Printer Friendly

Instilling pro-life moral principles in difficult times: the experience of one faith community.

H. LDS Church Positions on the Legalization of Elective Abortion

On March 7, 1974, just a year after Roe, an official, designated representative of the Church testified before a United States Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments hearing

considering several proposed Amendments to the United States Constitution that would reverse Roe. David L. McKay, a son of the former President of the Church, David O. McKay and then-President of the LDS mission in New York and New England, presented "a statement on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saints," that included the recent LDS First Presidency statement opposing abortion as "one of the most revolting and sinful practices in this day." (116) He concluded: "The church is therefore against the legalization of abortion." (117)

That baseline position against the legalization of elective abortion has never been repudiated or disavowed. However, the Church, qua Church, has deliberately avoided getting involved in the political battles over whether and how to preserve, change, and shape the law regarding the myriad potential incidental legal issues (such as abortion funding, parental consent, spousal participation, waiting periods, informed consent, disposition of fetal remains, regulation of methods used to perform abortion, etc.). Rather, the Church has taken a clear position on the big issue (elective abortion should not be legal) and avoided the bramble bush of political battles on the many lesser issues that seem to even divide the most sincere pro-life groups and persons. Thus, the current published position of the Church regarding legalized abortion states: "The Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion." (118)

However, the Church has encouraged members to be actively involved individually in supporting laws that protect the sanctity of life. The "Proclamation on the Family" has become the anchor for LDS policy positions regarding the family since it was issued by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles on September 23, 1995. It includes, in relevant part, the declarations: "We affirm the sanctity of life ..." and "We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society." (119)

In his first sermon after he was sustained as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a little more than a year after the United States Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, President Spencer W. Kimball

the World, Sept. 23, 1995.

delivered the first of many sermons explicitly condemning abortion, including a direct repudiation of abortion for reasons of personal convenience, and in the same speech admonished members of the Church to be politically active in "their respective political parties and there exercise their influence." (120) He later declared:

   There is today a strong clamor to make such practices legal by
   passing legislation. Some would also legislate to legalize
   prostitution. They have legalized abortion, seeking to remove from
   this heinous crime the stigma of sin.

   We do not hesitate to tell the world that the cure for these evils
   is not in surrender. (121)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught students at Brigham Young University:

   The Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social
   convenience. Our members are taught that, subject only to some very
   rare exceptions, they must not submit to, perform, encourage, pay
   for, or arrange for an abortion. That direction tells us what we
   need to do on the weightier matters of the law, the choices that
   will move us toward eternal life. (122)

Many General Authorities have encouraged Mormons to "stand up" and have mentioned the legalization of elective abortion as one example of the moral deterioration that must be resisted and opposed. (123)

I. Foundational Theological and Moral Principles Underlying LDS Doctrines and Policies Regarding Elective Abortion

Clarity and coherence in the foundational theology is important so that the particular doctrines and policies of the Church are understood to be based on foundational moral, theological, and spiritual principles. There are some powerful religious theological and moral underpinnings for the LDS position on elective abortion. Mormon religious doctrines and policies regarding bioethical issues are, as Professor Courtney Campbell puts it, "embedded within a comprehensive worldview of divine design, human destiny, and ultimate meaning." (124) Mormon Christians believe that there are eternal truths about right and wrong--which all have the duty and agency to discern and follow. (125) While time, culture, context, and many other factors influence how those truths may be practically understood, expressed, lived and applied, (126) Mormon Christians reject the premise of relativism--that ethical principles of good and evil are merely (wholly or primarily) social constructs. (127)

Six foundational beliefs, core theological principles of the Mormon Christian worldview, incorporating the LDS understanding of the gospel and God's Plan of Salvation for his children, are the cornerstones of Mormon Christian ethical theory regarding prenatal life. They are:

(1) God is the eternally loving Heavenly Father of all humankind; He created the spirits of all humankind, all of whom are His sons and His daughters. (128) As the spiritual offspring of God, human beings have a divine nature and divine potential, including the divine capacity to do whatever He asks us to do.

(2) God's "work and [his] glory," his purpose and plan, are "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (129) AS their loving Heavenly Father, He both knows and wants what is best for his mortal sons and daughters collectively and individually; He knows what they must do to develop divine nature and gain immortality and eternal life; (130) He gives no commandment that is not crafted to help them gain eternal life and eternal happiness, and none that they are unable to obey. (131) All of humankind's lives--pre-mortal, mortal and post-mortal, individually and collectively--are part of God's Great Plan of Happiness (or Plan of Salvation) for His children and through the atonement of Christ are intended to effect the immortality and eternal life of man. God created man that man "might have joy." (132)

(3) God sent his spirit children to earth, to mortality, for two main purposes essential to their salvation and eternal development. The first purpose is to gain a physical body (which, after our resurrection, will be our own bodies eternally); Mormons believe that God has a physical body; thus, keeping (a resurrected) body is necessary for His children to become like Him. Mormon Christians believe fervently in the sanctity of human life; mortal life is extremely important, and to deprive someone of it is a very grave offense against God, His Plan of Salvation, and the agency and mortal life of the victims. (133) Mormons do all they can to avoid and prevent death, but they are not afraid of death. Death is not the victor; and dying, while sad, is not the end. A Mormon funeral is like a missionary farewell or a wedding; death is only a temporary parting, a sad separation but not permanent. Mormons believe that because of Jesus's atonement and resurrection, all who ever lived on the earth will be resurrected and can be joyfully reunited again with God and Christ, and with beloved family and friends. (134) The official Church position on end-of-life medical care states:

   When severe illness strikes, members should exercise faith in the
   Lord and seek competent medical assistance. However, when dying
   becomes inevitable, it should be seen as a blessing and a
   purposeful part of eternal existence. Members should not feel
   obligated to extend mortal life by means that are unreasonable.
   These judgments are best made by family members after receiving
   wise and competent medical advice and seeking divine guidance
   through fasting and prayer. (135)

(4) The second purpose of mortal life is for men and women to exercise the great gift of free agency in this mortal setting, to learn to distinguish between good and evil, to learn to choose good over evil, and to gain knowledge and growth from those choices and experiences. God has given humanity free agency--the capacity to choose and act in ways that have real consequences for the development (or diminution) of their divine nature. All humans must freely choose to exercise their moral agency in accord with God's will in order to experience the growth process that eventually, through the atonement of Christ, will enable them to obtain immortality and eternal life. (136)

(5) Two conditions are necessary for the exercise of free agency and for the unfolding of God's Great Plan of Happiness. They are (a) knowledge of what is right and wrong, and (b) opportunity to act upon that knowledge (e.g. "temptations and choices"). Knowledge of right and wrong, (including moral or ethical knowledge), comes in various ways--by study, by mental exertion, by reason, research, and analysis--and it comes by experience, including the "school of hard knocks" when people make mistakes and learn from them. Such knowledge also comes through the scriptures (the "Word") and through prophets and apostles, other priesthood leaders, teachers, missionaries, and parents. It also can come by personal revelation from God to each individual, most often by inspiration from the Holy Ghost. (137) However, revelation by the Spirit and through authorities are not substitutes for personal study, examination, reason, thought, logic, analysis, deliberation, discussion, and full mental exertion. (138) The opportunity to exercise free agency requires "opposition in all things" so that individuals may freely make righteous, obedient choices that help them to do and become what Heavenly Father wants them to do and become, or make bad choices that hinder and retard the development of the divine spark within them. Adversity provides the opportunity for personal development and progress. (139) Thus, the temptations and oppositions of mortality are to be expected, as they are essential for exercising free agency and for the process of learning to choose, obey, develop righteously, and be blessed.

(6) Finally, the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God the Father in the flesh, is the core, essential, indispensable, element of God's loving Plan for the immortality and eternal life of all humanity who will accept His invitation. Through the atoning sacrifice of the Savior, all who live in mortality will be delivered from the terminal bands of physical death, (140) and will have the opportunity to repent and be forgiven of their sins, cleansed by the sacrificial blood of Christ. Mormon Christians believe that the atonement of Christ gives all men and women the opportunity to be liberated from sin (including abortion) and spiritual death, and to become cleansed through the blood of Christ because the Son of Mary paid for our sins 2,000 years ago. His incredible loving sacrifice empowers all to repent from their mistakes and obtain exaltation in the Kingdom of God if they repent and keep His commandments. (141) Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world to live and die in order to save humanity, (142) and that all might learn to love each other, care for, and sacrifice for each other as Christ taught and exemplified.

J. LDS Teachings About Abortion Are Consistent With Biblical Judeo-Christianity

The position taken by the LDS Church since its organization (or "restoration" as Mormons believe) in 1830 about the sinfulness and social

evil of abortion is consistent with the views about abortion expressed clearly by Christian leaders of the first centuries of the Christian era. It is also (like the early Christian position) consistent with the values about the sanctity of prenatal life held by righteous members of the House of Israel as expressed throughout the Old Testament.

For example, the Old Testament is filled with verses that confirm the (143) describe children divinely-formed humanity of the pre-natal child in utero, as a blessing from God, (144) condemn child sacrifice in any form or for any purpose, (145) and portray God as the defender of the defenseless (the prime example of which is the unborn child). (146) The New Testament, also, references the sacred and unique nature of prenatal life, (147) the protection of children (148) and the special role model of children in Christ's kingdom (and admonitions to adults to become like them. (149)

Likewise, the wanton lifestyles of the Roman Empire in the time of Christ and the apostles included the widespread practice of elective abortion, which the apostles and Christian fathers condemned as "works of darkness." (150) One of the corruptions of that day that the apostle Paul specifically condemned in his epistles was "pharmakeia," (151) "a Greek word meaning 'the employment of drugs with occult properties for a variety of purposes including, in particular, contraception or abortion...." (152) Likewise, "the 'Christian Fathers,' including Clement, Athenagoras, Tertullian, Augustine, Jerome, and Basil, recorded clearly how deeply they abhorred the practice of abortion." (153) For example, the Didache (or "Teachings of the Lord to the Gentiles by the Twelve Apostles") from the first century expressly commands: "Thou shalt do no murder ... thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born...." (154) Thus, the "Mormon" position strongly rejecting and repudiating elective abortion as a grave sin and serious social evil is well-grounded in the writings of the early Christian fathers, as well as consistent with the views about the divine sanctity of human life, including prenatal life, expressed by Old Testament prophets.


While precise information is not easy to come by, it appears that there is relatively little difference between the official Church doctrine and the views and practices of lay Mormon Christians. On the polar extremes, a very few LDS may take a very strict position which totally or nearly totally forbids all abortions (e.g., permitting abortion, if ever, only to save maternal life), and on the other end, a very few Mormon Christians favor an abortion-on-demand legal policy. However, the overwhelming majority of Mormon Christians believe that abortion should be generally prohibited but legal in very rare, narrow, exceptional cases. Thus, most Church members are very supportive of the Church position as a matter of correct religious doctrine, as the fight moral position, as the best public policy position, and as the fight standard of personal behavior. For example, a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey of Americans in fourteen religious categories (denominations or religious groupings) showed that only the Jehovah's Witnesses responded with a larger percentage (77%) of members saying that abortion should be either illegal in all cases (52%) or illegal in most cases (25%) than the Mormons, who responded 9% and 61% respectively, contrasted with Evangelical Protestants (25% and 36%), Historically Black Protestants (23% and 23%), Catholics (18% and 27%), Muslims (13% and 35%), Mainline Protestants (7% and 25%), Jews (5% and 9%), and Buddhists (3% and 10%). (155) Likewise, only the Jehovah's Witnesses had a lower percentage of members who said they believe that abortion should be legal in all cases (5%) or most cases (11%) than Mormons (8% and 19% respectively). (156) By contrast, Evangelical Protestants (9% and 24%), Historically Black Protestant Churches (18% and 29%), Catholics (16% and 32%), and Muslims (13% and 35%) showed more support for both legal-in-all-cases abortion (abortion-on-demand) and legal-in-most-cases abortion; Jews (40% and 44%) and Buddhists (35% and 46%) were the most supportive of abortion-on-demand or very permissive abortion. (157)

No church group had a larger percentage of persons responding that abortion should be illegal in most, but not all, cases than the Mormons (61%), (158) suggesting that they believe it is a very strong moral issue, but there are a small number of equally important competing moral considerations that in some rare cases will justify abortion. On the other hand, with regard to whether abortion should be illegal in all cases, Mormons (at 9%) were closer to the position of the Orthodox (10%), Unaffiliated (8%), and Mainline Protestants (7%) than to Jehovah's Witnesses (52%), Evangelical Protestants (25%), or Historically Black Protestants (23%). (159) Mormons are uncomfortable with the absolutism of total legal prohibition regarding an issue as to which they see some clear (albeit very rare) morally justifiable exceptions.

