“We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.”
—The Family: A Proclamation to the World
Years ago I was in Salt Lake City for a conference of members of our church. Picketing outside the conference center were opponents of our faith who proclaimed, among other things, that we ought to shun abortion. This puzzled me, because we openly teach that abortion is, simply put, wrong.
As a physician, I can’t help but use the opportunity of this post to clarify the term abortion. Medically, an abortion is essentially any termination of a pregnancy before the fetus can survive outside the womb. This includes spontaneous abortions, commonly known as miscarriages. Of course Mormons do not consider a spontaneous abortion to be morally wrong. The type of abortion we are concerned with in this discussion is an elective abortion, or one that is performed to kill and remove a fetus that has not yet died on its own.
As I think back on the group protesting our stance on abortion, perhaps they protested the fact that we do not have an absolute prohibition on elective abortion. There are instances in which a member can perform an elective abortion and remain in good standing in the church, such as forced rape or when a physician determines the life of the mother is at risk or the baby will not survive beyond birth. Even in these circumstances, it is a weighty decision that parents should not take lightly.
We believe that life is sacred. Abortion is the willful ending of a very new life, and God will hold all accountable who choose to destroy life in this manner.