Statements by LDS Prophets and Apostles on Legalized Abortion

Michael T. Griffith

10/22/2016

Our prophets and apostles have made it clear that they believe abortion should not be legal and that nations that legalize this practice displease God and run the risk of divine judgment.  All the statements below were made in General Conference talks or in First Presidency messages and/or were printed in official Church publications.

ELDER DALLIN H. OAKS:

From the perspective of the plan of salvation, one of the most serious abuses of children is to deny them birth. This is a worldwide trend. The national birthrate in the United States is the lowest in 25 years, and the birthrates in most European and Asian countries have been below replacement levels for many years. This is not just a religious issue. As rising generations diminish in numbers, cultures and even nations are hollowed out and eventually disappear.

One cause of the diminishing birthrate is the practice of abortion. Worldwide, there are estimated to be more than 40 million abortions per year. Many laws permit or even promote abortion, but to us this is a great evil. (LINK)

ELDER RUSSELL M. NELSON:

For the wrath of God is provoked by governments that sponsor gambling, condone pornography, or legalize abortion. These forces serve to denigrate women now, just as they did in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.  (LINK)

ELDER L. TOM PERRY:

We also have seen the threat of legalized abortion, gambling, pornography, and challenges to public prayer undermining the values that bind us together as a community of Saints.

Clearly, the members of the Church face tremendous challenges in the latter days. We must not only resist, but mount a counteroffensive against the temptations of the world and its teachings, if we are to preserve our uniqueness. (LINK)

ELDER DAVID B. HAIGHT:

We see around us daily that which is portrayed in this parable. We sit idly by watching as an insidious stream of profanity, vulgarity, demeaning behavior, a mocking of righteous ideals and principles, invades our homes and lives through most types of media, teaching our children negative values and moral corruption. We then become upset when our children perform differently than we would wish, and social behavior continues to deteriorate.

One newspaper headline reads, “The Battle Lines Are Clearly Drawn for America ’s … Cultural War.” The article then asks: “Who determines ‘the norms by which we live … and govern ourselves’[?] Who decides what is right and wrong, moral and immoral, beautiful and ugly … ? Whose beliefs shall form the basis of law? …

“Our [cultural challenge] is about ‘who we are’ and ‘what we believe.’ ” (Patrick J. Buchanan, Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Sept. 1992, A15.)

Cal Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote that some see “the state as either equal or superior to God in human affairs. Theirs is an uninvolved god who trickles down blessings when we want them, but whose commands are to be ignored when he asks us to do something we don’t want to do.

“The fact is that our laws came from a standard of righteousness that was thought to promote the common good, or ‘general welfare.’ … That standard has been abandoned as biblical illiteracy has flourished, thanks in part to the state’s antipathy toward immutable and eternal truths.

“William Penn warned, ‘If we are not governed by God, then we will be ruled by tyrants.’ One’s view of God and his requirements for our personal lives determines one’s view of the role of the state in public life. …

“Benjamin Franklin … observed that if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without God’s knowledge, ‘can an empire rise without his aid?’

“The late philosopher-theologian Francis Schaeffer wrote that ‘God has ordained the state as a delegated authority; it is not autonomous. The state is to be an agent of justice, to restrain evil by punishing the wrongdoer, and to protect the good in society. When it does the reverse, it has no proper authority. It is then a usurped authority and as such it becomes lawless and is tyranny.’ …

“This is what the culture war is about. It is a conflict between those who recognize an … existing God who has spoken about the order of the universe, the purpose of the state and the plan for individual lives and those who think those instructions are unclear, or open to interpretation, or that God is irrelevant to the debate or doesn’t exist and we are on our own. …

“[Thirty years ago] students could still pray and read the Bible in school, abortion was illegal and ‘gay rights’ meant the right to be happy. … The issue now is whether we will become our own god.” (Cal Thomas, Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Sept. 1992, A18; emphasis in original.)

No wonder Isaiah, speaking under inspiration, declared, “Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isa. 55:8.)  (LINK)

PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON:

It is time to awaken to the fact that there are deliberate efforts to restructure the family along the lines of humanistic values. Images of the family and of love as depicted in television and film often portray a philosophy contrary to the commandments of God. . . .