It is likely that, overall, Mormon Christians are more tolerant of elective abortion and of its legality today than they were forty years ago. But the erosion of pro-life attitudes among Mormon Christians seems to have been relatively small, and such change has occurred in all faith communities. For example, Judith Blake found that during the decade preceding Roe v. Wade, the disapproval of non-medical abortions for both Catholics and non-Catholics in the United States fell. (160) She also observed: "In general, [United States Catholics] disapprove of legalizing abortion more than non-Catholics, but the difference is less than might be expected when one considers that the Catholic Church unconditionally bans the induced termination of pregnancy." (161) Similarly, another public opinion survey conducted in the mid-1980s reported that opposition to abortion from members of mainstream religious communities had dropped by roughly ten to twenty percent between 1972 and 1984. (162)

Another measure of comparative rejection of abortion by Mormons is the number, rate, and ratio of abortions. Reliable data breaking down persons getting abortion according to religion is not readily available. However, one loose surrogate measure is to compare the number, rate, and ratio of abortions in Utah with that in the United States in general and with other states. Because over 60% of residents of Utah belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, (163) the abortion data for Utah reflects the behaviors of Mormon Christians to some extent (more than data for any other state, where Mormons are minorities). However, the Utah-Mormon correlation is far from perfect because of the 40% of Utahans who are not Mormons, and because the abortion clinics in Salt Lake City serve residents of southwestern Wyoming, southeastern Idaho, and parts of western Colorado. For these reasons, abortion data from Utah probably shows higher numbers, rates, and ratios of abortion than such data for Mormons as a group.

As Appendix III shows, the rate of abortions per 1,000 females, ages fifteen to forty-four, in Utah is less than one-third the rate for the United States as a whole, and that rate is actually lower today in both comparative position and raw rate than it was in 1975. Likewise, the ratio of abortions per 1,000 live births is about one-fifth the ratio of abortions for the United States overall (though it is a bit higher now in raw ratio and comparison than the data was in 1975). This suggests that people in Utah practice significantly less abortion than Americans in general, and less than Americans in most other states. Therefore, it appears that the clear, repetitive, strong, emphatic policies and teachings about the grave personal immorality and profound social evil of abortion within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has had some positive impact upon the views and behaviors of members of the Mormon faith community, and apparently on some of their neighbors, as well.

A corroborating piece of evidence about Mormon rejection of elective abortion is the absence of abortion clinics in Utah County, where two large universities--Brigham Young University (with over 30,000 students) and Utah Valley University (with over 20,000 students)--are located within five miles of each other. (164) They are situated about forty-five miles south of Salt Lake City. Most of the students (at least 40,000-45,000 of them) are Mormons. (165) Despite the presence of so many young adults with raging hormones concentrated in one area, there is not a single abortion clinic in Utah County. (166)

Mormon Christians also generally support the official Church position on abortion, not only as the will of the Lord regarding the moral question, but also as the right legal policy. Utah is one of the states that has tried most persistently to protect prenatal life from elective abortion. Courts have enjoined many of its laws during the past thirty-nine years, but some have been upheld. One of the first abortion restrictions after Roe to be upheld by the United States Supreme Court was a Utah law requiring parental notification "if possible" before an abortion is performed on a minor in H.L. v. Matheson. (167)

Another measure of Mormon community support for the Church's position is the platforms and voting records of their elected representatives in government. LDS political leaders, including members of Congress, have been overwhelmingly (but not unanimously) pro-life in major legislative battles, and Senator Orrin Hatch (a Mormon) has been one of the most active leaders of the pro-life legislative efforts in the Senate. The entire Utah delegation (both Senators and Representatives, both Republicans and Democrats) consistently votes pro-life on major federal issues regarding abortion, as do most other Mormon political leaders.

A small minority of Mormons, including a few Mormon politicians, generally support Roe v. Wade and abortion-on-demand as the proper legal policy, taking a Jimmy Carter-esque "personally I oppose it, but ..." position. For example, Democratic United States Senate Majority leader Harry Reid is a Nevada Mormon; he received favorable ratings in 2003 from NARAL, the abortion pro-choice group, and Planned Parenthood in 2006. (168) The National Right to Life Committee ("NRLC") gave him a 50% rating in 2006. (169) Likewise, on several occasions, especially when he was running for Senator against Ted Kennedy, Massachusetts Mormon Mitt Romney took an ambiguous, weak position to uphold existing laws. (170) While he was Governor of Massachusetts, however, Romney changed his position to prolife, reportedly based on some long discussions with various pro-life scholars and professionals, (171) and he has consistently taken pro-life political positions since then in both his 2008 and 2012 campaigns for the presidency.

Thus, there is remarkable consistency between the formal position of the Church regarding the morality, law, and practice of elective abortion, and opinions, values, and behaviors of members of the Mormon religious community. It appears that most Mormon Christians personally believe that the heinous moral crime and sin of abortion is a grave evil, but that it is not the same as murder; and that the moral status of the unborn child is not identical to the moral status of a born human child or adolescent or adult, but the moral status of the unborn child is very close and similar to, "like unto," that of the born person, so that killing an unborn child by means of abortion is very close and similar, "like unto," killing a born person. While some narrow moral justifications for abortion do exist, those exceptional circumstances are very rare, and of such profound importance that personal counseling from local church leaders should precede every decision to have an abortion due to an exceptional circumstance.


In contrast to the clear, strong, repeatedly emphasized, and practically enforced restrictive policies, positions, and teachings about the immorality and social evil of elective abortion taken by the LDS Church and its leaders for half-a-century, the official Church position and statements of the General Authorities regarding other controversial contemporary bioethical issues are more neutral, nuanced, and flexible. Perhaps the most prominent issue regarding pre-natal human life in terms of public interest in recent years concerns embryonic stem cell (ESC) research.

The LDS Church position about the morality, permissibility, and public policy concerning ESC research is neutral--a "no position" position. The official Church published statement on ESC research is:

   The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
   Saints has not taken a position regarding the use of embryonic stem
   cells for research purposes. The absence of a position should not
   be interpreted as support for or opposition to any other statement
   made by Church members, whether they are for or against embryonic
   stem cell research. (172)

The "neutral" LDS Church position about the morality, practice, and public policy regarding the highly controversial and very public issue of ESC research is fascinating and well-worth investigating (albeit beyond the scope of this article) because of the possible doctrinal, moral, and policy implications of such nonalignment. (173) Not surprisingly, there is significant diversity in the LDS community about ESC research. (174) The media, predictably, has given the greatest attention to the Mormons who favor ESC research. For example, in 2001, all five United States Senators who were Mormons (Republicans Hatch, Bennett, Smith, Crapo, and Democrat Reid) reportedly favored federal funding for ESC research and tried to persuade President Bush to approve such funding. (175) However, that may be evidence less of Mormon cultural values than the values of their environments; Mormon politicians, just like scientists, teachers, students, doctors, or lawyers, are not immune from the influences of peer pressures, social taboos, and professional fads and fashions. (176) And survey research suggests that "conservative-but-uncertain" is the most accurate description of the attitude of most Mormons about the morality of ESC. In June 2008, a study investigating individual viewpoints of members of the LDS church regarding stem cell research was conducted at the Center for Public Health and Community Genomics, part of the University of Michigan School of Public Health. (177) The study, entitled Biotech Sciences and the Saints: Individual Viewpoints of Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints about Stem Cell Research and Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) included nine interviews with LDS experts in various fields including genetics, law, and philosophy, as well as an interview with an LDS Congressmen. The study also included three focus groups, and targeted the general population, experts, and a college student population. (178) Half of the Mormons surveyed opposed expansion of ESC research, 30% were unsure, and only 20% favored increased ESC research. (179) Most "felt a need for regulations related to stem cell research and PGD; however, many [we]re concerned about [i.e., question] the government's ability to properly regulate human genetic biotechnologies." (180) The LDS participants "rely on personal revelation to guide many of their life decisions, but ultimately [felt] that the final decisions about the use of embryos should be left to the parents/prospective parents." (181) The LDS surveyed held "very strongly to the principles and doctrine taught in the LDS church." (182) The most important LDS principles for the LDS participants included "personal revelation, gaining knowledge, abortion, sanctity of life, and the pre-mortal life/plan of salvation." (183) Ninety percent (90%) identified "sanctity of life" as the most prominent influence in shaping their opinions. (184) Both personal revelation and the plan of salvation were significant for 60% of those interviewed. (185) Thirty percent (30%) favored limitation of PGD on non-fatal diseases and traits; 30% thought that if PGD were allowed, it could not be regulated; 30% considered consent for embryo donation to be a major factor to consider in ESC research morality. (186)

A significant number of Mormons (including the author of this Article) support what could be called the "conservative" (or "Catholic") position against ESC research, for many of the "Catholic" sanctity-of-life reasons. They agree that respect for the sanctity of human life is profoundly important, and in these days of so many assaults on that principle--from abortion to Dr. Kevorkian, to euthanasia, to genetic testing to eliminate unborn children who are not as perfect as or perfectly-designed as the parents prefer--and they believe that bright lines protecting the sanctity of life are very important. They believe vulnerable life, life on the fringes, especially very new and very old life, deserves special protection.

Moreover, as a matter of simple economic or utilitarian analysis, the claim for adult stem cell ("ASC") research (not ESC) as the most promising avenue to applicable, useful clinical medical improvements far surpasses the claim for ESC as a likely avenue to useful medical advances; indeed, there have been very few approved clinical applications involving ESC, and none of them very successful, compared to many approved clinical applications involving ASC (many of which have been successful). (187) For this reason, despite its political popularity, some of the major early ESC research organizations have quit doing ESC. (188) There is some skepticism of self-serving doctors and medical researchers exploiting the desperation of the sick and suffering to demand huge amounts of money on the hint or promise of great cures, reminiscent of Nineteenth Century snake-oil salesman who promised miraculous cures of all kinds of diseases if people bought their bottles, and of medieval alchemists who promised to change lead into gold for those who paid them enough. (189)

Nonetheless, even these conservative Mormons may think that there needs to be some flexibility and they recognize some moral distinctions between ESC research and elective abortion. Moreover, just because there is not an official LDS Statement against ESC Research does not mean that one may be casual about the issue. Mormon Christians are encouraged to not wait passively on the sidelines until they are commanded to act, but are admonished to "be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness...." (190) Certainly, the "no position" policy of the LDS Church, qua Church, and of the General Authorities generally allows, if not encourages, full exploration and discussion by members of the moral, ethical, social, and other public policy dimensions of many controversial biomedical practices and proposed policies, and it tolerates within the faith community different viewpoints.

The contrast between the Church's clear, bright-line, no-elective abortion positions (theological, moral, doctrinal, behavioral, and legal) and the neutral, "no-position" position about ESC research underscores the uniqueness of the LDS position on abortion. The current position of the Church on most dilemmas of biomedical ethics may compare to Jesus's response to the trick question of the Pharisees as to whether his disciples should pay taxes to the Romans (as the Romans demanded) or not (as Jewish purists and zealots of the time insisted). Jesus drew a distinction between the jurisdiction and priority of concerns of the kingdom of God and jurisdiction and priority of concerns of the temporal political kingdoms when he responded: "Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's. And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's." (191)

This teaching of Christ has several meaningful possible applications regarding the issue of elective abortion. The general message, that Christ's kingdom is spiritual rather than political, is made clearly. Thus, the LDS Church generally does not seek to influence laws and politics. It generally leaves it to members individually to sort out the political wheat from the chaff. As noted above, as to most political issues implicating bioethical concerns, the Church as an entity does not take a formal position but emphasizes the underlying theological principles and encourages members to study and reason and seek inspiration to determine the best political or legal policy.

As Mormon bioethicist Courtney Campbell put it: "By refusing to dictate normative positions on most issues for its members, the Church places the burden of ethical choices and social involvement on the individual, thereby accentuating the theological tenet of individual agency and responsibility." (192) While selectively definitive in content, this approach is generally pluralistic in process and reflects one of the great paradoxes of Mormonism--that a community-oriented, hierarchical-church-led faith community is generally tolerant and inclusive of diverse viewpoints about public policy issues. In the absence of specific direction, Mormons generally tend to take pragmatic, principled approaches and tolerate a reasonable diversity of viewpoints on issues such as bioethics in contrast to the approach of ethicists generally, who are sometimes prone to "hyper-rationalism." (193) As a result, there is significant diversity within the generally conservative Mormon community on issues such as stem cell research, withdrawal of medical treatment, birth control, etc. (194)

Jesus's coin metaphor also suggests that human beings who are in the image of God (including unborn children, as noted above) belong to God, not to man. (195) In other words, the destruction of human life is a matter for God to decide, not for man. For abortion, this suggests that destruction of prenatal human life by means of elective abortion is improperly rendering (sacrificing) unto Caesar the living in-utero image of God that rightfully belongs to God. That is crossing the "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's" line the Savior drew.

