JOEL - Since no one really knows at which moment the spirit enters the
body to begin the life of a soul, we must assume that life begins at the moment of conception, or at least shortly thereafter. Therefore the act of abortion is the taking of a human life and must be considered as a serious sin. However, because of this uncertainty of the time of beginning of life, we also cannot pass judgement on a person who undergoes an abortion and call it an act of murder. Only God can make such a judgement on someone. This is one of the main reasons why the Church states that it makes limited exceptions, as far as a person's standing in the Church is concerned, for abortions in those circumstances of rape, incest, where the developing fetus has a defect that will not allow it survive birth, or where the life of the mother is at stake.
Some people argue that abortion could be treated as "justifiable homicide." Religion and morality do not categorically condemn the taking of human life, only the wrongful taking of human life. In circumstances such as self-defense, taking life is not condemned. Under this view, the logical approach would be to forbid all abortions except those that fit within narrowly defined "self-defense" categories, such as those that would allow the putative mother's life to be spared, or allowing her to avoid the trauma of carrying the results of rape to term.
Most of these circumstances where one might justify abortion are extremely rare and each incident must be evaluated and considered after much prayer and counciling before considering an abortion. As far as we know a person can receive forgiveness for this sin.
Actually, the Mormon Church does not really give permission for anyone to have an abortion. The decision is completely up to the individual and the inspiration they receive from God, on whether they should have an abortion or not. The only thing the leaders of the church say, is that it is possible to receive forgiveness for commiting the sin (in the cases of rape, incest, etc.) because we can not with certainty call it an act of murder, since we don't really know the moment at which life begins. When the Church says it makes allowances for it, they mean if it is done for an understandable reason a person might not be excommunicated from the Church for it.
To find out what the LDS Church really believes about abortion, please read the following excerpts of sermons from the leaders of the Church.
"The Great Plan Of Happiness": Elder Dallin H. Oaks (October 1993)
The ultimate act of destruction is to take a life. That is why abortion is such a serious sin. Our attitude toward abortion is not based on revealed knowledge of when mortal life begins for legal purposes. It is fixed by our knowledge that according to an eternal plan all of the spirit children of God must come to this earth for a glorious purpose, and that individual identity began long before conception and will continue for all the eternities to come. We rely on the prophets of God, who have told us that while there may be "rare" exceptions, "the practice of elective abortion is fundamentally contrary to the Lord's injunction, 'Thou shalt not... kill, nor do anything like unto it' (Doctrine and Covenants 59:6)"
Save The Children: Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley (October 1994)
Abortion is not the answer. This only compounds the problem. It is an evil and repulsive escape that will someday bring regret and remorse.
"Behold, The Enemy Is Combined"(D&C 38:12): Elder Neal A. Maxwell (April 1993)
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?" Even so, violence to an unborn child does not justify other violence!
Covenants: Elder Boyd K. Packer (October 1990)
I believe that most people are drawn into a life of drug addiction or perversion or submit to an abortion without really realizing how morally and spiritually dangerous they are.
Little Children: Elder Boyd K. Packer (October 1986)
Whatever the laws of man may come to tolerate, the misuse of the power of procreation, the destroying of innocent life through abortion, and the abuse of little children are transgressions of enormous proportion. For cradled therein rests the destiny of innocent, helpless children.
Reverence for Life: Elder Russell M. Nelson (April 1985)
Now, as a servant of the Lord, I dutifully warn those who advocate and practice abortion that they incur the wrath of Almighty God, who declared, "If men . . . hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, . . . he shall be surely punished." (Ex. 21:22.)
Reverence for Life: Elder Russell M. Nelson (April 1985)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has consistently opposed the practice of abortion. One hundred years ago the First Presidency wrote: "And we again take this opportunity of warning the Latter-day Saints against those . . . practices of foeticide and infanticide."
Great Things Required of Their Fathers: President Ezra Taft Benson (April 1981)
Surely we can see the moral contradiction of some who argue for the preservation of endangered species, but sanction the abortion of unborn humans.
We Need A Listening Ear": President Spencer W. Kimball (October 1979)
As we look about us, we see many forces at work bent on the destruction of the family, both in America and abroad. Family ties are being destroyed by an ever-increasing divorce rate, by increased infidelity of spouses, by the abominable sin of abortion, which bids well to become a national scandal and is a very grave sin.
The Need For Love: Elder Theodore M. Burton (April 1979)
Lack of communication coupled with the postponement of children is based on selfishness, as is the greater evil of abortion. We shudder as we read in Leviticus of the sacrifices of idol worshipers of that time who fed their children into the fiery maw of the iron god Molech. Is personal selfishness which results in abortion any less repulsive to God,as modern people through abortion offer the sacrifice of their children to their idol of selfish materialism?
Decision: Elder Eldred G. Smith (April 1978)
Choose to live the law of celestial marriage. The command in the marriage ceremony is to multiply and replenish the earth. In the Doctrine and Covenants when the Lord is referring to the blessings of celestial marriage (He is talking about husband-wife relationships), He makes this statement: "And if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood," and so forth. (D&C 132:19.) What do you think He's talking about? Is it possible that He was referring to abortion? Think about it! Is there more innocent life than that of the unborn child? And why is murder referred to when the Lord is talking about marriage? Conception is a contract with God that you will create a body, and He contracts to put the spirit of life within it. Any covenant of the Lord cannot be broken without a penalty.
"The Church [vigorously] opposes abortion and counsels its members not to submit to or perform an abortion. . . .
"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. The Lord stated in the 59th section, `Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.'"(ENSIGN, Mar. 1973, p. 64.)
Guidelines To Carry Forth The Work Of God In Cleanliness: President Spencer W. Kimball (April 1974)
Again, abortion is a growing evil that we speak against. Certainly the terrible sin of premeditated abortion would be hard to justify. It is almost inconceivable that an abortion would ever be committed to save face or embarrassment, to save trouble or inconvenience, or to escape responsibility. How could one submit to such an operation or be party in any way by financing or encouraging? If special rare cases could be justified, certainly they would be rare indeed. We place it high on the list of sins against which we strongly warn the people.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.1, ABORTION
"Church members who encourage, perform, or submit to an abortion are subject to Church discipline as appropriate" to help them repent (General Handbook, 11-4).
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