Amazingly, given the enormous number of Mormons ready to talk about the Great Apostasy, not a single Mormon had anything to say in response to what I wrote last Friday about Mormonism and abortion, after two of my Catholic friends and I had dinner with two Mormon missionaries:
One area where most Mormons are excellent is morality. The two missionaries we spoke to had no problem denouncing abortion as murder, and saying that even in the tough cases (rape, incest, etc.), there are better options. In fact, they pointed to the numerous social services which the LDS Church provided. I said, “I thought your church permitted abortion in some circumstances?” and they denied it. At this point, I read from the official LDS website:
Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged 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 even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.
So in fact, while most Mormons are very pro-life, the LDS Church is much less so. Cary then asked, “Wait, so is murder sometimes okay?” The two missionaries were clearly unaware that their church taught this, and seemed troubled by it. One of them speculated that the local church leaders wouldn’t permit an abortion, despite what it said, but I don’t think he even convinced himself.
The issue is pretty critical. Here’s the general LDS position on abortion, from one of the “Twelve Apostles,” Russell Nelson:
This war called abortion is a war on the defenseless and the voiceless. It is a war on the unborn. This war is being waged globally. Ironically, civilized societies that have generally placed safeguards on human life have now passed laws that sanction this practice.This matters greatly to us because the Lord has repeatedly declared this divine imperative: “Thou shalt not kill.” Then He added, “Nor do anything like unto it.” Even before the fulness of the gospel was restored, enlightened individuals understood the sanctity of human life. John Calvin, a sixteenth-century reformer, wrote, “If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, … it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fœtus in the womb before it has come to light.”Man-made rules have now legalized that which has been forbidden by God from the dawn of time! Human reasoning has twisted and transformed absolute truth into sound-bite slogans that promote a practice that is consummately wrong.
And yet, this same LDS Church says that abortion is sometimes okay, in cases of:
- Incest (even consensual);
- When the life of the mother is in serious danger;
- When the health of the mother is in serious danger;
- When the “fetus” is not going to survive beyond birth.
Is there any explanation for how abortion can be both a war against the defenseless and innocent, forbidden by God before all time, and yet simultaneously be okay? It doesn’t matter if the LDS Church says it’s okay to take one unborn child’s life or a million — they’re sanctioning the very abominable behavior which they excommunicate their members for sanctioning.
That the Mormon church takes a strong stance against the imagined moral evils of “hot drinks,” but buckles in the face of the actual abomination, infanticide, is morally topsy-turvy, to say the least… particularly since they realize it’s child-murder and that it’s contrary to the Will of God. As an outsider, it seems to me that Mormons are either (1) taking an official stance which they know is antithetical to God; or (2) think God both condemns and condones abortion. But God doesn’t contradict Himself – abortion is always and everywhere wrong, and the LDS know, or should know, that.
Even when it comes to killing those babies who are going to die soon anyway, exception #5, the LDS Church knows better:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life, and is therefore opposed to euthanasia. Euthanasia is defined as deliberately putting to death a person who is suffering from an incurable condition or disease. Such a deliberate act ends life immediately through, for example, so-called assisted suicide. Ending a life in such a manner is a violation of the commandments of God.
Finally, those who want to get an abortion are told to “consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer. ” That last step proves the trickiest.
David Bates (Restless Pilgrim) picks up on this, and asks:
If two Mormons pray about a particular issue (e.g. an abortion) and both come to mutually exclusive conclusions, yet both feel in their heart that they’re right, are they both right? If not, how is this resolved?
I don’t know the answer to that, so I’ll leave it open to anyone who wants to tackle it. In fact, let’s present it as a more specific hypothetical: Wendy, a Mormon woman, is raped, and conceives a child. Her husband, Harold, is obviously upset about the rape. Reminded of it every time he sees his pregnant wife, Harold decides he wants her to have an abortion. Wendy has grown attached to her (healthy) child, and feels uneasy about purposely killing him, even if the church says it’s okay.
In keeping with the church’s teaching, they speak to their church leader and pray on it. After much prayer, Harold still believes Wendy should have an abortion, while Wendy believes she shouldn’t. Presuming that they just don’t see eye-to-eye on this, what should Harold and Wendy do, from a Mormon perspective? Should Wendy defer to her husband, or save the life of her child? I’m curious about this because I think it’s illuminating for LDS thoughts on spousal roles, abortion, and the use of prayer in decision-making. Any takers?