This may explain why the LDS Church has taken a position on the legality of elective abortion when, regarding most political or social policy issues including most other biomedical controversies, it has not. While most bioethical dilemmas only tangentially or peripherally approach the line of demarcation between the jurisdiction of God's kingdom and Caesar's kingdom, the practice of elective abortion falls clearly within the jurisdiction of God's priority of concern.

Elective abortion is a public policy issue in which the moral dimensions are so important, dominant, and pressing that the leaders of the Church have taken a position in order to clearly define and defend an essential moral position and their moral jurisdiction to define right and wrong on moral and spiritual issues. ESC research does not so directly and undeniably implicate all of those same moral, theological, and social concerns. But regardless of the reason for the difference in treatment of elective abortion and ESC research (and most other bioethical issues), it is clear that elective abortion is viewed and treated very differently by LDS General Authorities and by most Mormons. Abortion lures millions of young women and couples to engage in a ghastly, deadly, abusive practice that destroys living human beings created in the image of God and causes great sorrow and degradation and long-lasting regrets. The difference between the Church's strong positions on elective abortion and its non-position on ESC research underscores how uniquely evil elective abortion is.


The experience of the LDS faith community regarding elective abortion during the past half-century shows that a combination of factors can generate and maintain a high level of support by members of a faith community for the values, policies, and practices espoused by church leaders. In the experience of this particular faith community, eight such factors and actions seem to be important in the process of generating grass roots member support for church policies on highly controversial topics such, as elective abortion, where the Church position differs from socially popular views.

First, the official leaders of a religious community need to define a very clear, strong position regarding the controversial social practice or trend.

Second, the Church leadership must be united and consistent in supporting that position so there is no ambiguity regarding the values and policy of the church.

Third, Church leaders should express with clarity and at all levels the reasons for that position--including explaining the underlying foundational theological "why's" that undergird and support the specific doctrine and policy.

Fourth, Church leaders and representatives need to constantly and persistently teach, effectively disseminate, and frequently reiterate that position and those reasons to all the members of their faith community-over and over again.

Fifth, the Church leaders also need to monitor and check the boundaries they have set by adopting and enforcing internal church policies regarding that moral position, specifically relating to standing or membership in or representation of the religious community.

Sixth, it also helps if the Church leaders adopt, as appropriate, a clear, specific, official faith community position regarding relevant specific public policy that directly impacts upon the moral issue, especially policies affecting how members may be able to live the Church standards, while avoiding getting distracted by and involved in negotiating political and legislative battles over the regulatory details, if possible.

Seventh, the Church as an entity and its leadership must keep their focus clearly--at least overwhelmingly--on the specific social practice, or set of practices, that is of major concern regarding the core moral issue, staying focused on the dispositive moral concern and practice or threat, and avoid getting distracted or diverted by peripheral issues which may present less immediate and less significant threats to individual and social morality.

Eighth, lay members of the faith community should be involved, asked and expected to serve in sacrificial ways in the faith community, to participate sacrificially in standing up for the core value and in supporting the Church's policies and doctrines, and to make a significant personal investment in their faith community and in the position, values and policies of the faith community regarding the controversy. (196)

When all of these things concur, the result may be to successfully create an environment in which the community is able to achieve and maintain a high degree of integrity in members supporting that value and public policy position and in their personal adherence to the recommended behavioral standard reflecting that moral position.

While several practical, organizational, and other collateral factors are important, the clear communication of the moral-theological-doctrinal position or policy seems to be the key. The crucial, main element, at least in the experience of the Mormon faith community and LDS Church, has been to teach clearly, constantly, consistently, and ardently what the behavioral expectations are regarding the matter, and the basic moral principles upon which those expectations and standards are based.

The "Word of God" truly has "more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword or anything else...." (197) It really does begin with "teach[ing] correct principles" and communicating that each member will be and must be accountable for how they live the principles to govern themselves.

While each religious community is unique and the particular approach that succeeds in one may not succeed in all others, the principles underlying the successful establishment and maintenance of high moral values and behaviors probably are transferable to some degree among religious communities. Unanimous support of all members of any given religious community is probably impossible to achieve, given the strong social and ideological pressures that accompany such pathological social movements as support the practice of elective abortion. However, a significant degree of faith community unity and integrity regarding and support for the socially unpopular moral principles, practices, and policies can be achieved.


While this Article has focused on the experience of the Mormon faith community, the same patterns and principles may apply and may be seen in the experiences of other faith communities. For example, leaders of the Roman Catholic Church have taken the lead nationally in speaking out publicly against elective abortion and by so doing have had a powerfully positive influence not just on Catholics, but on all Americans by virtue of their persistent, public espousal of pro-life principles, doctrines, and policies. For example, who does not recognize the powerful influence that Pope John Paul II, (198) and Mother Teresa had not only on Roman Catholics, but on the entire world by standing up and speaking out against elective abortion--eloquently and persistently espousing the principles, values, doctrines, and policies that create a pro-life culture? Who can forget Mother Teresa's words at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. on February 3, 1994? Then, in the presence of the unabashedly pro-abortion President and Mrs. Clinton and Vice-President and Mrs. Gore, the humble little nun very simply and powerfully declared that:

      [T]he greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it
   is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child,
   murder by the mother herself.

      And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how
   can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade
   a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her
   with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to
   give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the
   mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that
   is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect
   the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must
   also give until it hurts.

      By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even
   her own child to solve her problems.

      And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to
   take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the
   world. That father is likely to put other women into the same
   trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion.

      Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to
   love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why
   the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

      Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India,
   with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so
   on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this
   great country of the United States. 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.

      .... "Let us bring the child back." The child is God's gift to
   the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness
   of God for greater things--to love and to be loved. In this year of
   the family we must bring the child back to the center of our care
   and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive
   because our children are the only hope for the future. As older
   people are called to God, only their children can take their
   places. (199)

Many other Catholic Church leaders, bishops, priests, and committed Catholic (and Protestant) lay persons (including many academic members of University Faculty for Life) also have been indefatigable over the past half-century in articulating and espousing reasons to reject elective abortion and protect unborn children. (200)

Due in great part to the pro-life members of religious communities, their voice and their church's teachings, the pro-abortion moment has begun to wane. A new generation of young people today is asking hard questions about why abortion is justified that few young persons would have dared to ask thirty years ago, and support for elective abortion is eroding. American public sentiment in favor of the pro-life position is greater today than it has ever been since Gallup began polling the issue in 1975; overall pro-life support in the Gallup opinion poll is higher today than all but two or three years since 1995; and the gap (which has never closed) between those who say abortion should be legal in only a few or no circumstances (61%) and the percentage of those who say it should be legal in most or any circumstances (37%) is the third greatest it has been in eighteen years. (201)

Moreover, there has been a recent explosion of pro-life bills introduced and laws passed in recent years. The pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute notes a "troubling trend" of many states shifting from having just a moderate number of abortion restrictions to having many such restrictions, and calls the change "unprecedented" and "a seismic shift." (202)

Focusing on 2011, Guttmacher researchers Gold and Nash summarize:

   Over the course of 2011, legislators in all 50 states introduced
   more than 1,100 provisions related to reproductive health and
   rights. At the end of it all, states had adopted 135 new
   reproductive health provisions--a dramatic increase from the 89
   enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009. Fully 92 of the enacted
   provisions seek to restrict abortion, shattering the previous
   record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005.... A striking
   68% of the reproductive health provisions from 2011 are abortion
   restrictions, compared with only 26% the year before. (203)

The pro-life legislative push continued in 2012. In its 2012 Mid-Year Legislative Wrap-Up, the Center for Reproductive Rights noted: "While over the last few years there has been an increasing hostility to women's access to a broad range of reproductive health care, the 2011 state legislative sessions were marked by unbridled animosity toward abortion and contraception." (204) This report noted, inter alia, that for "the third year in a row, state legislatures considered a number of proposals to limit or eliminate women's access to insurance coverage for abortion," (205) that "at least nine states consider[ed] proposals to prohibit health care providers from providing medication abortion through telemedicine," (206) that in seventeen states, legislators introduced bills "imposing burdensome requirements that are different and more stringent than regulations applied to comparable medical practices," (207) that fourteen states ... considered new or expanded "conscience clause" provisions, (208) and that, overall, by the end of June 2012, "at least seventeen states ha[d] enacted almost fifty harmful [to elective abortion] laws." (209)

So the persistent, constant expression of pro-life views within and by members of faith communities, over time, seems to have had a profound effect upon public opinion and on resulting democratic processes and legislation. While correlation does not prove causation, and while undoubtedly many other factors have influenced public opinion and legislation regarding elective abortion, there does appear to be a positive association between the pattern of persistent pro-life expression in and by faith communities and strong pro-life sentiment measured in public opinion polls and evidenced in democratic and legislative proposals.


Most importantly, it appears that communication of moral teachings, policies, and practical standards--clearly established and consistently espoused by leaders of faith communities--does have a positive impact on the beliefs and behaviors of many individual members of those faith communities and, through them, on the larger society. Message matters. Communication of that message matters. Explaining that message matters, especially where moral and ethical dilemmas and moral controversies are complicated by social pressures.

To paraphrase Joseph Smith, when the leaders of a faith community clearly teach the basic underlying principles regarding a moral issue, and when the doctrines and policies they adopt also clearly and consistently manifest and implement those principles, the members of that community generally are empowered and motivated to govern themselves justly by acting upon those principles in ways that promote and protect the core moral interests and the doctrines and policies that embody them.

Our nation and the world are indebted to courageous, outstanding leaders and members of the Catholic and other faith communities for not giving up, for keeping the issue alive, for rejecting false justifications and for persistently teaching correct principles about the value of prenatal life and the evil of elective abortion. We all need to multiply our efforts. Church leaders and members of many faiths can do this.

As Pope Benedict XVI said in September 2011, the Christian churches "are walking side by side" and must "[s]peak up jointly for the protection of human life from conception to natural death." (210) Earlier, during a trip to England, he called upon Christians worldwide "to do more to protect human life from abortion...." (211) "Each of us has a mission, each of us is called to change the world, to work for a culture of life," he added. (212) Pope John Paul II likewise declared: "You are called to stand up for life! To respect and defend the mystery of life always and everywhere, including the lives of unborn babies, giving real help and encouragement to mothers in difficult situations." (213)

The courageous German Protestant martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, expressed the core point in a different but very relevant context when he wrote: "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." (214) Similarly, Elie Weizel said in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, recalling his years in Auschwitz, where he witnessed infants being tossed into fire pits and other forms of lethal, depraved inhumanity: "I swore never to be silent.... We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor...." (215)

All of our faith communities, and probably most of us individually, can do more and do it better. We all need to teach more clearly, communicate more effectively, and explain more convincingly the principles upon which rejection of elective abortion is based and upon which a true, effective culture of life must be built. As Weizel put it: "There is so much to be done, there is so much that can be done. One person--a Raoul Wallenberg, an Albert Schweitzer, a Martin Luther King, Jr.--one person of integrity can make a difference, a difference of life and death." (216) By clearly, effectively, persistently teaching correct principles and implementing just doctrine and policies, churches can help to motivate individuals to make such a difference, to stand up and to speak up, to protect the most innocent and vulnerable human beings against the modern holocaust of elective abortion.


