Statements by LDS Prophets and Apostles on Legalized Abortion
Michael T. Griffith
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
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
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
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. …
“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:
is one evil practice that has become socially accepted in the
prayer breakfast in
alluded to the concern that has been shown for orphan children in
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.
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
“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.
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
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:
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there were more than
1,200,000 abortions performed in 1995 in the
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:
with all its heartaches, to say nothing of the destruction of life, continues
to rise alarmingly. Last year in the
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.)
as did the Supreme Court of the
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)
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)
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