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The Worth of Souls is Great: Understanding The Church of Jesus Christ’s Position on Abortion

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The Supreme Court of the United States of America recently overturned the Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973, which stated that women had the right to an abortion without excessive government intervention. In their new decision, issued on June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court ruled that there is no constitutional right to an abortion. The decision to allow or prohibit abortions will be delegated to the states. 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made an update to its official statement on abortion. The overall position of the Church remains the same, but an added paragraph at the end of the statement says, “The Church’s position on this matter remains unchanged. As states work to enact laws related to abortion, Church members may appropriately choose to participate in efforts to protect life and to preserve religious liberty.”

As this decision will have repercussions for church and state across the country, we must be ready to defend righteous principles and engage thoughtfully when needed. We must “appropriately choose to participate in efforts to protect life and to preserve religious liberty.” To do that, we need to understand the basic principles behind The Church of Jesus Christ’s position on abortion.

The Worth of Souls is Great

At Mount Sinai, the prophet Moses received the commandment and moral imperative “thou shalt not kill.” In 1831, the prophet Joseph Smith received the same commandment but with an addendum:  “Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.”

Life is precious and sacred to God. Deliberate destruction of life is contrary to the command and will of God. Jesus Christ has said through modern revelation that He values each soul and desires they be given an opportunity to learn and grow in this mortal existence. “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God,” He taught. “For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.”

The Church’s updated official statement on abortion says, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life.” It is the responsibility of the Church and its members to uphold that reverence for life. To not kill, nor do anything like unto it.

Upholding The Rights of Unborn Children

President Russell M. Nelson, a cardiothoracic surgeon for nearly forty years, said, “Elective abortion has been legalized in many countries on the premise that a woman is free to choose what she does with her own body. To an extent, this is true for each of us, male or female. We are free to think. We are free to plan. And we are free to do. But once an action has been taken, we are never free from its consequences.”

“When the controversies about abortion are debated, ‘individual right of choice’ is invoked as though it were the one supreme virtue. That could only be true if but one person were involved. The rights of any one individual do not allow the rights of another individual to be abused. In or out of marriage, abortion is not solely an individual matter.”

“Terminating the life of a developing baby involves two individuals with separate bodies, brains, and hearts. A woman’s choice for her own body does not include the right to deprive her baby of life—and a lifetime of choices that her child would make.” 

Unborn children are individuals and have rights. The stance of the Church seeks to protect the rights of those unborn children by opposing the termination of unborn or potential life. No statement or policy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints intentionally seeks to infringe on the rights of any citizen or individual, but it is often the attitude of popular opinions of the day to believe that opposition to abortion infringes on an individual’s right to choose. However, it is often the purveyors of this opinion, while seeking to evade personal responsibility, that infringe on the rights of others by seeking to take away the life of unborn children.

Principles of Personal Responsibility

The Church’s official statement on abortion continues, “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.”

It is a common fallacy today to believe that responsibility begins when pregnancy occurs, but the choice to engage in sexual intercourse precedes it. President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “In the context of lawful marriage, the intimacy of sexual relations is right and divinely approved. There is nothing unholy or degrading about sexuality in itself, for by that means men and women join in a process of creation and in an expression of love.”

When a man and a woman choose to engage in sexual intercourse they carry out an act of creation. Within safe boundaries, that act is encouraged, but indiscriminate sex where that creative power is abused is common today. Personal responsibility must begin there, in the freedom to choose to exercise the power to create, and not when a pregnancy becomes a burden. To discard that responsibility and end life for the ease of social convenience is unethical and immoral.

Protecting Those in Adverse or Harmful Circumstances

The Church of Jesus Christ does not oppose all 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.”

It is understood that there will be circumstances of pregnancy that are the result of abuse or that are dangerous to the mother or child. In these circumstances, it is accepted and encouraged to evaluate the moral and physical repercussions of abortion.

Following the previous declaration, the official statement continues, “Even these exceptions do not automatically justify abortion.” This statement is not meant to dissuade abortion in these circumstances, but rather to impress upon the minds of those considering the significance of the decision. Protecting potential life is important, but the well-being of a mother is just as important as that of a child and must be taken into consideration.

Get Involved

There are many practical ways you can get involved to help prevent irresponsible abortions:

Love One Another and Stand for What’s Right

This is a complex issue. We will have neighbors, friends, and family who have different views. As we grapple with the repercussions of the Supreme Court’s decision, we need to find the balance to act as Christ did. We need to love one another and be understanding. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” But we must also uphold righteous principles.

When Captain Moroni of the Book of Mormon saw righteous principles under attack, wrote on his Title of Liberty, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children” “Ye are my witnesses,” the Lord said to ancient Israel, “and my servant whom I have chosen.” When we stand for what is right, we will contribute to the protection of life and the defense of civil and religious liberties.

References

States Guide to Abortion Laws

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Official Statement on Abortion

Pew Research Center Statistics on Abortion

Abortion: An Assault on the Defenseless

Selected Teachings on Abortion

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

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Tyler Nelson
Tyler Nelsonhttps://anchor.fm/tyler-brian-nelson
After serving a mission to Samara, Russia, Tyler graduated from Utah Valley University with a degree in Creative Writing. Tyler is the author of Away From The Sun, a short collection of his written works. He lives in Provo with his drop-dead gorgeous wife, enjoys playing basketball, playing the banjo, studying history, and collecting Pokemon cards. Follow Tyler on Instagram @therealtylerbnelson

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