Latter-day Saints for Life

My family and I recently participated in the March for Life, the big annual pro-life march in DC, so I’ve been thinking about a variety of things related to that  (in no particular order).

To what extent should you use your religious affiliation as an adjective for your political identity (or vice-versa)? On the left there are certainly examples of this (Mormons for Marriage, MWEG, etc.), but what are we trying to say when you do this? My wife didn’t want to create the “Latter-day Saints for Life” poster because she would have marched whether she was religious or not (there is a “Secular Pro-Life” group that has a presence every year at the march; a non-religious version of me, of course, would have probably spent that weekend eating pizza and playing video games). I suspect there are both religious-community and political-community facing reasons for combining the two. We want both of those communities to know that we can be X and a Latter-day Saint. For some, I suspect that there is also a desire to draw attention to a particular strand of Latter-day Saint thought that comports with that political/social position. 

The Hari Krishna temple in Springville, Utah is a fascinating example of this. They do not proselytize about becoming Krishna (not that I would find it unwelcome if they did), but they do have materials about how good Latter-day Saints should refrain from eating meat (and they’ve certainly done their homework, so if you don’t want to lose your testimony of your carnivore diet come prepared when you visit). The fact is that there is enough prophetic discursive material among Latter-day Saints that you can take almost any social/political issue and build up an exegetical body of conference or other quotations that supports at least aspects of that position. 

The Latter-day Saints for Life case is certainly no different. Occasionally there is a dedicated anti-abortion talk, but they come at the cadence of about once every ten years or so. Occasionally people try to argue (some more convincing than others) that not only does a position enjoy the support of this or that quote, but that it is the natural outgrowth of some fundamental aspect of Latter-day Saint doctrine. For me on this note, my abortion position stems more from emotion-based moral sentiments than from some systematic theological exegesis (my use of “emotion” should not be seen as synonymous with weak; some of the most important ideological and political innovations were based more on emotion than some graduate school-level moral calculus equation, although there is interplay between the two); I fully recognize that Latter-day Saint theology on this issue is more ambiguous and less systematic or central than, for example, the Catholic case.

There is a reason that ours was the only “Latter-day Saints for Life” sign there (that we could see), whereas just about every Catholic institution of note had very visible representation. I get the sense that every religion has the attention space and bandwidth for maybe ten signature issues (possibly excepting the Jehovah’s Witnesses; in all my discussions with them I’ve never quite figured out what their thesis statement is, but that’s probably more my failing than theirs); others may occasionally get attention but they aren’t the emphasis. Catholics have decided that anti-abortion sentiment is one of their top ten, whereas for us it’s probably somewhere between items 50-100. 

I’m not suggesting the Church makes abortion a top ten issue and, say, has 5th Sunday lessons on the subject (for me the most boring Church related discussions take the general form of people saying: “X is really important to me, I wish that they would emphasize X in general conference or the Sunday School curriculum like they emphasize Y.”’), I’m just making an observation. However, anti-abortion sentiment ranks higher in emphasis than many other issues that probably get a larger “Latter-day Saints for X” protestor draw, but I wonder how much of that draw is the excitement of living a political paradox, whereas being a Latter-day Saint for Life doesn’t have the thrill of living that paradox, but is also not a “top ten issue” for the Church, even though many members we talk to are jealous that we are in a position to be able to attend pro-life marches and I suspect there is a lot of latent pro-life energy in the Latter-day Saint community at large.


65 comments for “Latter-day Saints for Life

  1. Well, I hope what I write comes under the heading of charitable comments.

    1. I am a practicing, believing Latter-day Saint.
    2. I dislike abortion. I consider myself pro-life.
    3. I dislike pro-choice fanaticism. I also dislike pro-life fanaticism.
    4. I dislike abortion on demand, but I dislike even more attempts to make it impossible for a woman to get an abortion, should she think it necessary.
    5. My late wife was a Registered Nurse for almost 50 years. She was raised Catholic, and converted to the Church when she was 23. I had four children by her. She disliked abortion. She was also opposed to men having any legal say in whether or not a woman can have an abortion. She said that it needs to be the woman’s choice. Her views were reinforced by decades of dealing with heavy-handed sexist Mormon male priesthood leadership.
    6. I agree with her views. It is possible and, in my opinion, ethically preferable, to be both pro-life and pro-choice.
    7. I prefer members of the Church to not use their religious affiliation, when involving themselves in political issues—on any subject. I don’t want to see people in church wearing Biden or Trump T-shirts.
    8. The Church’s position on abortion, while generally pro-life, is not completely so. It is nuanced. “Latter-day Saints for Life” is a mechanism guaranteed to exacerbate cultural wars, however well-meant.
    9. While I grant anyone the right to feel whatever they want to on the question of abortion, I personally feel that our country’s biggest moral failure is its inability to deal with homelessness, hunger, and the falling apart of our social fabric.

  2. Yes generally to the statements of Taiwan Missionary and ji. I would just add that I strongly believe that actually being pro-life requires support for a whole bunch of work not generally taken on by pro-life activists. If we truly want to end abortion, I do not believe the answer is to outlaw abortion. The answer needs to involve changing our world in ways that free women from circumstances that cause them to feel they need an abortion. If you would abandon those women after the baby is born, I don’t see how you can call yourself pro-life.

  3. I would add that I have adopted children. I am hugely and eternally grateful for the birth families who chose to place those children for adoption. At the same time, I do not think my infertility should be used as a reason to outlaw abortion. Adoption is a HARD road for EVERYONE involved. Please treat it as a separate issue.

  4. Totally agree with tiwan. I agree that abortion should be legal and rare. US has one of the highest abortion rates in the OECD, because those who are pro life are often anti the things that reduce abortion ie. Sex education, and affordable birth control. In most countries abortion has not been politicised so there are agreed ways to reduce legal abortion. If by being pro life means you believe you should be able to impose your views/ideology on others you seem to be disrespecting the women who are denied sex education, and birth control, and don’t want to live in poverty, so want an abortion.

    If you vote republican because you are pro life which presumably means you want to reduce abortion to a minimum, or does it just mean you want abortion made illegal for ideological reasons?

    You should also be aware of THE GLOBAL GAG RULE, which means when Republicans are in they require any bodies that recieve US foreign aid not allow/mention abortion. These third world bodies also stop providing sex education, and birth control when republicans are in. The result of this is that there are 40 million more abortions and 10,000 more maternal deaths when republicans are in v when democrats are.

    Stephen C. How do you defend these consequences, or is there no support for Republican policy involved in your anti abortion position? With all the information available I have trouble understanding.

  5. Agree 100% with Taiwan and Geoff-Aus. Thank you for your comments—especially for highlighting the difference between limiting women’s choices and providing social programs.

    And Stephen C, please stop—right now—linking your religious affiliation and your political identity. That is a huge problem in the church and when taken to an extreme leads to people running around the Capitol in Moroni costumes. Just stop.