Major Supreme Court Abortion Cases (Excluding Most Summary Dispositions and Procedural or Incidental Cases)

* = pro-life free speech or expression case

1. United States v. Vuitch, 402 U.S. 62 (1971)

2. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)

3. Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179 (1973)

4. Bigelow v. Virginia, 421 U.S. 809 (1975)

5. Connecticut v. Menillo, 423 U.S. 9 (1975)

6. Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52 (1976)

7. Bellotti v. Baird (I), 428 U.S. 132 (1976)

8. Maher v. Roe, 432 U.S. 464 (1977)

9. Beal v. Doe, 432 U.S. 438 (1977)

10. Poelker v. Doe, 432 U.S. 519 (1977)

11. Colautti v. Franklin, 439 U.S. 379 (1979)

12. Bellotti v. Baird (II), 443 U.S. 622 (1979)

13. Harris v. McRae, 448 U.S. 297 (1980)

14. Williams v. Zbaraz, 448 U.S. 358 (1980)

15. H. L. v. Matheson, 450 U.S. 398 (1981)

16. City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, Inc., 462 U.S. 416 (1983)

17. Planned Parenthood Association of Kansas, Missouri, Inc. v. Ashcroft, 462 U.S. 476 (1983)

18. Simopoulos v. Virginia, 462 U.S. 506 (1983)

19. Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 476 U.S. 747 (1986)

20. Diamond v. Charles, 476 U.S. 54 (1986)

21. Frisby v. Schultz, 487 U.S. 474 (1988) *

22. Webster v. Reproductive Health Center, Inc., 492 U.S. 490 (1989) *

23. Hodgson v. Minnesota, 497 U.S. 417 (1990)

24. Ohio v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, Inc., 497 U.S. 502 (1990)

25. Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173 (1991)

26. Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992) *

27. Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, 508 U.S. 263 (1993) *

28. National Organization for Women, Inc. v. Scheidler, 510 U.S. 249 (1994) *

29. Madsen v. Women's Health Center, Inc., 512 U.S. 753 (1994) *

30. Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York, 519 U.S. 357 (1997) *

31. Lambert v. Wicklund, 117 S. Ct. 1169 (1997)

32. Mazurek v. Armstrong, 117 S. Ct. 1865 (1997)

33. Hill v. Colorado, 530 U.S. 703 (2000) *

34. Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914 (2000)

35. Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood, 546 U.S. 320 (2006)

36. Scheidler v. National Organization for Women, Inc., 537 U.S. 393 (2006) *

37. Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007)

Other Significant Supreme Court Cases Involving Abortion

1. Arnold v. Sendak, 429 U.S. 968 (1976)

2. Guste v. Jackson, 429 U.S. 399 (1977) *

3. Hartigan v. Zbaraz, 108 S. Ct. 479 (1987)

4. Fargo Women's Clinit v. Schafer, 507 U.S. 1013 (1993)

5. Lawson v. Murray, 515 U.S. 1110 (1995) *

6. Leavitt v. Jane L., 116 S. Ct. 2068 (1996)

7. Janklow v. Planned Parenthood, 517 U.S. 1174 (1996)

8. Lawson v. Murray, 525 U.S. 955(1998) *

9. Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, 551 U.S. U.S. 449 (2007) *

IN EVEN AND "5" YEARS, 1972, 1973-2008 (217)

                       Ab           Ab
Year      # Aborts     Rate (218)   Ratio (219)

1972      587,000      N/A          N/A
1973      745,000      16.3         193
1974      899,000      19.3         220
1975      1,034,200    21.7         249
1976      1,179,000    24.2         265
1978      1,410,000    27.7         294
1980      1,554,000    29.3         300
1982      1,574,000    28.8         299
1984      1,577,000    28.1         297
1985      1,589,000    28.0         298
1986      1,574,000    27.4         294
1987      1,559,110    26.9         289
1988      1,590,800    27.3         288
1990      1,609,000    27.4         280
1992      1,529,000    25.9         275
1994      1,423,000    22.5         266
1995      1,359,400    22.5         259
1996      1,360,200    22.4         259
N 1998    1,319,000    21.5         250
2000      1,313,000    21.3         245
N 2002    1,293,000    20.9         242
2004      *
N 2005    1,206,200    19.4         224
2006      *            *            *
2008      1,212,400    19.6         n/a *

          % Repeat     %<19        %
Year      (220)        Yr          unm=d

1972      N/A          N/A         N/A
1973      N/A          32.8        71.0
1974      15.2         32.5        72.4
1975      --           --          --
1976      22.7         32.1        75.4
1978      29.5         30.8        76.5
1980      33.0         29.6        79.4
1982      36.8         27.5        80.9
1984      N/A          26.4        81.8
1985      40.5         26.2        82.3
1986      41.4         25.7        82.3
1987      42.2         25.4        82.4
1988      N/A          25.6        82.6
1990      45.0         23.0        82.0
1992      47           --          --
1994      N/A          21.8 (5)    81.6 (6)
1995      --           --          --
1996      N/A          N/A         N/A
N 1998    --           --          --
2000      48           19.3 (7)    83.0 (8)
N 2002    --           --          82.0 (12)
N 2005    47           --          --
2006      *            *           *
2008      n/a *        n/a *       n/a *

STATES (221) AND UTAH (222)

Year    U.S. Total    Utah         US Rate
        Abortions     Total        Per 1,000
                      Abortions    Females
                                   years old

1973    742,500       100          16.5
1975    1,034,200     2,000        22.1
1980    1,553,900     4,200        29.3
1985    1,588,600     4,400        28.0
1990    1,608,600     4,796        27.4
1995    1,359,400     3,705        22.5
2000    1,313,000     3,509        21.3
2005    1,206,200     3,556        19.4

2008    1,212,400     3,779        19.6

Year    Utah Rate      US                 Utah
        Per 1,000      Ratio              Ratio
        Females        per                per
        15-44 years    1,000              1,000
        old            Live               Live
                       Births             Births

1973    6.4            239                4
1975    7.8            331                60
1980    12.3           428                97
1985    11.1           425                116
1990    10.5           389                114.7
1995    6.9            350                83.2
2000    6.2            324                69.3
2005    5.7            Not                63.4
                       Available (223)
2008    5.7            Not                66.1

(1.) Joseph Smith: Life of the Prophet, THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, ARCRD&vgnextfmt=tab2 (last visited Apr. 17, 2011); see also 3 JAMES R. CLARK, MESSAGES OF THE FIRST PRESIDENCY 54 (1965).

(2.) The term "elective abortions" is used herein to mean abortions that are done for reasons of personal preference and choice and not because of medical necessity or a comparably rare and severe moral dilemma entailing extreme dangers such as (1) otherwise irremediable and grave threat to the life of the mother; (2) extreme and severe risk to the health of the mother; (3) cases of irreversible, imminent, terminal condition of the unborn child; or (4) in such cases of rape or incest.

(3.) See infra Part II.

(4.) John W. Welch, Toward a Mormon Jurisprudence, 21 REGENT U. L. REV. 79, 81 (2008) ("The term 'Latter-Day Saint' is better reserved to describe official doctrines, policies, or programs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.").

(5.) The author has written extensively about abortion and rights of conscience in healthcare. See, e.g., Lynn D. Wardle, Rights of Conscience vs. Peer-Driven Medical Ethics: A COG and Abortion, in LIFE & LEARNING XVIII 23 (Joseph W. Koterski, S.J., ed. 2011); Lynn D. Wardle, Protection of Health-Care Providers' Rights of Conscience in American Law: Present, Past, and Future, 9 AVE MARIA L. REV. 1 (2010); Lynn D. Wardle, The Quandary of Pro-life Free Speech: A Lesson from the Abolitionists, 62 ALB. L. REV. 853 (1999) [hereinatter Wardle, The Quandary]; Lynn D. Wardle, Roe v. Wade: Effects of Twenty-Five Years of Constitutionalized Abortion on Demand, in LIFE AND LEARNING VIII 149 (Joseph W. Koterski, ed. 1999); Lynn D. Wardle, "Crying Stones "': A Comparison of Abortion in Japan and the United States, 14 N.Y.L. SCH. J. INT'L & COMP. L. 183 (1994); Lynn D. Wardle, Thomas Jefferson v. Casey, THE HUMAN LIFE REVIEW, vol. XX, no. 3, at 49 (Summer 1994); Lynn D. Wardle, Protecting the Rights of Conscience of Health Care Providers, 14 J. LEGAL MED. 177 (1993); Lynn D. Wardle, A Matter of Conscience: Legal Protection for the Rights of Conscience of Health Care Providers, 2 CAMBRIDGE Q. HEALTH CARE ETHICS 529 (1993); Lynn D. Wardle, Rethinking Roe v. Wade, 1985 BYU L. REV. 231 (1985); Lynn D. Wardle, Restricting Abortion Through Legislation, in TO RESCUE THE FUTURE: THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT IN THE EIGHTIES 101 (Dave Andrusko ed., 1984); LYNN D. WARDLE & MARY ANNE Q. WOOD, A LAWYER LOOKS AT ABORTION (1982); LYNN D. WARDLE, THE ABORTION PRIVACY DOCTRINE (1981); Lynn D. Wardle, The Gap Between Law and Moral Order: An Examination of the Legitimacy of the Supreme Court Abortion Decisions, BYU L. REV. 911 (1980).

(6.) 410U.S. 113(1973).

(7.) 410U.S. 179(1973).

(8.) See Appendix I infra.

(9.) The transformation of the moral rating of abortion has been a world-wide phenomenon, and is not limited to the United States alone. See generally Stanley K. Henshaw, Susheela Singh & Taylor Haas, The Incidence of Abortion Worldwide, 25 INT'L. FAM. PLAN. PERSPECTIVES S30 (Supp. 1999) (reporting on numbers and rates of abortion in most nations worldwide); Susan A. Cohen, Guttmacher Responds to Critics of Global Abortion Study, RH REALITY CHECK (Oct. 20, 2009), blog/2009/10/20/a-response-critics-guttmacher-study-global-abortion-trends ("Nineteen countries have significantly reduced restrictions in their abortion laws since 1997, while only three countries have substantially increased legal restrictions."); World Publics Reject Criminal Penalties for Abortion, WORLDPUBLICOPINION.ORG, rightsra/492.php?nid=&id=&pnt=492 (last visited Aug. 13, 2012) (explaining that of the eighteen national populations surveyed, nine populations opposed efforts to discourage abortion, and that seventeen out of eighteen opposed criminal penalties for such). However, as this Article focuses on the LDS faith community in the United States, the discussion of the history of abortion is limited to the United States.

(10.) See generally JOSEPH W. DELLAPENNA, DISPELLING THE MYTHS OF ABORTION HISTORY 185-406 (2006); WARDLE & WOOD, supra note 5, at 28-54.

(11.) MODEL PENAL CODE [section] 230.3 (1962).

(12.) See WARDLE & WOOD, supra note 5, at 42-43.

(13.) Id.

(14.) 410 U.S. 113 (1973).

(15.) 410 U.S. 179 (1973).

(16.) See MODEL PENAL CODE [section] 230.6 (1962).

(17.) Roe, 410 U.S. at 152-167.

(18.) See WARDLE & WOOD, supra note 5, at 47-168.

(19.) Doe, 410 U.S. at 208 (Burger, C.J., concurring).

(20.) 476 U.S. 747, 783 (1986) (Burger, C.J., dissenting), overruled by Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). In Thornburgh, a Pennsylvania statute requiring that a woman be informed of the name of the physician who had performed the abortion, the "particular medical risks" of the abortion procedure to be used, the risks of childbirth, the possibility of detrimental physical and psychological effects, the medical assistance benefits available for childbirth and prenatal care, the fact that the father would be liable for assistance in supporting the child, and the agencies offering alternatives to abortion was invalidated, Id. at 760-61. For the Court, Justice Blackmun sharply condemned the provisions as designed to deter the exercise of freedom of choice. Id. at 799. The requirement of disclosure of facts of fetal development was also invalidated after Justice Blackmun characterized them as nothing less than an attempt to discourage abortion and intrude into the privacy of the woman and her physician. See id at 762. Other provisions were impermissibly designed to protect the life and interests of the viable fetus subject to abortion. Id. The majority invalidated requirements that the physician performing post-viability abortions exercise the degree of care required to preserve the life and health of an unborn child intended to be born alive and to use the abortion technique that would provide the best opportunity for the unborn child to be born alive unless it would present a significantly greater medical risk to the woman's life or health, and that a second physician be present during the performance of an abortion when the fetus was possibly viable. See id. at 768-69. Having condemned what it considered the wrongful intent of the Pennsylvania legislature, the majority refused to accept good faith of the state's construction of the statute, and found that it would require pregnant women to bear increased medical risks in order to save viable fetuses, failed to explicitly contain a medical-emergency exception, and curtailed the performance of post viability abortions--all in contravention of the fundamental right of abortion privacy. See id. at 769-70. Four justices dissented.

(21.) See WARDLE & WOOD, supra note 5, at 43 ("In 1971, however, resistance to the abortion law reform movement appeared to coalesce. That year, 34 legislatures considered proposals to liberize their abortion laws, but none of those provisions were enacted.").

(22.) See infra note 24 and accompanying text.

(23.) Judith Blake, Abortion and Public Opinion: The 1960-1970 Decade, 171 SCI. 540, 541 tbl. 1 (Feb. 12, 1971). She also presciently concluded in 1971 that "a Supreme Court ruling concerning the constitutionality of existing state restrictions is the only road to rapid change in the grounds for abortion." Id. at 548.

(24.) Judith Blake, The Supreme Court's Abortion Decisions and Public Opinion in the United States, 3 POPULATION & DEV. REV. 45, 47-49 (Mar.-June 1977).

(25.) Id. at 50.

(26.) Id. at 57-58. She concludes:

   [I]t is by no means clear whether the cause of elective abortion is
   better or worse off today [1977] than it would have been had the
   states been allowed to continue to adopt liberalized abortion
   statutes without judicial prodding. For those interested in
   assessing the effectiveness of judicial review as a mechanism of
   social change, it is a question worth asking.

