion as set out above No amount of further edifiction can change your pubished textual teachings.

  3. The exception to abortion that I really find offensive is exception #3, if the fetus has severe defects that will not allow it to survive beyond birth. How would any human being know whether or not a life would survive or not survive after birth? Only God has jurisdiction and knowledge over life. If a fetus is defective and lives, then the defective child is a holy child, just like a child without defects, totally innocent and made in the image and likeness of God. I was told many years ago that my son would not live through his teen years. I told the doctor that he has no knowledge or jurisdiction to proclaim how long my son would live. He is now in his thirties. Life is life, is life, which is God’s jurisdiction!

  4. Sage – That is correct. They are a polytheistic faith theologically. I do not think even members of the Mormon Church realize what their doctrines really are. There are so many, many good and wonderful Mormon people. For me, the road to purity and holiness is bearing defects and bearing suffering, although imperfectly, but through Jesus. Our Lord told us, “Take up your cross and follow me.” I once had a lady say to me in my kitchen (I was making a gourmet salad and we had purchased pizza-this was the first time I met her), looking me up and down like she was accessing my crippled status, “Boy, you’re in need of a miracle!” I brought her into my entry way where a crucifix of the body of Our Lord is upon the wall. I pointed to it and said, “What makes you think that a miracle hasn’t already occurred. Jesus said to take up our cross and follow Him.” She said nothing. Defects and difficulties bring us closer to Jesus, Our Sweet Lord. May God bless you and keep you dear Sage!

  5. When people attempt to research what I believe as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I believe they should search official published teachings, and not just in bits and pieces that can be taken out of context.
    The Church’s issued statement on Abortion in 1991 says, “The Church recognizes that there may be rare cases in which abortion may be justified—cases involving pregnancy by incest or rape; when the life or health of the woman is adjudged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy; or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But these are not automatic reasons for abortion. Even in these cases, the couple should consider abortion only after consulting with each other, and their bishop, and receiving divine confirmation through prayer. The practice of elective abortion is fundamentally contrary to the Lord’s injunction, ‘Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.’ (D&C 59:6.) We urge all to preserve the sanctity of human life and thereby realize the happiness promised to those who keep the commandments of the Lord.”
    I responded earlier with what I feel is the best explanation of this statement above by one of our current church leaders included in Church publications. In his discourse, Elder Nelson spoke about the death-rate in wars and how ironically society is sanctioning a war called abortion against the defenseless and voiceless. He discusses the divine doctrine “thou shalt not kill.” He addresses other topics: adoption—a loving decision that blesses the child, and repentance. What is wrong with explaining our position? Rather than have someone less familiar with our teachings offer to explain it, I suggest people go to the source. In addition to Elder Russell M. Nelson’s talk in 2008, titled “Abortion: An Assault on the Defenseless” there are 82 other references from Church Leaders past and present that people can read by going to and typing in abortion in the search field. This way people can read what our Church’s position is, what it has been over the years, and come to a correct understanding of what we believe regarding the sanctity of life and war being waged of the unborn.
    I would like to bring up two more points. First, the scriptures teach “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Look at our church membership collectively today and that should say something of how our doctrine influences our lives. In states such as Utah and Idaho, where membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is high, abortion rates are low (near or at the bottom of the country.) A Pew Forum Study released in Jan. 15, 2009, showed Mormons as a whole were second to Jehovah’s Witnesses in saying abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. That number was even higher than Evangelicals. Now you can take it for what it’s worth.
    Second point, the commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” still applies to political pundits as it does people. I know to one degree or another, each of the recent candidates have fallen short in this category and it is disgusting. However, when my Church is misrepresented, it is more than just a single politician. It is especially important to recognize that even though we may be different players in the field of life, so to speak, we all wear the same colored jersey as children of loving Heavenly Father. We each deserve the respect of one another.

    • Thank you, James, for the information you gave us. I agree, we are all children of the same loving Father. I just wish Mormons, too, believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Second Person of the Triune Godhead.
      “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
      God bless.