Innocent sounding phrases are now used to give approval to sinful practices. Thus, the term “alternative life-style” is used to justify adultery and homosexuality, “freedom of choice” to justify abortion, “meaningful relationship” and “self-fulfillment” to justify sex outside of marriage.   (LINK)

PRESIDENT JAMES E. FAUST:

Abortion is one evil practice that has become socially accepted in the United States and, indeed, in much of the world. Many of today’s politicians claim not to favor abortion but oppose government intervention in a woman’s right to choose an abortion.

During a prayer breakfast in Washington , D.C. , on 3 February 1994, Mother Teresa gave the most honest and powerful proclamation of truth on this subject I have ever heard. She is the 84-year-old Yugoslavian nun who has cared for the poorest of the poor in India for years. She is now aged .and physically frail, but courageous, with immense spiritual strength. Mother Teresa delivered a message that cut to the very heart and soul of the social ills afflicting America , which traditionally has given generously to the peoples of the earth but now has become selfish. She stated that the greatest proof of that selfishness is abortion. It was reported that Mother Teresa had tied abortion to growing violence and murder in the streets by saying, “If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill each other? … Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.”

Then she alluded to the concern that has been shown for orphan children in India and elsewhere in the world, for which she expressed gratitude. But she continued: “These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today—abortion, which brings people to such blindness.”  Commenting on this powerful message, columnist Cal Thomas asked: “Why should people or nations regard human life as noble or dignified if abortion flourishes? Why agonize about indiscriminate death in Bosnia when babies are being killed far more efficiently and out of the sight of television cameras?”

In conclusion Mother Teresa pled for pregnant women who don’t want their children to give them to her. She said, “I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child.”  What consummate spiritual courage this remarkable aged woman demonstrated! How the devil must have been offended! Her remarkable declaration, however, was not generally picked up by the press or the editorial writers. Perhaps they felt more comfortable being politically or socially correct. After all, they can justify their stance by asserting that everyone does it or that it is legal. Fortunately the scriptures and the message of the prophets cannot be so revised. (LINK)

FIRST PRESIDENCY STATEMENT FOLLOWING ROE V. WADE DECISION:

In view of a recent decision of the United States Supreme Court, we feel it necessary to restate the position of the Church on abortion in order that there be no misunderstanding of our attitude.

The Church opposes abortion and counsels its members not to submit to or perform an abortion except in the rare cases where, in the opinion of competent medical counsel, the life or good health of the mother is seriously endangered or where the pregnancy was caused by rape and produces serious emotional trauma in the mother. Even then it should be done only after counseling with the local presiding priesthood authority and after receiving divine confirmation through prayer.

Abortion must be considered one of the most revolting and sinful practices in this day, when we are witnessing the frightening evidence of permissiveness leading to sexual immorality.

Members of the Church guilty of being parties to the sin of abortion must be subjected to the disciplinary action of the councils of the Church as circumstances warrant. In dealing with this serious matter, it would be well to keep in mind the word of the Lord stated in the 59th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 6, “Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.” [D&C 59:6]  (LINK)

ELDER DALLIN H. OAKS:

Some Latter-day Saints say they deplore abortion, but they give these exceptional circumstances as a basis for their pro-choice position that the law should allow abortion on demand in all circumstances. Such persons should face the reality that the circumstances described in these three exceptions are extremely rare. For example, conception by incest or rape—the circumstance most commonly cited by those who use exceptions to argue for abortion on demand—is involved in only a tiny minority of abortions. More than 95 percent of the millions of abortions performed each year extinguish the life of a fetus conceived by consensual relations. Thus the effect in over 95 percent of abortions is not to vindicate choice but to avoid its consequences.  Using arguments of “choice” to try to justify altering the consequences of choice is a classic case of omitting what the Savior called “the weightier matters of the law.”

A prominent basis for the secular or philosophical arguments for abortion on demand is the argument that a woman should have control over her own body. Not long ago I received a letter from a thoughtful Latter-day Saint outside the United States who analyzed that argument in secular terms. Since his analysis reaches the same conclusion I have urged on religious grounds, I quote it here for the benefit of those most subject to persuasion on this basis:

“Every woman has, within the limits of nature, the right to choose what will or will not happen to her body. Every woman has, at the same time, the responsibility for the way she uses her body. If by her choice she behaves in such a way that a human fetus is conceived, she has not only the right to but also the responsibility for that fetus. If it is an unwanted pregnancy, she is not justified in ending it with the claim that it interferes with her right to choose. She herself chose what would happen to her body by risking pregnancy. She had her choice. If she has no better reason, her conscience should tell her that abortion would be a highly irresponsible choice.