Id. at 61.


(28.) Id.

(29.) Id.

   At the same time, there have been notable changes over the years in
   the balance of support for the more extreme opinions at either end
   of the abortion policy spectrum. In the initial years after the Roe
   v. Wade decision, the number of Americans holding the extreme
   positions was roughly the same, at the 20% level. In the 1980s,
   attitudes gradually shifted toward the pro-choice position, so that
   by 1990, the liberal extreme outnumbered the conservative extreme
   by a more than two-to-one margin. This trend peaked in June 1992,
   with 34% saying abortion should be legal in all cases and only 13%
   saying it should be completely banned. However, in 1996, a sharp
   reversal occurred, with a drop in the number holding the extreme
   pro-choice position (this fell to 22% by 1997).... Most recently
   Gallup has found about a quarter of Americans (26%) saying abortion
   should be legal in all cases, a little over half (56%) saying it
   should be legal in certain cases and 17% saying it should be
   illegal in all cases.


(30.) Id. at 1-3.

(31.) Id. at 1 (emphasis added). However, perhaps a distinction exists between whether individuals personally believe that abortion is morally unacceptable and whether they believe that it is so morally unacceptable and harmful socially that it should be prohibited by law.

(32.) Ironically, the best data about abortion incidence and practice comes from the pro-choice private Alan Guttmacher Institute rather than the government Centers for Disease Control. See The History of the Guttmacher Institute, GUTTMACHER INSTITUTE, about/history.html (last visited Aug. 13, 2012) (noting that it was originally a subsidiary of Planned Parenthood); Guttmacher Institute, Abortion in the United States, YOUTUBE (Apr. 28, 2011),

(33.) The rate of abortions per 1000 women ages fifteen to forty-four peaked in 1980 (at 2.93%) as did the ratio of abortions per known pregnancies (at 30%), while the raw number of abortions peaked in 1990 (at 1,609,000). See infra Appendix II, III.

(34.) SAAD, supra note 27, at 1-2.

(35.) Id. at 2.

(36.) See infra notes 128-54 and accompanying text. See also JOHN W. MAHAFFY, ABORTION AND THE BIBLE 3 (1971), available at AND%20THE%20BIBLE.pdf (last visited May 30, 2012).

   [A]lthough relatively few passages say much directly about abortion
   or the status of unborn children, the assumption of Scripture is
   that the fetus is a human being and an image of God. Thus the life
   of the fetus may not be taken without destroying someone who is the
   image of God.


(37.) Lyman A. Kellstedt, Abortion and the Political Process, in ABORTION: A CHRISTIAN UNDERSTANDING AND RESPONSE 212 (James A. Hoffmeir ed., 1987).

(38.) See infra notes 45-56 and accompanying text.

(39.) 18 U.S.C.A. [section] 248 (West).

(40.) Judith Daar, Federalizing Embryo Transfers: Taming the Wild West of Reproductive Medicine, 23 COLUM. J. GENDER & L. 257, 284 n.113 (2012). The original text of the article over/mis-states the scope of activities barred by FACE, but that is typical of the disrespect for the expressive rights of pro-life demonstrators.

(41.) Planned Parenthood of Columbia/Willamette, Inc. v. Am. Coal. of Activists, 290 F.3d 1058, 1062 (9th Cir. 2002).

(42.) Neal Devins, How Planned Parenthood v. Casey (Pretty Much) Settled the Abortion Wars, 118 YALE L.J. 1318, 1330 (2009).

(43.) 18 U.S.C.A. [section] [section] 1961-68 (West 2006).

(44.) Amee Lakhani, Case Brief: Seheidler v. National Organization for Women, Inc., 10 DEPAUL J. H. CARE L. 493, 493 (2007).

(45.) 546 U.S. 9 (2006).

(46.) Lakhani, supra note 44.

(47.) See generally Sue Ann Mota, Scheidler v. NOW: The Supreme Court Holds that Abortion Protesters Are not Racketeers, 16 REGENT U. L. REV. 139 (2003-2004) (reviewing the seventeen year history of litigation in Scheidler and noting related cases).

(48.) See generally Katherine Hessler, Early Efforts to Suppress Protest: Unwanted Abolitionist Speech, 7 B.U. PUB. INT. L.J. 185 (1998); Christopher P. Keleher, Comment, Double Standards: The Suppression of Abortion Protesters' Free Speech Rights, 51 DEPAUL L. REV. 825 (2002); Wardle, The Quandary, supra note 5 passim; Brian J. Murray, Note, Protesters, Extortion, and Coercion: Preventing RICO from Chilling First Amendment Freedoms, 75 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 691 (1999).

(49.) See generally Hill v. Colorado, 530 U.S. 703 (2000) (upholding Colorado law banning approaching within eight feet anyone near any medical facility without their consent); Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of W. N.Y., 519 U.S. 357 (1997) (affirming injunction that created fixed bubble zones and cease-and-desist rules, restricting anti-abortion protesting outside of abortion clinic, but invalidating floating buffer zones); Madsen v. Women's Health Ctr., Inc., 512 U.S. 753 (1994) (upholding injunction against pro-life protesting).

(50.) See, e.g., St. John Church in the Wilderness v. Scott, 194 P.3d 475, 478 (Colo. App. 2008) (holding that pro-lifers picketing on sidewalks in the vicinity of a church with ties to an abortion clinic should be enjoined from such picketing because the signs upset churchgoers); Planned Parenthood Golden Gate v. Superior Court, 83 Cal. App. 4th 347 (2000) (describing injunction against pro-life protester for counseling and leafleting outside an abortion clinic). See also Life Legal Defense Foundation, Recap, LIFELINE, Winter 2010, available at visited Aug. 18, 2012) (describing three California cases--Conrad v. San Bernardino, White v. San Bernardino, and People v. Pomeroy--involving arrests of pro-life sidewalk counselors).

(51.) Pro-Life Cougars v. Univ. of Hous., 259 F. Supp.2d 575 (S.D. Tex. 2003). See generally Lyrissa Lidsky, Public Forum 2.0, 91 B.U.L. Rev. 1975, 1991 n.109 (2011) (explaining what constitutes a public forum, which was an issue in Pro-Life Cougars v. University of Houston).

(52.) Hill, 530 U.S. at 707. See also Moreno v. Town of Los Gatos, 267 Fed. Appx. 665 (9th Cir. 2008) (explaining that pro-lifers were arrested for picketing and distributing literature on public sidewalk outside a high school after police told them they had to stay 1,000 feet from the school, and that eventually the town agreed to a permanent injunction and the payment of attorney fees). The court of appeals held that protesters were entitled to statutory damages under state law. Id.

(53.) Choose Life Ill., Inc. v. White, 547 F.3d 853 (7th Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 130 S. Ct. 59 (2009). See also Planned Parenthood of S.C., Inc. v. Rose, 361 F.3d 786 (4th Cir. 2004) (striking "choose life" licenses plates without pro-choice alternative), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 1119 (2005); but see Roach v. Stouffer, 560 F.3d 860 (8th Cir. 2009) (holding that state denial of Choose Life special plate was unconstitutional); Ariz. Life Coal., Inc. v. Stanton, 515 F.3d 956 (9th Cir. 2008) (holding that state denial of Choose Life special plate was unconstitutional), cert. denied, 555 U.S. 815 (2008); ACLU of Tenn. v. Bredesen, 441 F.3d 370 (6th Cir. 2006) (upholding "choose life" license plates without pro-choice alternative), cert. denied, 548 U.S. 906 (2006). See generally Steven H. Goldberg, The Government-Speech Doctrine: "Recently Minted;" but Counterfeit, 49 LA. L. REV. 21, 46-49 (2010) (reviewing and critiquing "choose life" license plate cases); Mark Strasser, Ignore the Man Behind the Curtain: On the Government Speech Doctrine and What It Licenses, 21 B.U. PUB. INT. L.J. 85, 114-26 (2011); Brielle C. Goldfaden, Comment, "Choose Life" Plates: The States" License to Discriminate Based on Viewpoint, 5 SETON HALL CIRCUIT REV. 279, 299 (2008).

(54.) See e.g., Wiechec v. Colo. State Patrol, 1:09-CV-02358 (D. Colo. Mar. 15, 2010) (explaining that pro-lifer was arrested for disrupting a lawful assembly by protesting at a rally opposing the Colorado Personhood Amendment held on steps of state capitol, and that charges were dismissed after the pro-choice governor was subpoenaed to testify about application of the law against pro-lifers but not against pro-abortionists).

(55.) Logsdon v. Hains, 492 F.3d 334 (6th Cir. 2007) (explaining that sidewalk counselor's civil rights lawsuit for damages filed against the Cincinnati police officers for arresting a sidewalk counselor at abortion clinic without probable cause was dismissed by a trial court, but the Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that a prudent officer would listen to witnesses on both sides, rather than only listening to clinic employee and telling pro-lifers to tell it to the jury). After the defendants' petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court was denied and the ease remanded for further proceedings, the city settled for damages and attorney fees. Id.

(56.) At least three federal courts have invalidated such laws. See O'Brien v. Mayor and City Council of Balt., 768 F.Supp. 2d 804 (D. Md. 2011), aff'd by Greater Bait. Ctr. for Pregnancy Concerns, Inc. v. Mayor and City Council of Balt., 683 F.3d 539, 556 (4th Cir. 2012), rehearing en banc granted, 2012 WL 7855859 (4th Cir. 2012); Evergreen Ass'n, Inc. v. New York City, 801 F.Supp.2d 197 (S.D.N.Y. 2011).

(57.) For a description of several examples, see General Recap & Update, LIFELINE (Summer 2012), available at (last visited Aug. 18, 2012) (discussing, inter alia, People v. White, and describing how clinic personnel allegedly turned a high pressure sprinkler nozzle into the faces of pro-life demonstrators, injuring the eye of one protester); General Recap & Update, LIFELINE (Spring 2009), available at Spring.pdf (discussing Condit v. John Doe in which a pro-abortion driver attempted to run over pro-life picketer). In July 2012, a young man was hit by a ear and killed while walking on a highway in Indiana with Crossroads, a pro-life group engaged in a walk-for-life. Joseph Moore's Moving Tribute to His Son Andrew Who Died During the Pro-Life Crossroads Walk, LIFESITENEWS.COM (July 21, 2012), visited Aug. 18, 2012).

(58.) See, e.g., Mary Anne Franks, When Bad Speech Does Good, 43 LOY. U. CHI. L.J. 395, 395 (2012) ("[Any] censorship is likely to stifle or chill good speech as well as bad speech."); Kristen Walker, Why the Mainstream Media Ignores or Distorts the March for Life, LIVEACTION.ORG BLOG (Jan. 25, 2012), (last visited Aug. 21, 2012).

   [Rallies of 8,000 in Dallas, 50,000 in Los Angeles, and up to
   400,000 in Washington, D.C. were ignored by local and national
   media. Why?]

   Apologists would have us believe that half a million to maybe more
   than a million people taking to the streets every year for the
   anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision is not newsworthy. Why?
   Well, because it happens every year!

   Where's the story in that?

   Here's the story: It happens every year.

   Every single year, at least half a million people around the
   country protest for the same cause. Does that happen for any other
   cause besides abortion? Tell me if it does, I'd like to know.

Id. See also Komen Foundation VP Resigns, Blasts Planned Parenthood, CNN.COM, (Feb. 7, 2012), ("The Komen foundation later reversed its decision [to stop giving funding to Planned Parenthood] after being faced with a deluge of opposition that included pressure from lawmakers and internal dissent.").

(59.) See generally Russell Hittinger, Resisting the Sovereign, 3 TEX. REV. L. & POL. 149, 153 ("[A]s pro-life activists have been reminded, the sovereign will not necessarily think that suppressing protests against abortion constitutes a 'chilling effect' upon speech...."); Wardle, The Quandary, supra note 5, at 883-94 (reviewing examples of efforts to chill and suppress pro-life free speech).

(60.) Michael Otterson, What Makes Mormons Tick?, WASH. POST GUEST VOICES BLOG (Aug. 6, 2012, 7:35 PM), tick/2012/08/06/828d4780-e019-11e1-8fc5-a7dcflfc161d_blog.html.

   The overarching goal [in a Mormon ward] which everybody works for
   is to lift others in a way that reflects a community of latter-day,
   Christian disciples. Everyone needs help from time to time, and
   everyone also needs to give help. Wards and stakes ... also try to
   reach out and serve with others of goodwill in the community.

Id. The Mormon's "collective commitment to each other is a direct consequence of their commitment to be followers of Jesus Christ." Id.

(61.) Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Sustaining of Church Officers, ENSIGN, Apr. 2012. See generally DOCTRINES AND COVENANTS 124:94, 125 [hereinafter D&C] (explaining that the president of the Church is called "a revelator, a seer, and prophet").