  6. Dot: I can respect that position as long as it is consistent; so, for example, if you likewise criticize Harry Reid for saying “I’m not a Democrat in spite of being Mormon, I’m a Democrat because I’m Mormon.” For me, I’m fine connecting aspects of politics to aspects of religion and vice-versa, but it’s a problem when it becomes the defining or even major part of the religious identity.

  7. @Geoff

    That’s a false dichotomy that’s often trotted out. Being against abortion doesn’t mean not being for medical care, etc. The idea that you can reduce abortion just as much with healthcare or other provisions as you can by restrictions is false. If you want abortion to be rare you ban it. Also, “safe, legal, and rare” is no longer in the Democratic Party platform. It’s, just “safe and legal.” The unborn are now hangnails and it doesn’t matter how many there are.

  8. Stephen C, when you write “the unborn are hangnails and it doesn’t matter how many there are,” what exactly are you arguing? Also, are you suggesting the Church has some official position that aligns with banning all abortions?

  9. I’m saying that for the Democratic Party the unborn are hangnails. The “Safe, Legal, and Rare” approach was used by Bill Clinton, but now we have “shout your abortion,” pro-life democratic politicians are unicorns, and it is rare for mainstream Democratic politicians to suggest that the unborn have any elements of personhood that would make removing them, say, any more substantive than removing a kidney stone. I know I’m being American-centric here, but for the US context that’s where we are now rhetorically.

    If you think that’s what I’m suggesting re the Church you didn’t read the blogpost carefully.

  10. Stephen C, we’ll have to disagree about your characterization of Democrats. I could as easily say that mainstream Republican politicians are conspiracy driven, black and white thinking, auhtoritarians. I mean, sure the Democratic party supports abortion, but to suggest they somehow dismiss unborn children as hangnails is lazy, irresponsible and highly partisan (even setting aside the discussion of when a baby becomes a baby.) I could follow you until that comment.

  11. Steven, Sadly you are misinformed,

    “The highest abortion rates are now found in Latin America and the Caribbean, where abortion is strongly restricted legally.

    “Highly restrictive laws do not eliminate the practice of abortion, but make those that do occur more likely to be unsafe,” the report reads.

    The report’s findings echo those from the National Academy of Medicine last week. It found that, despite claims from some anti-abortion-rights officials, abortion care is overwhelmingly safe in the U.S. It found that abortions can be safely provided in clinics and doctor’s offices.

    The reason rates of abortion in germany, switzerland are 5/100,000 less than a third the US rates 16/100,000 is because thay reduce the rate, by preventing unwanted pregnancy, by sex education, and free birth control, not because it is illegal.

    The global gag rule defunds family planning services which are often the main sourse of medical care, and so 40million more abortions and 10,000 dead women.

  12. The church encourages its members to be politically active and support good causes, and largely leaves the definition of good cause up to the members. In various statements about religious freedom, we’ve also been told it’s important for religious people to be able to be visible as religious people in the public square.

    So go for it, Stephen. There are certainly limits and mistakes to be avoided, but “LDS for ____” is just a bland descriptor. If someone else wants to march as “LDS for Choice,” great, as long as everyone remembers that at any given moment they may need to bring a casserole/be reliant on a casserole from someone in the counterpart organization.

  13. Geoff, pro-choicers tend to look at country-level aggregate abortion rates and point out counterintuitive results. That’s interesting for a first glance, but the problem is there’s no controlling for income, culture, baseline birthrates, etc. High-quality research consistently gives evidence that abortion laws do, in fact, prevent abortions.

    There are dozens of references to academic papers on the topic at this link:

    There are also more papers referred to in the links at the bottom.

  14. Geoff, 99% of the time someone pro-choice makes this claim, they’re pointing to a Guttmacher report that looks at country-level abortion rates and tries to infer causation from these summary statistics without controls. It turns out that baseline birthrate, income, culture, and other variables matter a lot. Careful research both globally and in the US consistently finds evidence that abortion restrictions do work.

    There are dozens of references to academic papers here:

    Also see the links to other write-ups at the bottom, which have more references.

  15. @Brian:

    “I could as easily say that mainstream Republican politicians are conspiracy driven, black and white thinking, auhtoritarians.”

    I would just as easily say that too (although maybe more craven and spineless than “true believers” but that’s another post for another day). 
    The “hangnail” analogy was my own, so to put it more precisely: in the year 2022 it is difficult to find a democratic politician who treats the removal of a fetus as fundamentally different than the removal of anything else that you would take out in any other medical procedure. You might be able to scrounge up a rare quote or two, but in terms of the general rhetoric I stand by that, although I would love to be shown that I am wrong. 

    @ Geoff:

    Yes, I’m aware of the Guttmacher Institute study. However, this is a case of sloppy headline writing, since if you reach the actual paper the media hot take is based on it does not say that allowing abortion decreases abortion rates (, Table 2 is key here). That study is comparing countries in radically different contexts, so I don’t even think it makes a strong “no difference” case. When you compare apples with apples in the US context, more restrictive abortion regimes do indeed lead to lower abortion rates:
    Now, I’m doing this on the fly so I don’t have the time to do a full-fledged literature review, but that’s my reading. 


    Well put.

  16. I don’t think it’s only rhetorical emphasis that leads to more Catholics being at the March for Life — it’s financial. Catholic organizations (parishes, religious orders, schools, para-church organizations, etc.) generously fund trips to attend the March for Life from all over the country; attendance is a part of individual spiritual formation, missions for LDS folks.

    The LDS Church is a lot more stingy when it comes to spending financial resources on protest. (As in: even when it goes all-in, as with Prop 8, it relies on free labor.)

  17. Stephen C., now that’ve you’ve changed your wording (a significant change that perhaps merits its own post) from “unborn” to “fetus,” sure, I can allow you that general, though still slightly problematic, characterization.

  18. @ MH: That is very true. The differential willingness to directly fund political causes might be part of it, but we’re also not getting letters from the First Presidency read over the pulpit on the abortion issue, so I think there’s also an objective difference in emphases. The rhetorical, theological, and financial are all tied up together.

    @Brian: Right, but that just begs the question of whether a fetus is properly characterized as something akin to a human being or to any other clump of cells, or something in between, and that question is essentially the entire abortion debate in a nutshell.

  19. Another thought: compared with the extreme centralization of authority and finances in the LDS Church, the Catholic Church has a lot more nodes of rhetorical authority and financial freedom; subsidiary organizations whose members feel strongly about abortion have the ability to spend money and attention on it. That sort of thing is impossible within LDS Church structures.

  20. In case there is any lack of clarity on the Church’s position, I hope the following will be helpful — emphasis is mine…

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life. Therefore, the Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience, and counsels its members not to submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions.

    The Church allows for possible exceptions for its members when:

    – Pregnancy results from rape or incest, or
    – A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy, or
    – A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.