“What constitutes a good reason? Since a human fetus has intrinsic and infinite human value, the only good reason for an abortion would be the violation or deprivation of or the threat to the woman’s right to choose what will or will not happen to her body. Social, educational, financial, and personal considerations alone do not outweigh the value of the life that is in the fetus. These considerations by themselves may properly lead to the decision to place the baby for adoption after its birth, but not to end its existence in utero.

“The woman’s right to choose what will or will not happen to her body is obviously violated by rape or incest. When conception results in such a case, the woman has the moral as well as the legal right to an abortion because the condition of pregnancy is the result of someone else’s irresponsibility, not hers. She does not have to take responsibility for it. To force her by law to carry the fetus to term would be a further violation of her right. She also has the right to refuse an abortion. This would give her the right to the fetus and also the responsibility for it. She could later relinquish this right and this responsibility through the process of placing the baby for adoption after it is born. Whichever way is a responsible choice.”

The man who wrote those words also applied the same reasoning to the other exceptions allowed by our doctrine—life of the mother and a baby that will not survive birth.  (LINK)

ELDER RUSSELL M. NELSON:

Regrettable as is the loss of loved ones from war, these figures are dwarfed by the toll of a new war that annually claims more casualties than the total number of fatalities from all the wars of this nation.

It is a war on the defenseless—and the voiceless. It is a war on the unborn.

This war, labeled “abortion,” is of epidemic proportion and is waged globally. Over fifty-five million abortions were reported worldwide in the year 1974 alone. 1. Sixty-four percent of the world’s population now live in countries that legally sanction this practice. 2. In the United States of America , over 1.5 million abortions are performed annually. 3. About 25–30 percent of all pregnancies now end in abortion. 4. In some metropolitan areas, there are more abortions performed than live births.  Comparable data also come from other nations.

Yet society professes reverence for human life. We weep for those who die, pray and work for those whose lives are in jeopardy. For years I have labored with other doctors here and abroad, struggling to prolong life. It is impossible to describe the grief a physician feels when the life of a patient is lost. Can anyone imagine how we feel when life is destroyed at its roots, as though it were a thing of naught?

What sense of inconsistency can allow people to grieve for their dead, yet be calloused to this baleful war being waged on life at the time of its silent development? What logic would encourage efforts to preserve the life of a critically ill twelve-week-old infant, but countenance the termination of another life twelve weeks after inception? More attention is seemingly focused on the fate of a life at some penitentiary’s death row than on the millions totally deprived of life’s opportunity through such odious carnage before birth.

The Lord has repeatedly declared this divine imperative: “Thou shalt not kill.”  Recently he added, “Nor do anything like unto it.” (D&C 59:6.) Even before the fulness of the gospel was restored, the enlightened understood the sanctity of life. John Calvin, the sixteenth-century reformer, wrote: “If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.”

But what impropriety could now legalize that which has been forbidden by the laws of God from the dawn of time? What twisted reasoning has transformed mythical concepts into contorted slogans assenting to a practice which is consummately wrong?  (LINK

PRESIDENT GORDON B. HINCKLEY:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there were more than 1,200,000 abortions performed in 1995 in the United States alone. What has happened to our regard for human life?  (LINK)

PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON:

We should not assume that public schools always reinforce teachings given in the home concerning ethical and moral conduct. We have seen introduced into many school systems false ideas about the theory of man’s development from lower forms of life, teachings that there are no absolute moral values, repudiation of all beliefs regarded as supernatural, permissiveness about sexual freedom that gives sanction to immoral behavior and “alternative life-styles” such as lesbianism, homosexuality, and other perverse practices.

Such teachings not only tend to undermine the faith and morals of our young people, but they deny the existence of God, who gave absolute laws, and the divinity of Jesus Christ. Surely we can see the moral contradiction of some who argue for the preservation of endangered species, but sanction the abortion of unborn humans.  (LINK)

PRESIDENT SPENCER W. KIMBALL:

Abortion, with all its heartaches, to say nothing of the destruction of life, continues to rise alarmingly. Last year in the United States alone, there were reported over one million legal abortions. That is nearly fifty times the number only seven years before, in 1969. One leading authority estimates that by 1980 there may be 2.4 million legal abortions. Abortions in many other countries are running similarly high.

Abortion, the taking of life, is one of the most grievous of sins. 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.