(62.) Thus, Mormons are admonished in word of a modern revelation: "Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith." D&C 21:4-5.

(63.) Church News, THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, It presents itself as the "Authorized News Web site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." Id.

(64.) For example, the sermons delivered in the April 2012 semi-annual general conference are available at (last visited Aug. 7, 2012).

(65.) For example, the General Handbook of Instructions, THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST LATTER-DAY SAINTS, HANDBOOK 2: ADMINISTERING THE CHURCH (2012) [hereinafter HAC-II], is available at (last visited Aug. 7, 2012).

(66.) Joseph Smith, supra note 1; James R. Clark, supra note 1. When the Mormons were forcibly driven out of Missouri under the infamous "extermination order" of Governor Lilburn Boggs, Church leaders bought a large tract of land in Illinois, much of it swampy, on the banks of the Mississippi River, and the religious refugees settled there. See William G. Hartley, Missouri's 1838 Extermination Order and the Mormon's Forced Removal to Illinois, 5 MORMON HISTORICAL STUDIES 2 available at (last visited May 30, 2012). Within five years, the new settlement, called "Nauvoo" became the largest city in Illinois. Id. During that brief period of prosperity,

   [A] member of the [Illinois] Legislature, asked Joseph Smith how it
   was that he was enabled to govern so many people, and to preserve
   such perfect order; remarking at the same time that it was
   impossible for them to do it anywhere else. Mr. Smith remarked that
   it was very easy to do that. "How?" responded the gentleman; "to us
   it is very difficult." Mr. Smith replied, "I teach them correct
   principles, and they govern themselves."

THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, TEACHINGS OF THE PRESIDENTS OF THE CHURCH: JOSEPH SMITH 281, 284 (2007) available at locale=0&sourceld=45f720596a845110VgnVCM100000176f620a_&vgnextoid=da135f74db46c010V gnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD#footnote3 (last visited May 30, 2012).

(67.) D&C 58:26-27.

(68.) See generally Welch, supra note 4, at 95-103.

(69.) But cf D&C 88:78-80:

   Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be
   instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in
   the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom
   of God, that are expedient for you to understand; Of things both in
   heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have
   been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass;
   things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the
   perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the
   land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms--That ye
   may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to
   magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission
   with which I have commissioned you.

(70.) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Topic: Abortion, NEWSROOM: THE OFFICIAL RESOURCE FOR NEWS MEDIA, OPINION LEADERS, AND THE PUBLIC, official-statement/abortion (last visited Apr. 17, 2013) [herein Abortion]. This is the Church's official statement on abortion.

(71.) HAC-II, supra note 65, [section] 21.4.1. See also Harold B. Lee et al., Policies and Procedures: Statement on Abortion, NEW ERA (Apr. 1973) ("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."); Spencer W. Kimball, "Why Call Me Lord, Lord, and Do Not the Things Which I Say?", ENSIGN, May 1975, at 7 ("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.").

(72.) Abortion, supra note 70.

(73.) See Johnnie Glad, Proclaming the Message: A Comparison of the Mormon Missionary Strategy with Other Mainstream Christian Missions, 2 INT'L J. MORMON STUD. 142, 147 (Spring 2009), available at (last visited Apr. 20, 2013) ("[T]he following categories of members are not normally recommended to serve full-time missions: ... Women who have submitted to abortion, or men or women who have performed, encouraged, paid for or arranged for an abortion."). Note that the author is a non-LDS minister discussing Mormon missions.

(74.) THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, PREACH MY GOSPEL: A GUIDE TO MISSIONARY SERVICE 37 (2004). See D&C 1:4-13; 4:1-7; 12:1-9; 14:1-7; 16:1-6; 50:14; 71:1-4; Robert D. Hales, Couple Missionaries: Blessings from Sacrifice and Service, ENSIGN, May 2005, at 39.

(75.) Thomas S. Monson, As We Meet Together Again, ENSIGN, Oct. 2010.

      First, to young men of the Aaronic Priesthood and to you young men
   who are becoming elders: I repeat what prophets have long
   taught--that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a
   mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty--an obligation the
   Lord expects of us who have been given so very much. Young men, I
   admonish you to prepare for service as a missionary. Keep
   yourselves clean and pure and worthy to represent the Lord.
   Maintain your health and strength. Study the scriptures. Where such
   is available, participate in seminary or institute. Familiarize
   yourself with the missionary handbook Preach My Gospel

      A word to you young sisters: while you do not have the same
   priesthood responsibility as do the young men to serve as full-time
   missionaries, you also make a valuable contribution as
   missionaries, and we welcome your service.


(76.) D&C 59:6.

(77.) See, e.g., Russell M. Nelson, Abortion, an Assault on the Defenseless, ENSIGN, Oct. 2008, at 32 ("This matters greatly to us because the Lord has repeatedly declared this divine imperative: 'Thou shalt not kill.' Then He added, 'Nor do anything like unto it.'") (quoting D&C 59:6). See also notes 66 and 67 and accompanying text.

(78.) SUSAN EASTON BLACK, WHO'S WHO IN THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS 13-15 (1997) ("John was elected mayor of Nauvoo, Major-General of the Nauvoo Legion, Chancellor of Nauvoo University ... and was appointed Assistant to Joseph Smith"); 2012 Deseret News Church Almanac, 106 (explaining that Bennett was sustained as "Assistant President with the First Presidency") B. H. ROBERTS, 4 COMPREHENSIVE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH 341 (1930) (explaining that Bennett was sustained "with the First Presidency as Assistant President until President Rigdon's health should be restored."). It was probably John C. Bennett to whom Heber C. Kimball referred in one sermon delivered in 1857 in The Bowery in Salt Lake City, when he declared:

   I have been taught it, and my wife was taught it in our young days,
   when she got into the family way, to send for a doctor and get rid
   of the child, so as to live with me to gratify lust. It is God's
   truth, and I know the person that did it.

Heber C. Kimball, Oneness of the Priesthood--Impossibility of Obliterating Mormonism Gospel Ordinances--Depopulation of the Human Species--The Coming Famine, Etc., 5 J. DISCOURSES 86, 91 (July 26, 1857).

(79.) See ROBERTS, supra note 78, at 5. According to the affidavit of Hyrum Smith:

   Several females ... testified that John C. Bennett endeavored to
   seduce them, [saying] it was perfectly right to have illicit
   intercourse with females, providing no one knew it but themselves,
   vehemently trying them from day to day, to yield to his passions,
   ... and that he would give them medicine to produce abortions,
   provided they should become pregnant.

Id. at 71-75.

(80.) Richard Price & Pamela Price, Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, RESTORATION BOOKSTORE, (last visited May 31, 2012).

(81.) Id. See also BLACK, supra note 78.

(82.) See, e.g., Kimball, supra note 78, at 91 (quoted at length infra note 86 and accompanying text).

(83.) I acknowledge with gratitude the outstanding research efforts of one of my student research assistants, Bryan Thursted, with whose assistance I have compiled a collection of sermons of church

leaders era containing statements about abortion during this era published in the Journal of Discourses, including two sermons delivered in 1857, one in 1867, and twenty between 1879 and 1885.

(84.) John Taylor, Discourse at Provo, Utah, Nov. 30, 1879, 20 J. DISCOURSES 348, 354-55 (1880).

(85.) Joseph F. Smith, Discourse Delivered in Salt Lake City, Oct. 29, 1882, 24 J. DISCOURSES 8, 11 (1884).

(86.) Kimball, supra note 78, at 91-92. His grandson, Spencer W. Kimball, was the twelfth president of the Church when I discovered this prophetic statement of his grandfather.

(87.) Brigham Young, The Word of Wisdom--Degeneracy--Wickedness in the United States--How to Prolong Life, 12 J. DISCOURSES 120 (Aug. 17, 1867).

(88.) Abortion, supra note 70.

(89.) Isaiah Bennett, Abortion: Who Teaches the Truth, CATHOLIC ANSWERS, .com/thisrocld1996/9609fea2.asp (last visited Nov. 11, 2010).

(90.) Id.

(91.) Id.

(92.) Id.

(93.) Gordon B. Hinckley, "What Are People Asking About Us?", ENSIGN, Nov. 1998, at 70.

(94.) Thomas S. Monson, The Women's Movement: Liberation or Deception, ENSIGN, Jan. 1971. By "free" the author meant not merely (or especially) no-cost abortion procedures but "free or liberal access to abortion," or "abortion on demand."

(95.) Id.

(96.) References to "Abortion" in LDS General Conference Talks: Apr. 1950-Apr. 2011, Compiled by Lynn D. Wardle, supplemented by Stefanie Franc (Sept. 2012) (copies in author's and Ave Mafia Law Review's possession).

(97.) See supra note 88 and accompanying text.

(98.) Lee et al., supra note 71.

(99.) Id. (emphasis added).

(100.) Id.

(101.) Dallin H. Oaks, The Great Plan of Happiness, ENSIGN, Nov. 1993, at. 74 (quoting D&C 59:6).

(102.) Boyd K. Packer, Covenants, ENSIGN, Nov. 1990, at 85.

(103.) Russell M. Nelson, Reverence for Life, ENSIGN, May 1985 (quoting Exodus 21:22).

(104.) Id.

(105.) Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, ENSIGN, Nov. 1998, at 70.

(106.) Nelson, supra note 103 ("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 feticide and infanticide.'").

(107.) Neal A. Maxwell, The Women of God, ENSIGN, May 1978, at 10.

(108.) Abortion, supra note 70.

(109.) Statement issued on Abortion, LDS CHURCH NEWS, (Jan. 19, 1991), See also infra Part III G.

(110.) HAC-II, supra note 65, [section] 21.4.1. The modifying term "elective" abortion is used only once, but it impliedly modifies all references to abortion in this paragraph from the Handbook of Instructions. Id.

(111.) This official Church position has evolved very little over the past fifty years, not in substance but in the detail of presentation, going for general to specific, especially in describing the narrow exceptions. See supra note 78 and accompanying text.

(112.) Packer, supra note 102.

(113.) See generally Cecilia Konchar Farr, Breaking the Silence, A faithful Mormon Explains Why She is Pro-Choice, NETWORK, Sept. 1992 at 12 (copy on file with author). Compare Lynn D. Wardle, Hiding Behind a False Morality, NETWORK, Dec. 1992 at 4 (copy on file with author).

(114.) See Cecilia Konchar Farr, We Belong to One Another in Faith, SUNSTONE, Sept. 1996, at 21, 23 (1996).


(116.) Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Constitutional Amendments of the Committee on the Judiciary on S.J. Res. 119 and S.J. Res. 130, 93rd Cong. 286, 318 (1974) (statement of Rep. David L. McKay).

(117.) Id. (emphasis added).

(118.) Abortion, NEWSROOM, (last visited Nov. 7, 2011).

(119.) The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles, The Family: A Proclamation to

(120.) Spencer W. Kimball, Guidelines to Carry Forth the Work of God in Cleanliness, ENSIGN, May 1974, at 4, 7, 9.

(121.) Spencer W. Kimball, The Foundations of Righteousness, ENSIGN, Nov. 1977, at 4-6.

(122.) Dallin H. Oaks, Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Address at Brigham Young Univ.: Weightier Matters (Feb. 9, 1999), in BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIV. SPEECHES, 1998-1999, available at

(123.) See, e.g., GORDON B. HINCKLEY, STANDING FOR SOMETHING, xvii-xxv, 167-68, 170-71, 172 (2000) (emphasizing the loss of sanctity of life due to millions of legal elective abortions and calling for Mormon Christians to stand up and speak up on such social issues); Dallin H. Oaks, Weightier Matters, B.Y.U., SPEECHES OF THE YEAR, 1998-1999 at 147, 148-151 (B.Y.U. Devotional Address, Feb. 9, 1999); see also Gordon B. Hinckley, ,4 Prophet's Counsel and Prayer for Youth, ENSIGN, Jan. 2001, at 12-17 (refuting "pro-choice" arguments for elective abortion and encouraging students at BYU to speak out against such evils); Elder James E. Faust, The Sanctity of Life, ENSIGN, May 1975, at 27 (lamenting that "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.").

(124.) Courtney S. Campbell, Mormonism (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), Bioethics in, ENCYC. OF BIOETHICS 1864, 1867 (2004).

(125.) Technically, questions of moral epistemology are matters of "metaethics." James Fieser, Ethics, INTERNET ENCYC. OF PHILOSOPHY, updated May 10, 2009).