    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.

    The Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion.

  21. @ MH: Yes, the more decentralized nature of the Catholic Church means there’s more variation from institution to institution, even if in theory I believe there are pressures and mechanisms involved in preventing people going the other way (for example, I doubt an apostate Catholic Bishop would get very far trying to use diocesan funds to bus parishioners to a “Catholics for Choice” parade).

    @ ji: Thank you! Yes, the Church does not have a position on abortion legislation per se pro or con. In terms of the “oral law,” there are Ensign and General Conference quotes from the brethren that strongly argue against pro-abortion legislation:

    “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.
    President Nelson,

    Also see President Oaks

    However, I recognize that quotes in various contexts are superseded by the official Church handbook, and this goes back to my original point: on balance the “oral law” tips towards pro-life, but it falls short of official Church imprimatur. Of course, how much the oral law plays into one’s own political preferences is another question.

  22. It isn’t just written over oral, it is also recency. 2001 and 2008 were a long time ago, and before they were in leadership positions where they wrote what is now written.

    Elder Anderson spoke on abortion in a 2021 general conference address — his message of church members offering real person-to-person help (including financial help) to women who might be facing an abortion resonated with me. Yes, he also encouraged members to share their thoughts with others who might be willing to listen.

  23. I like this quote from Neil L. Andersen vis-a-vis safeguarding life:

    “What is our responsibility as peaceful disciples of Jesus Christ? Let us live God’s commandments, teach them to our children, and share them with others who are willing to listen. Let us share our deep feelings about the sanctity of life with those who make decisions in society. They may not fully appreciate what we believe, but we pray that they will more fully understand why, for us, these decisions go well beyond just what a person wants for his or her own life.”

    He doesn’t saying anything about using the church’s name — and I don’t know how I feel about that — but he clearly supports the idea of being politically active to make others aware of our stance.

    That said, I’m all for people knowing that *this* Latter-day Saint (talking about myself) is generally against abortion–and I don’t think Elder Andersen would have any problem with individual members of the church making known their religious affiliation so long as they comport themselves as saints.

  24. @ji:

    Great point, time since communicated is another relevant variable (as much as I like the Deseret Alphabet)…


    I love that quote too.

  25. Forcing abortions to move outside the US or underground is a faint victory. You’ve oppressed the poor, and have hardly impacted those with resources to go to Canada or abroad. To get what you wanted we’ve got political hacks as justices on the Supreme Court. A sorry victory at best.

    Protest all you like. Just leave the Church’s name out of it. But you won’t, so I lose. The Church loses. The US Supreme Court loses with ideologues as justices. You and your family might consider more nobles causes like fighting poverty.

    Until the Church decides when the spirit and body are Joined, abortion is not an interesting subject.

  26. I’m for respectful , intelligent, well-versed, fair dialogue and debate.

    We don’t have remotely near enough of it in America. It seems everything is driven by who can get the most power, and s/he with the most power abusing it in a way that attempts to silence others who have less of it. This is true at work, every single day, and is true at home, every single day, and is true at church, every single Sunday, and it is true in life and politics ad nauseum. The antidote? Respectful , intelligent, well-versed, fair dialogue and debate

    All my life I have heard about the silent majority. There is a part of me that is grateful for that… i.e. – “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” There is something also that is noble about somebody who simply stays silent. As if their silence alone proves they must have greater wisdom. Especially feels true when they finally decide to speak, and it is always quality and thoughted.

    So which is it?

    Far too often my favorite answer is the unrealistic one. I believe everybody should speak up and be heard. Nobody’s opinons should remain in silence. There shouldn’t be so many social stigma’s assigned that people feel uneasy about sharing or modifying their true opinions, and thereby maybe not get their honest views and actions. Creating a lot of unspoken rules, like whether or not it is ok to attach a religious affiliation to political position is the opposite of respectful, intelligent, well-versed, fair dialogue and debate. It is somebody who is ok with “taking power” with their bigger more outspoken personality and telling others, who maybe have more submissive or quiet personalities, how to think and behave.

    This is my long lead-in to my stance that … If I am both LDS and I like baked Cheetos, I should feel socially free to hold up a sign in a crowd, or wear a t-shirt that says “Mormons for Cheetos.” Or “Mormons for Biden”, or “Morons for Trump” for that matter.

    When I served a mission on the Texas / Mexican border I heard the quote fairly often — “Cada cabeza es un mundo.” Translation: “Each head is its own world.” I wish we recognized that more. And stopped trying to label and categorize everybody into large-group stereotypes. A t-shirt that says “I’m a Pro-choice Mormon,” for example, would be great. In its own little way, it helps people realize that no two people fit perfectly into a single box.

    Let people speak, and if you are committed to being present at that moment, whether it is a church class, a family conversation, or a work meeting, or wherever you are, then listen with respectful interest.

    My few cents.

  27. You do you. But I’m with many of the comments above including Taiwan Missionary and PWS. If you really are a latter-day saint for life, I think there might be better ways to support life than marching with a sign. But if you had a good time, despite what looks like a chilly day, then cheers. After all, I don’t spend every waking moment of my day supporting my pet causes (which include serving on a non-profit that provides arts to underfunded schools, volunteering at the animal shelter, and giving money as I do), though I do the best I can.

  28. @rogerdhansen: And if the Church did come out with a policy on when body and spirit are joined would it matter to your position?

    @Chadwick: That’s wonderful that you support those causes; I don’t see why it’s an either or, and if you accept the premises of the pro-life position that’s a pretty big cause.

  29. I think the counsel we’ve received thus far is sufficient to get us moving in the right direction.

  30. Stephen, You give articles which you say show that making abortion illegal will reduce the number of abortions, when the article actually says there are fewer abortions in countries where abortion is legal than in countries where it is restricted. Your idology can sway your judgement, but it cannot change the facts.

    You keep repeating that the way to stop abortion is to make it illegal. I understand that is your ideology but TOTALLY NOT SUPPORTED BY FACTS. “We also found that the proportion of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion increased in countries where abortion was legally restricted. High-income countries where abortion is broadly legal had the lowest unintended pregnancy rate, abortion rate, and proportion of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion.” Quotes from the Lancet article which you claim supports your ideology. It does not!

    You at no point address the global gag rule which is a product of your ideology, and causes 40 million more abortions, and 10,000 maternal deaths, when republicans are in than when democrats are in power, and you have the hide to say democrats don’t oppose abortion the way you do. Actions not words. They quietly prevent the carnage your ideology creates.

    The most disturbing part of your ideology is that you feel entitled to impose it on others. Pres. Oaks talks a lot about religious freedom, what about the freedom of a woman to access sex education, affordable birth control, and abortion services. The report you mentioned said 50% of pregnancies are unintended, it also said in poorer places that can rise to 80%. The global gag rule withdraws help for these women, and you want to withdraw that help from poor women in America too.