  6. James, I quoted accurately what is stated in the Mormon publication, “Gospel Principles,” 1992 edition, as to the Mormon teaching on abortion. Nothing that you said is contrary to what I quoted. There are three exceptions Mormons recognize which allow abortion. That is not a pro-life position, once again, no matter how you edify that.
    I could go into many doctrines of Mormonism that are contrary to the teachings of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, but frankly at this time, my arms are hurting horribly, and the pain I am experiencing is not allowing me to continue to type in any kind of voluminous fashion.
    Nevertheless, you sound like a very sincere and wonderful person. Before I typed this response, I offered in advance, my day for you tomorrow to Jesus, Our Lord, and I have asked the Blessed Mother Mary, the angels and the saints, all of the Church Triumphant, to help you. Take care!

  7. Meanwhile, lotion manufactures are using dead baby tissue in their lotion products. Is there any continuity in our ethical judgements?

  8. The deep dark secret of the homosexual community is the high percentage of its members that seek out sex with underage boys. Consider the following:
    ” * The Gay Report, published by homosexual researchers Jay and Young in 1979, revealed that 73 percent of homosexuals surveyed had at some time had sex with boys 16 to 19 years of age or younger.
    * Although homosexuals account for less than two percent of the population. they constitute about a third of child molesters. Further, as noted by the Encino, Calif.-based National Association for research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), “since homosexual pedophiles victimize far more children than do heterosexual pedophiles, it is estimated that approximately 80 percent or pedophile victims are boys who have been molested by adult males.
    * A nationwide investigation of child molestation in the Boy Scouts from 1971 to 1991 revealed that more than 2,000 boys reported molestations by adult Scout leader.
    * A study of Canadian pedophiles has shown that 30 percent of those studied admitted to having engaged In homosexual acts as adults, and 91 percent of the molesters of non-familial boys admitted to no lifetime sexual contact other than homosexual!” (Source)

  9. Quote Dr. Eowyn,
    “I just wish Mormons, too, believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Second Person of the Triune Godhead.”
    I don’t understand where you get this opinion. If you know anything about the; “Mormon” church, you would realize the Church has Jesus Christ as its head; hence the actual church name The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). The biggest difference between the Church and other Christian faiths is the “Mormons” (Saints) believe The Godhead is comprised of three SEPARATE individuals. It is actually believed That God is God and his ACTUAL son is Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost is a spirit (without physical body). The Lord sent His son, actual son; not a piece of Him or He Himself, to us to organize his father’s true church on this earth. The Holy Ghost is a spirit that can be within all of us (through proper baptism/confirmation) guiding us to make the proper choice. My point is the LDS Church is the only major Christian religion that believes Jesus Christ is an actual person.
    As far as Joan’s observation that LDS text changes, yes. It does. That’s why the Saints have a prophet. We MUST realize that the true and living God has vastly more knowledge/planning ability than Joan, and believe it or not God, also, has free agency so He can/does change/adjust at His own discretion. The Lord reveals things in His own time, because He knows human nature, advances in technology, and human ingenuity. Not on a timeline that suits Joan (people who share her perspective). How small-thinking is the person who thinks they can change/adjust according to plan, but The Lord Himself cannot. The fact of the matter is the Church leaders have NEVER indicated they have all the answers. The Church sets guidelines members are to follow, but correct choices are not always made by simply following texts. One MUST try three things prior to truly understanding the “Mormon” faith. First begin by reading the Book of Mormon while truly searching for the truth. Secondly, sincere prayer asking God if what one is reading is actually true. This does work for skeptics, but not always for people who go into it with nefarious purposes on their minds (the Holy Ghost cannot reside where evil resides and vise versa). Individuals usually stop at this point if they don’t get the response for which they are looking. In my experience true Catholics stop here, because they have a problem actually getting in the church for service. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re use to their services and like them, or if there is something else keeping them from even attempting it. Attending service(s) is the third key component of having a full knowledge of what the Church is, and how it fits into one’s life. I respect people’s opinions, I certainly don’t intend to come off as harsh or obtuse, but so many people have opinions about the Church without even investigating it. I wonder where people come up with their “facts” about the LDS Church? Hopefully not off a blog where oftentimes the motto may seem to be: I’m never going to actually look into this, but I’ll sure judge and demean as I see it with the smallest breadcrumbs of biased information I can dig up to support my point. I’m no religious scholar, but I believe I know just a bit more than Joan, or some drive-by poster flat-out accusing a Christian religion of being satanic. People speak of how the LDS Church is strict or overbearing, but without trying it or having a real knowledge of it said people will never know how free it actually makes you.


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