(126.) Mormon Christians believe the circumstances vary in which eternal truths are lived out. Compare 2 Nephi 28:30 (explaining that the Lord gives to men "line upon line") with Isaiah 28:10 (explaining that mortal life is intended to be a time for personal moral growth and improvement), 2 Nephi 2:14-29 (explaining that the Fall was necessary for mankind to be able to "progress"), and Alma 12:21-26 (setting forth that life is a preparatory time, and a probationary state of testing).

(127.) See Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith and the Problems of Ethics, in PERSPECTIVES IN MORMON ETHICS: PERSONAL, SOCIAL, LEGAL AND MEDICAL 29, 31 (Donald G. Hill, Jr., ed., 1983) ("Joseph Smith belongs on the side of the discoverers [who assert that good is discovered, not invented]."). Compare LOUIS P. POJMAN & JAMES FIESER, ETHICS: DISCOVERING RIGHT AND WRONG xi (7th ed. 2012) ("Morality is not purely an invention ... but it also involves a discovery.") (emphasis added), with JOHN L. MACKIE, ETHICS: INVENTING RIGHT AND WRONG 106 (1977) ("[W]e have to decide what moral views to adopt. ...").

(128.) D&C 76:24 (explaining that all worlds were created by God, and all the inhabitants of all worlds "are begotten sons and daughters unto God"); John 3:16 (Revised Standard, Catholic Edition) ("God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life"); 1 John 4:8 ("God is love").

(129.) Moses 1:39.

(130.) God is the perfect embodiment of the Eternal, and "Eternal life" is God's life. D&C 14:7. See also Alma 7:16 (explaining that those who keep God's commandments shall have eternal life); 3 Nephi 9:14 (explaining that those who come unto God shall have eternal life); 2 Nephi 31:20 (explaining that those who "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men," and "feast ... upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end" shall have eternal life); 2 Nephi 26:24 ("[Christ] doeth not anything save it for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him.").

(131.) Paul explained that God gives no duty or trial or burden that cannot be endured. 1 Corinthians 10:13 ("No temptation have overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.."). See also 1 Nephi 3:7 ("[T]he Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."); 1 Nephi 17:3 (explaining that those who keep the commandments of God will be provided with a "means whereby they can accomplish the thing which [God] has commanded them").

(132.) 2 Nephi 2:25 ("Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.")

(133.) Certain saving ordinance must be performed in mortality (such as baptism, and certain temple ordinances including endowments and sealings in families); while they can be done vicariously for one after death God intends that His children choose and receive those blessings in mortality to get the maximum benefit from them.

(134.) The final state of the Sons of Perdition is not revealed with clarity but some LDS theological scholars assert that they will be resurrected in the resurrection of the unjust. See e.g., H. Donl Peterson, I Have a Question, ENSIGN, Apr. 1986.

(135.) HAC-II, supra note 65, [section] 21.3.8.

(136.) Mormon Christian teachings explain that in the pre-mortal existence, a great Spirit leader, Lucifer, a leading light, proposed to deny the sons and daughters of God their free agency, and he led a third part of the spirit children of God in a rebellion against God's plan to give humankind the gift of free agency. The rebellion failed, and Lucifer was thrust down to become Satan--the devil, the enemy of God and the tormenter and tempter of all humankind. See Isaiah 14:12-20; Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:4-13; D&C 29:36-38; Moses 4: 1-4; Abraham 3:24-28. See also D&C 101:78 ("That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment."); 2 Nephi 2:27 ("[Men] are free to choose liberty and eternal life.., or to choose captivity and death. ..."); 2 Nephi 10:23 ("Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves--to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life."); Msiah 2:21 ("[Men may] live and move and do according to [their] own will. ..."); Alma 12:31 ("[Men are] placed in a state to act according to their wills and pleasures. ..."); Helaman 14:30 ("[Y]e are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves."); D&C 58:28 ("[W]herein [men] are agents unto themselves.").

(137.) See John 14:17 (explaining that the Spirit of Truth is not recognized in the world); John 15:25 (explaining that the Comforter is the Spirit of Truth); Alma 30:53 (explaining that the devil appeared in the form of an angel to Korihor and told him what to teach and do); D&C 129:4-9 (setting forth the test to discern false from true angelic messengers). Revelations can also come by divine voice, by angelic messengers, by visions, and by dreams.

(138.) D&C 9:7-8 (explaining that revelation is denied when one takes no thought but to ask God, and that revelation is given when one studies it and then asks God); D&C 88:118 (instructing to seek learning by study and by faith); D&C 8:2 (explaining that God reveals to heart and mind); Matthew 22:37 (setting forth the first commandment which is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind).

(139.) 2 Nephi 2:ll, 14-16. As the great Book of Mormon prophet leader Lehi taught his sons:

      For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.
   If not so ... righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither
   wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.
   Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore,
   if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no
   life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor
   misery, neither sense nor insensibility.


      [T]here is a God, and he hath created all things, both the
   heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things
   to act and things to be acted upon.

      And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after
   he had created our first parents, and.., all things which are
   created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the
   forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being
   sweet and the other bitter.

      Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for
   himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should
   be that he was enticed by the one or the other.


(140.) 2 Nephi 9:26 (promising that atonement delivers from death); 2 Nephi 10:25 (promising that people are redeemed from death by resurrection). See generally supra, notes 100-12 and accompanying text.

(141.) D&C 14:7 (explaining that eternal life is the greatest gift of God); D&C 121:8 (explaining that the Lord descended below all; if His followers endure they shall be exalted); D&C 45:8 (promising that believers obtain eternal life); D&C 51:19 (promising that faithful inherit eternal life); D&C 133:62 (promising eternal life to repentant).

(142.) John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."). See also Romans 5:10 ("For if while were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life"); 1 Corinthians 6:20 ("You were bought with a price."); Revelation 5:9 ("By [his] blood [Christ] didst ranson men for God."); 1 John 1:7 ("The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."); 2 Nephi 2:6-7 ("[R]edemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah ... [who] offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. ..."); Mosiah 18:2 ("[T]he resurrection of the dead, and the redemption of the people ... [comes] through the power, and sufferings, and death of Christ; and his resurrection and ascension into heaven."); Helaman 5:9 ("IT]here is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ ... he cometh to redeem the world."); D&C 19:1, 16 (explaining that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of the World, who suffered so that we might not suffer if we will but repent); D&C 49:5 ("I am God, and have sent mine Only Begotten Son into the world for the redemption of the world. ...").

(143.) See, e.g., Job 31:15 ("Did not he who made in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb?"); Jeremiah 1:5 ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."); Psalms 22:9-10 ("Yet thou art he who took me from the womb; thou didst keep me safe upon my mother's breasts. Upon thee was I cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me thou hast been my God."); Isaiah 44:2 ("Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jesh'urun whom I have chosen."); Isaiah 44:24 ("Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: 'I am the Lord, who made all things, who stretched out the heavens alone, who spread out the earth--Who was with me ... ?"); Genesis 25:22 ("The children [Jacob and Esau] struggled together within her....").

(144.) See, e.g., Psalms 127:3 ("Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward."); Psalms 127:5 ("Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."); Genesis 4:1 (explaining that Eve recognized that her newborn son was "from the LORD"); Deuteronomy 33:24 ("And of Asher he said, 'Blessed above sons be Asher; let him be the favorite of his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil.'").

(145.) See, e.g., Leviticus 18:21; 20: 1-5; Deuteronomy 12:31; 18:10 ("There shall not be found among any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer...."); Deuteronomy 19:10; 2 Kings 17:17 ("And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings...."); Proverbs 6:17; Isaiah 1:15; Jeremiah 22:17; Jeremiah 7:3134 ("And they have built the high place of To'pheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnon, to burn their sons and daughters in the fire; which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind."); Ezekiel 16:20-21, 36-38; 20:31 ("Were your harlotries so small a matter that you slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them?").

(146.) Deuteronomy 14:29; 24:17-21; 26:12-13.

   And thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God, thou, and thy son,
   and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the
   Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the
   fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which
   the LORD thy God hath chosen to place his name there.

Deuteronomy 14:11 (emphasis added). See also Job 29:17-18 ("If I withheld anything that the poor desired, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail, or have eaten my morsel alone, and the fatherless has not eaten of it (for from his youth I reared him as a father, and from his mother's womb I guided him."),

   If I have seen any one perish for lack of clothing, or a poor man
   without covering; if his loins have not blessed me, and if he was
   not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; if I have raised my hand
   against the fatherless, because I saw help in the gate; then let my
   shoulder blade fall from my shoulder, and let my arm be broken from
   its socket.

Job 31:16-23.

(147.) Galatians 1:15 ("But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through His grace....").

   And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in
   her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she
   exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and
   blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that
   the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice
   of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for

Luke 1:42.

(148.) Matthew 2:13 ("An angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, 'Rise, take the young child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.'"); John 4:49-54 ("The official said to him, 'Sir, come down before my child dies.' Jesus said to him, 'Go; your son will live.' The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way.").

(149.) See Matthew 18:1-6:

   At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, '"'Who is the
   greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he
   put him in the midst of them, and said, "Truly, I say to you,
   unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the
   kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is
   greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child
   in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones
   who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a
   great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the
   depth of the sea."


   Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on
   them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people; but Jesus said,
   "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such
   belongs the kingdom of heaven." And he laid his hands on them and
   went away.

Matthew 19:13-15; James 1:27 ("Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.").

(150.) Ephesians 5:11.

(151.) Galatians 5:19-20 (condemning fornication, impurity, indecency, idol-worship, sorcery [pharmakeia]); see also Romans 1:31 ("foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless").

(152.) WARDLE & WOOD, supra note 5, at 28 (citing JOHN NOONAN, An Almost Absolute Value in History, in THE MORALITY OF ABORTION: LEGAL AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES 6, 8-9 (1970)). For example, Ancient Epitome of Canon XCI declares: "Whoever gives or receives medicine to produce abortion is a homicide." Likewise, Canon XXI of Ancyra, and Canon II of St. Basil provide: "She who purposely destroys the foetus, shall suffer the punishment of murder. And we pay no attention to the

subtile distinction as to whether the foetus was formed or unformed. And by this not only is justice satisfied for the child that should have been born, but also for her who prepared for herself the snares, since the women very often die who make such experiments." The Sixth Ecumenical Council, in THE SEVEN ECUMENICAL COUNCILS 627,785 (Philip Schaff ed., 1900).

(153.) WARDLE & WOOD, supra note 5, at 28.

(154.) Didache 2:2.

(155.) U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, PEW FORUM ON RELIGION AND PUBLIC LIFE app. 2 at 144 (2008), available at pdf. Interestingly, there were two categories of "Mormons" and "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" and those who identified under the former label was about one percent more liberal than those identified under the latter more formal/proper institutional church label. Id. See also Religious Groups' Official Positions on Abortion, PEW FORUM ON RELIGION AND PUBLIC LIFE (Jan. 16, 2013), (setting forth an overview of the official church positions on abortion of various religious denominations).

(156.) U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, supra note 155, at 144.

(157.) Id.

(158.) Id.

(159.) Id.

(160.) Blake, supra note 23, at 542-47. The decrease in disapproval rates was greater for Catholics than it was for the non-Catholics because the former started with higher disapproval levels. Id. Even a majority of the more permissive non-Catholics, however, rejected abortion-on-demand, and the more

educated Protestant women did "not share an equally positive attitude toward elective abortion" as the men. Id. at 544.

(161.) Id. at 546-47 (noting further that in one faith community "the amount of disapproval... decreased rapidly since the beginning of the [1960s]").

(162.) Lyman A. Kellstedt, Abortion and the Political Process, in ABORTION: A CHRISTIAN UNDERSTANDING AND RESPONSE 195,212 (James K. Hoffmeier ed., 1987).

(163.) Utah Population Now 60% Mormon, CHICAGO TRIBUNE (Nov. 23, 2007), http://articles.

(164.) For driving directions from Brigham Young University to Utah Valley University, see GOOGLE MAPS, (follow the "Get Directions" hyperlink; then search "A" for "BYU" and search "B" for "UVU"; then follow "Get Directions" hyperlink). The shortest distance is 4.59 miles by road.

(165.) There are twenty-two Young Single Adult Stakes with nearly 300 wards throughout Provo and Orem. On average, each ward has about 130-160 members during the school year, meaning there are in between 39,000 and 48,000 single Mormons between eighteen and thirty in the area. See Provo Utah Temple, LDSCHURCHTEMPLES.COM, (last visited Feb. 16, 2013) (listing stakes in the Provo Area); see also LDS Maps, THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, road&layers=selected&id=ward.ysa:1897209 (last visited Mar. 16, 2013) (setting forth the meeting location for the 263rd Young Single Adult ward in Provo; some ward numbers were reserved for future expansion); see also LDS Maps, THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, (last visited Mar. 16, 2013) (setting forth the meeting location for the 41st Young Single Adult Ward in Orem).