    Does your ideal world see a women who has a miscarriage, questioned, tried and imprisoned?

    All I can see is wilfull ignorance on your part. Am I wrong?

  31. I’ve given birth to four children. I think it is wrong to force a woman to go through with a pregnancy. It is understandable to want to save lives, but it is not moral to force someone to use their own body to save someone’s life. You would consider it wrong for the government to require you to donate your kidney or liver and justify it that it is necessary to hijack your body keep someone else alive.

    It is reasonable to differentiate between abortion and murder. They are not the same. The church has never treated abortion the same as murder. If a murderer wants to get baptized he needs permission from the First Presidency. If someone has an abortion, they only need to go as high as the mission president.

    If you want to reduce abortions, then increase access to birth control. Abortion goes down. Simple formula. Google it. The facts back it up.

    It makes me upset to think of pro life people who are marching, influence by religious doctrine, thinking they are more moral than people who would kill their unborn child. It is perhaps naive, but most importantly judgmental to focus on it being a sin, without considering it is sometimes the best choice in very difficult circumstances. I can imagine scenarios where I would choose abortion, and a compassionate person would cry with me rather than judge me or prevent me. 60 percent of women who have abortions already are mothers. They don’t have paid maternity leave. They don’t have affordable childcare. They worry about being able to feed and take care of the child/children they already have.

    The real horror is that we have created a society that is so difficult or poor women that they feel they need to make that choice. The poorest 12% of women have 50% of the abortions. 75% of abortions are women who are low income.

    There is no way to prove rape. Medical risks are all individual. Marriages and other relationships can be abusive. Birth control fails. I’ve had my own oops pregnancies, as have most women I know. But my friends are mostly middle class in reasonably stable marriages and extended family support, not worried about being evicted or being unable to feed a toddler if the pregnancy makes her too sick to work.

    God gives personal revelation. I don’t understand a man who can eagerly defend Nephi’s killing of Laban in Sunday School, but is blind to the spirit perhaps influencing a woman’s difficult choice of abortion.

    I would encourage any church member who feels strongly that the government should make abortion illegal, to instead study the teachings of Christ. Emulate the empathy and compassion of our Savior when you think of women in poverty, in difficult families, and impossible circumstances. Donate to women’s shelters to help domestic violence victims. Think a little bit about how paid maternity leave might change someone’s life. About how childcare costs sometimes makes it impossible to add another child to a family. Maybe you can find better ways to advocate to make the world safer to give birth in.

  32. Geoff:

    There’s a lot to unpack here and this wasn’t meant as an in-depth technical analysis of every adjacent legislation. I haven’t done a deep dive into the global gag rule and that’s a separate issue. 

    However, re the “legalizing abortion decreases abortion argument.” The Lancet article does not make causal claims. To do that you require more sophisticated methodology (that the paper I referenced that shows that it does decrease abortion rates has), it just reports averages, and even then it depends on cutting up the data in a very particular way. Table 2 shows that 70% of unintended pregnancies end in abortion in countries where abortion is broadly legal, whereas this number is 50% in countries with abortion restrictions. You only get to parity if you remove China and India, and you only get the juicy “less restrictive countries have lower abortion rates” if you cut up the data even more to look specifically at high income legal abortion countries. 

    Look, I’m a pragmatist, if you were to show me that making abortion legal were to decrease the number of in-utero dismemberments, I would be 100% on board, but pointing out that Sweden has lower abortion rates than Bolivia doesn’t do that.

    @jk: (Also in regards to Geoff’s point) Using increased availability of contraception and all those other things you mentioned aren’t mutually exclusive, and those levers should be pulled as well.

  33. Steven, That sounds like a challenge. It is 10 at night and I have things to do tomorrow then I will show you the information you require. In the mean time you aught to look into the global gag rule. It is a frightening consequence of the life ideology.

  34. 1) Stephen C, stop using the church’s name for your political purposes. Actually, it’s not just the church’s name, it’s also the name of the Lord and using it for any personal or political power grab is the very definition of vanity (taking the Lord’s name in vain), and blasphemy. Bro, as a long-time fellow bloggernacle blogger w you, (and I hope online friend who always reads your posts) I’m here to say- at the beginning of the Mormon moment I once demonstrated and set up political blogs with the words “Mormons/LDS for XYZ”. I wish I could take it all back, because it was wrong and felt icky, but like Jacob Marley, I’m here to tell you- don’t do it. Don’t do it. It’s not our name to use. Have I gone absolutely bezerk on the bloggernacle – at Mike Lee, Elder Oakes’ kids, Julie B Beck, and others for doing the exact same thing? Yes. Is this a tricky area and have we received poor examples from church leaders and history? Yes. It’s a minefield. But Elder Oakes admonished against it in his last Conference talk. We might have missed the mark in the past, but we’re growing. I can swear to you- even if you and I were in 100% agreement on a vital topic, I would still say the same thing- don’t usurp His name. You can feel the static electricity charging for a lightening bolt that way. (I’m trying to be funny, but seriously- this ain’t good.)

    2) There’s a recent MormonLand Podcast w former UTah Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham that everyone should listen to. She articulates the LDS doctrine behind our nuanced abortion policy, and hypothesizes why the church is not pro-life. Furthermore, she lays out a rationale for pushing back against current pro-life cases and laws- with legal and health rationales. Bottom line- we don’t have the same belief as Catholics about life at conception. We acknowledge exceptions and respect the mothers, and perceive legal pathways differently.

    3) Elder Andersen’s address was uncharitable, short-sighted, ran against LDS policy, and should have been edited. Until he supports healthcare as a human right (not a corporate endeavor), education and equal pay and opportunities for women, worker’s rights and fair pay, child care, social services nets, tax reform, etc. he needs to stop oppressing people in desperate situations.

    Abortion rates go down when the economy improves (not the stock market e.g. wealth for the wealthy), but the *economy* does better- when people have the slightest hope of raising children. Being Mormon and paying a humble fast offering, doesn’t clothe, feed, or educate a child for 18+ years. Dropping off a cheesecake or casserole once in a while, or even assisting someone though the bishop’s warehouse for a judgmental time until “they learn” the principle of the prosperity gospel, oops I meant to say, provident living, is not nearly enough. Shall we peel back America’s hunger and child poverty problem? It’s terrifying. Maybe, Elder Andersen, not having led a career in corporate power and R flag-waving, which undermined the very issues above and ultimately- took advantage of the middle and lower classes through privilege, power and money, might have been a start. Systemic racism, and systemic privilege have been causal problems that people in the red velvet chairs rarely raise. It’s much easier to pour the guilt on women whose necks are already under society’s heel. (By the way, disfellowshipping young teens in trouble -or any women for that matter, making them wear scarlet letter As, and forcing them walk in the path they sowed with “more love” is not the way to help improve the abortion rate.)