Certainly the tragedy of abortion often begins with a visit to an X-rated motion picture theater or fingering through an obscene magazine. The path to the grievous sins of fornication, adultery, and homosexuality can begin, too, with the viewing of some of the sex- and violence-oriented programs now being shown on television, including network television.

We must put on the armor of righteousness and resist with all our might these satanic influences. The time is now when members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must take a stand fearlessly and relentlessly for the Lord’s ways as opposed to those of Satan.  (LINK)

PRESIDENT JAMES E. FAUST:

In times past we have looked upon a person who saves another human life as a great hero; yet now we have come to a time when the taking of an unborn human life for nonmedical reasons has become tolerated, made legal, and accepted in many countries of the world. But making it legal to destroy newly conceived life will never make it right. It is consummately wrong.

President Spencer W. Kimball has recently said, “This is one of the most despicable of all sins—to destroy an unborn child to save one from embarrassment or to save one’s face or comfort.” (Ensign, Nov. 1974, p. 7.)

Some say, as did the Supreme Court of the United States , that it is only a theory that human life is present from conception. This is contrary to insurmountable medical evidence. Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson recently revealed that he was among those who were militantly outspoken in favor of legalized abortion and joined in using every device available in political action to promote it. He helped set up and became director of the first and largest abortion clinic in the western world. After the center had performed some sixty thousand abortions, Dr. Nathanson resigned as director. He said, “I am deeply troubled by my own increasing certainty that I had in fact presided over 60,000 deaths. There is no longer serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb from the very onset of pregnancy.” (New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 291, no. 22, p. 1189.)

Way back in the sixteenth century, Arantius showed that maternal and fetal circulations were separate, thus clearly demonstrating that there are two separate lives involved. The unborn babe is certainly alive, because it possesses the token of life which is the ability to reproduce dying cells. (Dr. Eugene F. Diamond, Illinois Medical Journal, May 1967.)

For the unborn, only two possibilities are open: It can become a live human being or a dead unborn child.  (LINK)

PRESIDENT SPENCER W. KIMBALL:

Much is being said in the press and in the pulpit concerning abortion. This Church of Jesus Christ opposes abortion and counsels all members not to submit to nor participate in any abortion, in any way, for convenience or to hide sins.

Abortion must be considered one of the most revolting and sinful practices in this day, when we are witnessing a frightening evidence of permissiveness leading to sexual immorality. We take the solemn view that any tampering with the fountains of life is serious, morally, mentally, psychologically, physically. To interfere with any of the processes in the procreation of offspring is to violate one of the most sacred of God’s commandments—to “multiply, and replenish the earth.” (Gen. 1:28)

Members of the Church guilty of being parties to the sin of abortion must be subjected to the disciplinary action of the councils of the Church, as circumstances warrant. We remember the reiteration of the Ten Commandments given by the Lord in our own time, when he said, “Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.” (D&C 59:6.) We see some similarities.  (LINK)

ELDER NEAL A. MAXWELL:

Abortion, which has increased enormously, causes one to ask, “Have we strayed so far from God’s second great commandment—love thy neighbor—that a baby in a womb no longer qualifies to be loved—at least as a mother’s neighbor?” (LINK) (LINK)

ENSIGN EDITORIAL:

The unborn child is perhaps the only minority that can’t speak for itself. It is completely helpless. Yet even the worst type of criminal is given every possible benefit, including the right to every legal procedure, from the right to counsel to the right to a trial by jury. But the unborn child who is eliminated by abortion and is innocent has none of these rights. Abortion gives one person rights over another without due process of law. . . .

Legal writers have pointed to the fact that, while the law is moving toward recognition of the unborn child as a person—with all of a person’s inalienable rights—the trend in abortion laws is to deny the existence of life. “With the exception of the abortion movement,” one attorney has noted, “the universal trend in the law is toward full recognition of the humanity of the unborn child.” (LINK)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Michael T. Griffith holds a Master’s degree in Theology from The Catholic Distance University, a Graduate Certificate in Ancient and Classical History from American Military University, a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College, and two Associate in Applied Science degrees from the Community College of the Air Force.  He also holds an Advanced Certificate of Civil War Studies and a Certificate of Civil War Studies from Carroll College.  He is a graduate in Arabic and Hebrew of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and of the U.S. Air Force Technical Training School in San Angelo, Texas.  In addition, he has completed an Advanced Hebrew program at Haifa University in Israel.  He is the author of five books on Mormonism and ancient texts, including How Firm A Foundation, A Ready Reply, and One Lord, One Faith.

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