    4) If you’ve ever heard a family member, friend, etc. say that they were a medical exception- claim that they presented with a one-of-a-kind medical condition that amazed the doctors and nurses, then maybe we need to sit back and realize that there can never be such a thing as a one-size-fits-all medical law that anticipates every contingency involving the uniqueness and diversity of women’s bodies and related environmental/social situations. Sometimes, there are desperate situations that require individual decisions- that can only be made by a woman and her health care team.

  35. Well, maybe I should not weigh in, again. A lot has been said, most of it temperate, much of it good. But I have trouble learning my lesson, so here goes.

    As someone who considers himself mostly pro-life, I will again say that I dislike abortion. Having said that, I must confess that I personally feel that extreme efforts to restrict abortion have at their core a lack of charity toward women who feel that they are unable to take a pregnancy to term. I have known several women in my long life who have chosen abortions, and in all cases, it was a decision reluctantly made, with lingering regrets.

    Let’s show a little charity, please. However recklessly a pregnancy might have been brought about, loving our neighbor as ourself is as important as loving God, and that involves not judging and second-guessing and squeezing into a corner a woman who feels unable to bear a child. Forgiveness means not using the law to hound people who choose to have an abortion.

    Church leaders used to harshly condemn contraception. Thankfully, they no longer do. I prefer to regard Neil Anderson’s recent comments on abortion as a throwback to earlier times. I think our Church’s relative silence on abortion has served it well, as the Church works toward its four-fold mission of:

    1. Preaching the Gospel
    2. Perfecting the Saints
    3. Redeeming the dead
    4. Helping those in need.

    Thank you for considering these things.

  36. Stephen the pragmatist,
    Looking up the references in this article you find that part of the pro life / republican agenda is to remove easy access to birth control and meaningful sex education. You are not pro life on these? If you are voting republican to reduce the number of abortions the above article says you are making a big mistake.

    I have not found a report that says the way to reduce abortion is to make it illegal.

    The Guttmacher­-Lancet Commission recommends that a comprehensive package of essential sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception and safe abortion care, be included in national health systems.

    If you are pragmatic and informed by fact then you can no longer be pro life, can you? Please explain.

  37. Taiwan Missionary,
    I think we have a lot in common, despite some important differences. The problem is, the onslaught of laws in the states and the 3 big cases before SCOTUS (that likely will overthrow R v W), are so extreme as to NOT represent your position. Neither do they represent the church’s long-standing (and we’re talking centuries old) position/policies.

    So many LDS have voted R on this single ticket. And so many are sitting back now, thinking all is well b/c “pro-life” is winning. It’s actually extremely bad for a lot of women, for families, and children. We are NOT evangelicals or Catholics and always have had a different perspective. But many Saints have glommed-on to the popular Christian bandwagon. Now, now is a time to cross the isle – to speak up. If you read the pro-life and pro-choice agenda, you aren’t technically pro-life. You articulated a pro-choice stance. Pro-choice people aren’t out there saying that they don’t value life- that they go get abortions for fun on a shopping day in between a manicure and shoes. Pro-choice is a stance that incorporates the woman’s right to make medical decisions for her body, decisions that are frequently unique and are often the scariest, most horrible medical and emotional traumas you can imagine. When I’ve talked w LDS friends and family about these utterly devastating situations, everyone agrees that there should be exceptions- they agree w the pro-choice platform. But, their identities are rooted in what they perceive to be the “Christian” and “LDS” position, and they cannot fathom being labeled anything else. Yes, pro-choice advocates value life- and they would argue even more so than the pro-life camps that simultaneously look away or who undercut welfare and educational systems, and whose strategies (however odd) are proven to be more effective in saving MORE lives (sex ed, mother/child programs, etc.)

  38. Mortimer:

    I don’t disagree with anything you wrote. It was well-put. So I don’t understand your reference to important differences.

    As I stated in my first (not my second) comment, I am both pro-life and pro-choice. Maybe I should refer to myself as pro-natallst. I prefer that pregnancies go full term, but there have to be options for women who choose for whatever reasons to end a pregnancy. I resent it when fanatics on either side of this issue try to label me, and claim that I cannot be both pro-life and pro-choice. I am NOT referring to your comment to me.)

    In my opinion, many people who call themselves pro-life are just plain unhinged, and that is why we are getting things like this awful Texas law that is currently being batted about from court to court.

    Too often, so-called pro-lifers lose interest in the welfare of the baby, as soon as it is born. To truly be pro-life requires active community support of babies born into difficult circumstances—something that conservatives and libertarians often show scant interest in.

  39. After 1.5 billion abortions (globally) over the last 50 years it’s time to tap the brakes. Sending abortion back to the states isn’t going to stop the practice. But it might send a clear message to lawmakers and practitioners that there are a whole lot of people out there who believe that abortion is a bad thing–generally speaking–and that it needs to be curbed.

  40. Jack: in the ‘70s abortions were occurring at about 29/1,000 women of childbearing age. Now it’s just above 11. Why not go ahead and agree that those brakes: they’ve been nicely tapped.

  41. Jack, No it won’t.

    Abortion is an ideological issue in America. 70% of Republican men, and 60% of Republican women don’t approve of abortion, are pro life. 80% of Democrats believe an abortion should be available to a woman who has an unwanted pregnancy. They also believe she should recieve meaningfull sex education, and affordable birth control so that she can avoid the unwanted pregnancy.

    Combined “While public support for legal abortion has fluctuated some in two decades of polling, it has remained relatively stable over the past five years. Currently, 59% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 39% say it should be illegal in all or most cases”

    So democrats (38% women in power) want to respect the woman and support her with the resources she needs. They are also more likely to provide healthcare, and greater financial help. Republicans in power (14% women) use their power to punish women, and withdraw services from them. Which sounds more Christlike?

    “evidence has consistently shown that the vast majority of women request abortions due to a lack of financial resources(3,4). A Guttmacher Institute study reported that 73% of women cited this as the motivating factor for abortion(4). Under these circumstances there is no way abortion can be called a “choice”. Indeed the Guttmacher institute went on to expressly state in the wake of their study that
    “Qualitative data from in-depth interviews portrayed women who had had an abortion as typically feeling that they had no other choice, given their limited resources and existing responsibilities to others”(5)

    My wife was telling me of an engaged couple discussing children, where the man declares his wife will deliver children naturally and without pain relief. Women becoming aware of this, tell the woman to get out before its too late.

    We expect if this man wants to control his wife, without regard to her feelings/pain, he will be pro life and want to control other women without regard to their situation or circumstances too.

  42. Stephen Hardy,

    You have to figure a doubling of the world’s population since 1970. Even so, I’m certain that fewer women are having to deal with unwanted pregnancy nowadays than before. But we’ve got a long way to go before education and medical technology will end the slaughter of innocents. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed on multiple fronts–and I’m hoping that somewhere along those many fronts that the preaching of the Law of Chasity might have some influence for good.


    While there may be legitimate concerns about changes in the law that could (potentially) affect the health and wellbeing of women I don’t think sending abortion back to the states will have as negative an impact as some fear it might–especially in the “blue” states. And frankly, your scenario about abusive men — while there may be a relatively small percentage who have that kind of influence over their wives/girlfriends — doesn’t bear much resemblance to reality here in the U.S.–which is that men, generally speaking, have been, for all intents and purposes, disenfranchised from decision making vis-a-vis pregnancy and child bearing.

  43. Jack: perhaps you could agree with this: every abortion in the history of the world is the result or responsibility of a male. Sure, of course it takes two.., but let’s not forget that this is primarily the result of males acting irresponsibly. So we have reduced the rate of abortions by 2/3 mostly by focusing on females. Let’s give men their turn. Let’s see if we can reduce the rate of abortion from 11 to 5 per thousand child-bearing age women but accomplish it by penalizing and/or providing incentives to men. It’s our turn, as men, to reduce the rate. Go ahead and start working on the almost never discussed male side if the problem and let’s give the woman side a break for a while. They’ve already reduced the rate by more than half. Step up. Perhaps it’s the men who should take their turn “stepping on the brakes.”

  44. Stephen, I’m all for men being more responsible. In fact, I’m a firm believer that the number one problem in American society is fatherlessness–and most of that problem has to do with men needing to be better men. Even so, with regard to the question of whose turn it is to shoulder the blame for untold millions of abortions–let’s put aside our petty squabbling and, without losing sight of the health and wellbeing of women, consider what’s best for the unborn.

    Re: Population sizes having nothing to do with rates: I’m no mathematician or economist–but if 1 out of 10 people go fishing on Saturday morning then that amounts to one person if the population size is 10. If the population size is double that then the real number of people going fishing will also be doubled. Likewise, if the rate of abortions has been cut in half over the last while but the population size has doubled during that same period of time then the real number of abortions will not have changed.

    3 million abortions (globally) during this month alone is still a slaughter regardless of how the rates may appear to be falling.

  45. Anyone who is anti-abortion should be out there marching for fathers to provide child support from the beginning of pregnancy. (Latter-day Saints for Child Support!) I suspect that would change some things very quickly. Also, what happened to Governor Abbott’s eliminating rape in Texas (his abortion ban didn’t need a rape exemption because he was going to eliminate rape)?

  46. @Dot. Absolutely! But the logical converse is also true: if the unborn are just a clump of cells, and the relevant decision point isn’t at the act of conception but the act of deciding whether to keep it, then they logically have no claim, legal or otherwise, to any support for the child from the father that wasn’t involved in that decision.

  47. @ Geoff (several comments down):

    I don’t have the bandwidth to keep back and forthing on this, but I’ll respond to your point and let you have the last word if you wish.

    I’m saying legal restrictions on abortion lead to lower abortions, you’re making a thousand shotgun arguments at once about the Republican agenda; for the umpteenth time, contraception availability and abortion aren’t mutually exclusive.

    In regards to the Guttmacher study that you again reference, I already addressed that, and in regards to you not finding a study that shows that it decreases abortion, I sent you one in the last comment.

    Again, I’m willing to be shown I’m wrong, but you’ll need to show me a study with time-fixed and/or geography-fixed effects, preferably with some kind of a natural experiment, difference-in-difference approach using standard econometric methods for testing causality to precisely parse out the effects of additional regulations on abortion rates. Just pointing out that rich countries that hate Donald Trump also have lower abortion rates doesn’t do that.

    Google scholar “abortion restrictions” and “abortion rates” if you really want to do a deep dive (Also, getting info from the Guttmacher Institute on an abortion question is like getting info on taxes from the American Enterprise Institute. Sometimes they’re right but there is an overt angle there).

  48. I find the comments on this post, including comments from people whom I respect (though I haven’t met any of you in person) and whose views I often share, to be a bit discouraging. The recurring themes seem to be: 1) abortion is a serious and sad choice/act that should be avoided if possible, but it is in no way equivalent to murder, and it should not be prohibited; and 2) the Church should teach this idea– i.e., that abortion should be taken seriously and avoided if possible– but should mostly leave the decision to individuals to make on their own– thoughtfully and prayerfully, of course. These come across as appealing and sensitive positions, but they seem to me to be ways of avoiding responsibility for the gravity of the matter.

    The first position leaves me quite unclear about exactly why abortion is such a sad, unfortunate, or morally momentous choice. If the fetus (or unborn child, or [choose your description]) is a person, then deliberately taking its life would seem to be a quasi-categorical wrong; and we and the Church presumably ought to say so. (Quasi because we do make exceptions to the prohibition on taking life, for self-defense, etc.) That’s the position that most people (with a few exceptions, like Peter Singer) would take with respect to, say, a one-year-old or one-week-old child. We might acknowledge the serious and even agonizing difficulties that having such a child would pose for some parents. We might believe that the Church or the community or the government should do more than they do to help such parents. We might insist that fathers should step up and take responsibility. But we typically wouldn’t say, well, just leave it to the mother to decide what to do.

    Conversely, if the fetus is not a person, then why is abortion such a sad and serious matter, to be strongly discouraged? I don’t think it’s an answer to say that we are pro-natalist. Sure, having children is a wonderful thing, but in that respect how is abortion different than birth control, etc.? We don’t typically grieve when we learn that someone is using contraceptives because the wonderful blessing of bringing children into the world isn’t being realized.

    These are of course complicated questions that have generated endless discussion, with lots of arguments, distinctions, and nuances. But the comments don’t seem to me to be trying to engage with those questions.

    And although it is surely good to encourage people to make important decisions thoughtfully and prayerfully, saying that isn’t all that helpful just in itself. It is hard to make a decision thoughtfully without knowing what the relevant principles or criteria are. But without some guidance on the kinds of questions noted above, how is a person supposed to know those things? Is a person just supposed to invent her own ethical philosophy for the individual decision? “I want to make the right decision,” someone says, “but it’s a hard question; so can you help me with that?” And if the response is, “Well, be thoughtful. Pray about it. Try to do the right thing,” I submit that this is pretty much not responsive to the question (or to the urgent need for guidance).

  49. For SDS:

    “The urgent need for guidance.”

    This is the problem that I have with those whom I consider to be pro-life zealots. Somehow, the urgent need for guidance always seems to align with their own convictions.

    On abortion, I choose to search for answers in the scriptures, and listen to or read the guidance of Church leaders, — and then I will make up my own mind, seeking God’s guidance in prayer. Many Brigham Young, Joseph Smith, and particularly Dallin Oaks statements support this approach to Church leaders’ counsel. From DHO: The Church teaches principles. Do not ask me if you should be an exemption to what the Church outlines. You must decide that, yourself, through prayer.

    I long ago chose not to let other Church members make up my mind for me—whether on abortion or any other issue. I do not feel obligated to follow self-appointed Right Hands of God.

    I self-identify as independent-minded in my discipleship of Jesus.

    Last word to you, if you so choose. I promise not to respond.

    It is time for me to retire from this post and its comments. So many people’s minds are rigid on this issue.

  50. I agree with SDS–that there is an urgent need for guidance–especially with regard to highly controversial moral issues. It seems like everyone these days is retreating into the mindset that all who wish may be exempt from following general counsel through personal revelation. Now that’s not to say that personal revelation will never lead individuals along a unique path–one that may diverge a bit from general counsel. Even so, it seems like there’s an awful lot of conservative members who believe they’re exempt from following the prophets vis-a-vis the pandemic; and a lot of liberal members who believe they’re exempt from following the prophets vis-a-vis marriage and family. While I don’t want to criticize individuals–I think it’s obvious that there’s a discernible pattern–on a macro level–that would suggest that the saints are not immune to cognitive bias. We need general counsel. Even so, if an individual honestly feels inspired to take a different course than that which has been outlined by the Lord’s anointed–then I won’t judge them. I’d only hope they’d keep it to themselves. Personal revelation should, with rare exception, stay with the person who receives it.

  51. To Taiwan Missionary. If you’ve retired from this discussion you won’t see this, and that’s perfectly understandable. We all have limited time and patience for these things. Heck, I didn’t even join until 50 comments in.

    But just in case, I want to say that there is so much in what you say that I agree with, and sympathize with. I just don’t think these common elements support the kind of soft, leave-it-to-each-person position that you and other commenters here seem to favor. Or the sort of self-congratulation evident in some of the comments declaring happily that our Church, unlike other Christian churches, doesn’t have any very clear position on this matter– and the resistance to any sort of clear instruction on the matter from Church leaders like Elder Anderson (whose talk, alas, I haven’t read– but I will).

    So, like you, I can sometimes find “pro-life zealots” (or pro-choice zealots, or other kinds of zealots) very off-putting. Calling them “zealots” kind of settles the question in advance, but whatever. I can agree with you that such people can seem rigid and unreflective.

    Still, what exactly is their error? It can’t really be, can it?, that the guidance they give “aligns with their own convictions.” What else could they do, or could anyone do? Give guidance that doesn’t align with their convictions?

    And like you, I consider myself an independent-minded believer. I try to reflect and pray and decide for myself. Now in a sense there’s nothing especially interesting or distinctive about that. Doesn’t everyone ultimately have to decide for themselves whether they believe that “the Church is true” or whether instructions from Church leaders are worth listening to? I take it, though, that you’re making a different distinction. Some people will say that once you have come to believe “the Church is true”, thereafter you should just accept as true or valid whatever the Church leaders teach. That’s a coherent enough position and I respect it. Maybe it’s the right position. But as with you, it’s not the position I take. So even if the church leaders did or do offer clear instructions on abortion in the way that, say, the Catholic church does, I wouldn’t consider the question categorically settled. I would still think it’s up to me, and you, to consider, pray, and decide what we believe. On this and other matters.

    But so far as I can see, none of this gives any reason for the Church to refrain from giving clear guidance– guidance that we can then reflect on and choose to follow or not. Or for celebrating that our Church doesn’t give clear guidance on some particular weighty matter, and resisting when in fact the Church does seem to offer such guidance. The Church offers pretty clear guidance on all kinds of matters– properly so, because isn’t that the Church’s role?– and we don’t complain that the Church is interfering with our ability to make our own judgments or form our own beliefs.

    Most importantly, none of this understandable and perhaps warranted dissatisfaction with rigid or unreflective or “sheep-like” discipleship is any excuse for embracing, on this one especially momentous subject, what amounts to a kind of soft, noncommittal, situational ethics. Or for embracing the puzzling, hard-to-justify view that abortion is a very serious and regrettable thing but not one that calls for categorical or quasi-categorical judgments. Not like murder, but still much more serious than contraception. Once again, quite apart from what the Church does or doesn’t teach, what would be the justification for that position?

  52. I appreciate the difficulty of this issue, but as I have grown older have become more and more convinced that a strong stance from the church on reproductive issues would be a good thing. We live in a culture of death in which the prevailing attitude is more and more that humans can and should control all aspects of life (most obviously when birth and death occur and the genetic make-up and parentage of children) through technology and law that backs up this use of technology. In the meantime, the well-being of the most vulnerable among us, children and the aged is of little consideration. I have come to have a bit of envy for the well-worked-out Catholic theology of the body that gives clear guidance on such matters.

    I was in high school when Roe was decided, and at that point determined in my own mind that an incipient child in the womb plus time equaled a baby, and that the mere requirement of time did not make destroying the child OK. It also seemed to me in a very unworked-out way, that making abortion in essence approved by law was a way of separating sex and its consequences, which seemed to be a recipe for exactly what has happened–declining marriage, an unserious attitude toward sex, single parenthood, and all the rest. IOW, I had my concerns about the decision and have lived my own life in accordance with older values and more specifically the values I was given as a young Mormon raised in a Mormon community. I have not once regretted that.

    I think the church should be giving guidance on these questions. People are free to seek their own revelation and go their own way, but these are weighty moral and theological questions and that is the purview of religion. Questions about surrogacy, third party reproduction, transgenderism, abortion and euthanasia are questions of direct concern to religious people who seek to take an eternal view of life. Churches are institutions that help members answer such questions in order to avoid the pitfalls of neglecting them.

    I recently viewed a movie by Jennifer Lahl, who runs the Center for Bioethics and Culture. She more or less allows women who have been surrogates to tell their stories. One of the women was from Utah, and from things she said I think is likely a church member. She participated in several surrogacy pregnancies, and had bad experiences, from medical problems herself to parental rejection of a less-than-perfect child. She would have been spared some sad things if the church had given firm guidance on surrogacy. I believe that at the very least, there are some ethical problems with bringing a child into the world deliberately intending to deny that child his or her genetic mother or father or both. Adoption is necessary in our fallen world, but while genetic connection to a child is perhaps not the most important part of child rearing, it nevertheless gives a child parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and all the rest who are genetically related and part of an identity. The craze over DNA testing shows how important this is to people. Children by and large want to know their biological parents. It is part of their heritage and identity. I know that I understand many aspects of my own children’s character because I recognize that they come from me and their father. It helps me deal with their challenges in life and my own.

    Mormonism is a much younger tradition than Catholicism, but we have a natural way to develop a theology of the body and to emphasize a culture of life. The Proclamation on the Family is a good start. But since we regard our family connections as eternal and God’s way of bringing children into the world as important, we have good grounds to take firm stances on reproductive issues. I hope we see more of these surfacing in the coming years.

  53. As ji says above the church is quite clear on it’s position.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life. Therefore, the Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience, and counsels its members not to submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions.

    (So this is advice for members)

    The Church allows for possible exceptions for its members when:

    – Pregnancy results from rape or incest, or
    – A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy, or
    – A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.

    (The life, and quality of life, of the mother takes priority over the embryo)

    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.

    The Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion

    (We are not trying to impose our views on others on this particular issue)

    There is very little excuse for using this statement to justify being pro life. That the life of the mother takes priority over the embryo and that this is not an area where we should impose our views on others, should particularly give pause for thought.

  54. SDS, so the church has provided some moral leadership on the issue. It isn’t on a moral high-ground to be dictating women’s issues considering it’s past treatment of women, it’s giant patriarchal blind spot, and the fact that women are a severe minority in a secondary rung of leadership who can merely consult, and even then do so with 100% deference to the male hierarchy.

    If we were to look at LDS doctrine, in my opinion it aligns more with Jewish as opposed to mainstream Evangelical/Catholic views on when life begins (first breath instead of conception).

    Granted, more clarity and capital “R” Revelation is needed on the issue, but a wealth of LDS female spiritual experience already exists (granted- on a lowercase “r” level) that has yet to be compiled or studied. I seriously suspect that this particular issue- which is tied to a role specifically assigned to women, will require capital “R” revelation from and on behalf of women as we step into the fullness of the Priesthood (capital “P”) and leadership. #OrdainWomen. As much as we tout the 14 points of revelation and the fact that direct experience is not required to function as a revelator, on this particular issue- women’s voice and statute are required.

  55. Mortimer–woman here. This is not about what women or men think or want. It is a question of supporting a culture of life, according to God’s plan for us. Isn’t the point of religious belief to determine what God requires of us, not what we ourselves want?

    Geoff–I’m astounded that you think the church does not support members being pro-life. I read those statements to say that abortion should only be considered under vanishingly rare circumstances though does not want to become mired in debates about the issue.

  56. MS,
    I’m female as well. And, I see the pro-choice position as being more supportive of a culture of life and more in-line with both God’s doctrine and current church policy. According to the evidence above, exponentially more lives are saved through pro-choice environments. The lives of mothers and their families are best supported through pro choice laws.

    We might see this differently. I urge you and everyone on this thread to watch “Call the Midwife”. Several episodes wrestle with the nuns’ (midwives’) desire to support expectant mothers and unborn children, and the real-life issues of rape, incest, life and death medical
    decisions, illness and terminal deformity, starvation and poverty, forced prostitution, mental illness, spousal and familial abuse, toxic cultures, abandoning fathers, and social stigma. The show doesn’t lean one way or the other- but does an excellent job of describing both points sides, helping watchers empathize and see these situations in a different light. It’s also a well researched drama- with extremely developed characters representing not just hypotheticals- but frequent real-life experiences. I highly recommend binge watching it!

    I’ve never met a Pro-life person who wasn’t also pro gun rights. Typically, Republicans wave the second amendment and cite that it’s their right and duty to defend their home and person- even lethally if needs be. If an attacker trespasses and/or mortally threatens you, most Americans claim the right of self-defense even to death. (Pacifists such as Amish, Mennonites, etc.) are exceptions to this rule and abhor lethal self-defense, unrestricted gun rights, military service, abortion, aid in dying, and capital punishment. LDS do not share this consistent “culture of life”. I’d be surprised and interested to know if you are consistent in your beliefs.

    When a woman is raped (a violent intruder) and/or if a fetus mortally threatens the mother’s life, pro life camps believe the mother should be denied the right to defend herself with commensurate and equal force (abortion). Similarly, the same radical pro-life persons would insist that if a fetus threatened the life of a twin, the mother and physician should not abort it. If you carve out an exception (as the church does) for these instances, how then do you verify that a woman was in fact raped? It takes years to amass a court case. Years. Most actual rape cases can’t be proven, even w the latest and greatest DNA science as the question frequently boils down to consent. I’ve seen statistics that less than 4% of attackers are convicted. We won’t even go into the thousands of rape kits that are never tested by states- kits that sit on shelves or that are even destroyed due to lack of resources. Our processes are woefully lacking and will not be a magic bullet to any practical solution any time soon.

    So, how will someone help a woman the day after? In the early days after the trauma? And, for all the other women who might not have been raped, but are staring down lethal, crippling, abusive and/or crushed lives, how do we as outsiders judge and sentence these women? What about women with mental conditions, histories of extreme PPD, and other personal or environmental situations, should we sentence them to an outcome that you claim God wants for them? (Last time I checked, personal revelation doesn’t work that way.) That isn’t supporting a positive “culture of life” or following in the footsteps of a loving God.

    Similarly, there is nothing akin to a culture of life in supporting unregulated gun ownership amidst an endemic of school and public shootings (the worst in the world) wherein almost daily we see massacres of living persons.

    We haven’t even started talking about aid in dying or capital punishment. But ethically, you can’t draw a pro life argument or whip out “culture of life”’without a consistent framework that includes all these other
    Issues. To the credit of the Catholic Church- its pro life position is consistent w its controversial contraception, euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment stances (if wavering on military service and pacifism). LDS, not so much.

  57. Mortimer–I have watched Call the Midwife. In general I like the show, but of course, dramatic cases are the norm for such shows in a way that does not consistently reflect real life. Most midwives do many, many routine births for every dramatic one. I think the church position, which is mine as well, to allow exceptions for vanishingly rare circumstances like pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, a fetus that is unlikely to survive birth or a genuine threat to the life of the mother (because this can be much too elastic) is pro-life. IOW, the vast, vast majority of pregnancies should be carried to term. I don’t own a gun and support reasonable restrictions on gun ownership.

  58. Assuming that the plight of the sick and poor is increasingly vanishing is quite a privileged statement. Problems abound for most of the world, and a significant portion of women in the US.

    Teen pregnancy rates have been in the decline over the past 20 years, but the US has some of the highest rates of any developed nation. Sadly, conception due to rape or incest continues to exist in the US and globally, especially in areas of war and conflict. We haven’t even broached medical statistics. Although global health has improved since the industrial revolution, new medical challenges (such as obesity, IVF and repro tech, lack of pre/postnatal care, smoking/drug use, environmental and SES challenges including poor nutrition, access to clean water, etc. and advanced maternal age) drag maternal mortality and morbidity rates down in the US and abroad.

    Glad you like Call the Midwife. I have found that most of the births are fairly normal- performed out of hospital by the midwives. But one would expect to find “drama” or the difficult stories in London’s poorest neighborhoods, just as one would in the Bronx, in South Chicago or the most desperate areas of LA. Being a second generation public health worker, in a “boring” part of the US, I can attest that there are many real life stories that aren’t known outside the healthcare establishment, that are not vanishing. Before mandating laws for these women, it would behoove us to walk a mile in their shoes.

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