(166.) Interview with Carrie Galloway, Director, Planned Parenthood Ass'n of Utah, in Provo, Utah (Jan. 23, 2012).

(167.) 450 U.S. 398 (1981). "Matheson" was the name of the Utah Democratic governor who, working with a Republican Utah Attorney General, David Wilkinson, successfully defended the parental consent law. Id. Utah is ranked twenty-one by AUL in its protection of life. AUL's Life List: 2012 Rankings, AMERICANS UNITED FOR LIFE, (last visited Mar. 16, 2013).

(168.) See Harry Reid on Abortion, ON THE ISSUES, at Harry_Reid_Abortion.htm (last updated Dec. 22, 2012). Reid reportedly supported the NARAL-preferred position on only three of eleven specific federal legislative abortion proposals.

(169.) Id. Reid reportedly voted yes on expanding federally-funded embryonic stem-cell research, signed a letter to that effect to President Bush, and expressed opposition to prohibiting human embryonic stem-cell research. Id.

(170.) See, e.g., Manlio A. Goetzl, Romney, Kennedy Debate, THE HARVARD CRIMSON, Oct. 26, 1994,"'I believe abortion should be made safe and legal in the U.S.,' Romney said. 'My personal beliefs should not be brought into this campaign.' Kennedy dismissed his opponent's comment and retorted, 'I am prochoice, my opponent is multiple choice.'").

(171.) Mitt Romney's highly visible campaign for the GOP nomination for the Presidency last year and the effort to make his religious beliefs an issue in the election have put a spotlight on some LDS positions on controversial issues. Romney's apparent changing of positions on some issues compounds the interest and obscures the subject. (I say 'apparent' because while it is clear and he candidly admits that his position on legalized abortion has changed, in other cases it seems to me that his positions reflects not so much changes as drawing fine, lawyer-like, nuanced distinctions between subtly different situations or issues; but those fine distinctions are far too nuanced to be appreciated in the bluntinstrument, warfare-environment of a political campaign for the presidency). See, e.g., Mitt Romney, OpEd., Why I Vetoed the Contraception Bill, BOSTON GLOBE, July 26, 2005, 1/, stating the following:

   Signing such a measure into law would violate the promise I made to
   the citizens of Massachusetts when I ran for governor. I pledged
   that I would not change our abortion laws either to restrict
   abortion or to facilitate it.... I understand that my views on laws

   abortion set me in the minority in our Commonwealth. I am prolife.
   I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of
   incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people
   of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect
   that view. But while the nation remains so divided over abortion, I
   believe that the states, through the democratic process, should
   determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by
   judicial mandate.

(172.) Embryonic Stem-cell Research, CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, (last visited Mar. 16, 2013). The substance of this has remained constant for at least a decade, since the subject was first addressed, though the expression and details have mildly modified:

   While the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
   have not taken a position at this time on the newly emerging field
   of stem cell research, it merits cautious scrutiny. The proclaimed
   potential to provide cures or treatments for many serious diseases
   needs careful and continuing study by conscientious, qualified
   investigators. As with any emerging new technology, there are
   concerns that must be addressed. Scientific and religious
   viewpoints both demand that strict moral and ethical guidelines be

Statement Regarding Stem Cell Research, LDS TODAY (Aug. 10, 2001), archive/news/stemcellstmt.htm. Note the emphasis in the original statement on the novelty of the subject, and the concerns associated with new technology, the positive potentials, the need for "cautious" evaluation, and for "strict moral and ethical guidelines." Id.

(173.) For example, the official position may suggest either that the Lord has a position but that He has not yet revealed His will on this matter (perhaps because humankind are not ready to receive it), or that He has revealed His will but in the current context the issue does not matter to Him. It could suggest that the destruction of a living pre-natal, early-stage human embryo in the rational, scientifically approved process of searching for cures that might save human lives is morally distinguishable from the heinous act of aborting a living human embryo for the personal or social convenience of a person who engaged in voluntary sexual intercourse. Or it might suggest that the status of the pre-embryo and embryo in the early stages in which embryonic stem-cell research or therapy is currently done has a lesser moral status or claim to absolute protection than a more developed embryo or fetus. Or it may suggest that there are critical ambiguities--perhaps including scientific, factual, clinical, ethical, and theological uncertainties at the present time concerning embryonic stem cell research--which make issuing a definitive statement on the moral or legal issue premature. The Mormon concept of revelation is one that requires a great deal of work and effort on the part of the recipient to use the best, full efforts of reason, research, examination, study, discussion, experience, and logic. It also requires each individual then taking the best answer he or she can come up with to the Lord for His revealed response, of confirmation, repudiation, or neither, and the current "neutral" position might suggest that this generation has not yet done enough to receive the revealed answer. Or perhaps it simply is not yet time, the groundwork has not adequately been laid, or the searching has not yet been sufficient or complete. Or it could indicate that the variety of circumstances, contexts, and situations covered in the broad generic category of embryonic stem cell research are so disparate and diverse that a statement would not be helpful, or perhaps even problematic (incapable of not being misunderstood) in the long view.

(174.) Compare Joseph Stanford, Letters: Mormon Bioethics, FIRST THINGS, Oct. 2005, with Courtney S. Campbell, Source or Resource? Human Embryo Research as an Ethical Issue, in CLONING AND THE FUTURE OF HUMAN EMBRYO RESEARCH 34 (Paul Lauritzen ed., 2001). See also Courtney S. Campbell, Religious Ethics and Active Euthanasia in a Pluralistic Society, 2 KENNEDY INST. OF ETHICS J.

253, 253 (Sept.1992); Campbell, supra note 124, at 1864; Bill Broadway, Faith is a Force on Both Sides of Stem Cell Debate, WASH. POST, Aug. 4, 2001, at B09, available at showthread.php?t=13808.

(175.) Drew Clark, The Mormon Stem-Cell Choir, SLATE.COM (Aug. 3, 2001), http ://

(176.) Columbia University Historian Richard Bushman, who is a Mormon, wrote:

   It is perfectly clear that all Mormons live by varying values and
   outlooks, not all of them religious. When we sell cars, we act like
   most used car salesmen, for they are our teachers in selling
   automobiles.... Similarly, historians who are Mormons write history
   as they were taught in graduate school rather than as Mormons. The
   secular, liberal, establishmentarian, status-seeking, decent,
   tolerant values of the university govern us at the typewriter,
   however devoted we may be as home teachers. Indeed this viewpoint
   probably controls our thinking far more than our faith. The
   secular, liberal outlook is the one we instinctively think of as
   objective, obvious, and natural, even though when we stop to think
   about it we know it is as much a set of biases as any other

Richard L. Bushman, Faithful History, 4 DIALOGUE: J. OF MORMON THOUGHT 11, 16 (1969).

(177.) See About Us, CENTER FOR PUBLIC HEALTH AND COMMUNITY GENOMICS, (last visited Mar. 16, 2013).

   The Center for Public Health and Community Genomics, directed by
   Toby Citrin, JD and co-directed by Sharon Kardia, PhD, was formed
   in September 2001 through a cooperative agreement between the
   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of
   Schools of Public Health. The Center for Public Health and
   Community Genomics also receives funding from the National
   Institutes of Health. The Center for Public Health and Community
   Genomics is housed within the University of Michigan School of
   Public Health....


(178.) Presentation of Biotech Sciences and The Saints: Individual Viewpoints of Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints about Stem Cell Research and Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnostics (PGD) (on file with author).

(179.) Id. at 102.

(180.) Id. at 94.

(181.) Id.

(182.) Id. at 95.

(183.) Id.

(184.) Id. at 98.

(185.) Id. at 99.

(186.) Id. at 103.

(187.) See, e.g., Arthur Caplan, The Stem Cell Hype Machine, SCIENCE PROGRESS (Apr. 18, 2011), ("[A]dult stem cells have been used to cure many people while embryonic stem cells have not.").

(188.) Geron To End Embryonic Stem Cell Research (Nat'l Public Radio broadcast Nov. 18, 2011), available at (describing how major ESC research corporation quit ESC research for economic reasons).

(189.) Stem Cell Fraud: A 60 Minutes Investigation (CBS News broadcast Jan. 8, 2012), available at (describing con men who offer false hope offering stem-cell cures in overseas clinics).

(190.) D&C 58:26-27.

(191.) Luke 20:24-25 (King James). Likewise, when brought before Pilate and asked if he was a king (an earthly political sovereign) he responded: "My kingdom is not of this world.:" John 18:36.

(192.) Courtney Campbell, Social Responsibility and LDS Ethics: How Have Mormons Responded to the Moral Dilemmas of Modernity?, SUNSTONE MAG., Autumn 1984, at 11, 14-15, available at

(193.) CARL E. SCHNEIDER, THE PRACTICE OF AUTONOMY: PATIENTS, DOCTORS, AND MEDICAL DECISIONS xv (1998) (describing bioethicists); Carl E. Schneider, Lawyers and Children: Wisdom and Legitimacy in Family Policy, 84 MICH. L. REV. 919, 932-33 (1986) (describing lawyers and judges).

   Hyper-rationalism is essentially the substitution of reason for
   information and analysis. It has two components: first, the belief
   that reason can reliably be used to infer facts where evidence is
   unavailable or incomplete, and second, the practice of interpreting
   facts through a set of artificial analytic categories. The first
   component of hyper-rationalism has three related
   aspects. In its first aspect, it is the assumption that systematic
   evidence is generally superfluous to understanding social problems,
   since the behavior of people and institutions can be logically
   inferred from a general understanding of how people and
   institutions work. In its second aspect, it is the assumption that,
   in the absence of a general understanding of how people and
   institutions work, anecdotal evidence is generally sufficient,
   since the behavior of people and institutions can be logically
   inferred from a few examples of their actual behavior under the
   relevant circumstances. In its third aspect, it is the assumption
   that a description of social reality articulated in one case may be
   taken as demonstrated fact in subsequent cases; it is, in other
   words, the application of stare decisis to evidence about social


(194.) Compare Stanford, supra note 174, at 8, with Campbell, Source or Resource?, supra note 174 at 34, Broadway, supra note 174, Campbell, Religious Ethics and Active Euthanasia in a Pluralistic Society, supra note 174, at 253, Campbell, Mormonism, supra note 124, at 1864, James F. Childress, An Ethical Defense of Federal Funding for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, 2 YALE J. HEALTH POL'Y L. & ETHICS 157, 161 (2001) (Mormon senators support stem cell research), and Clark, supra note 175 (explaining that some Mormons support stem-cell research). See also Richard K. Sherlock, Abortion, Public Morality, and Legal Regulation, in PERSPECTIVES IN MORMON ETHICS, supra note 127, at 227; Lynn D. Wardle, Passive Euthanasia: A Three Dimensional View, in PERSPECTIVES IN MORMON ETHICS, supra note 127, at 285.

(195.) See supra note 37 and accompanying text on the Old Testament and New Testament image of God.

(196.) See JOSEPH SMITH, LECTURES ON FAITH." DELIVERED TO THE SCHOOL OF THE PROPHETS IN KIRTLAND, OHIO FROM 1834-1835, 69 (1985) ("[A] religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation .... ").

(197.) Alma 31:5.

   And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead
   the people to do that which was just--yea, it had had more powerful
   effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything
   else, which had happened unto them--therefore Alma thought it was
   expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.


(198.) Pope John Paul II, Evangelum Vitae [Encyclical Letter on the Value and Inviolability of Human Life] [paragraph] 3 (1995) (condemning "whatever is opposed to life itself, such as ... abortion...."); see also Pope John Paul II, Christifideles Laici [Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the WorM] [paragraph] 38 (1988).

   The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the
   absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental
   expression in the inviolability of human life.... The Church has
   never yielded in the face of all the violations that the right to
   life of every human being has received, and continues to receive,
   both from individuals and from those in authority. The human being
   is entitled to such rights, in every phase of development, from
   conception until natural death; and in every condition, whether
   healthy or sick, whole or handicapped, rich or poor.


(199.) Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Address to the National Prayer Breakfast, Washington, D.C. (Feb. 3, 1994), available at

(200.) See generally Robert P. George & Patrick Lee, The Wrong of Abortion, in CONTEMPORARY DEBATES IN APPLIED ETHICS 13 (Andrew I. Cohen & Christopher Heath Wellman, eds., 2005); Mary Ann Glendon, The Women of Roe v. Wade, FIRST THINGS, June/July 2003, at 14-18; National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Resolution on Abortion (Nov. 7, 1989), available at tdocs/resabort89.shtml; Cardinal George on Pelosi's Abortion Remarks, EWTN (Sept. 5, 2008),; Robert P. George, Obama's Abortion Extremism, PUBLIC DISCOURSE (Oct. 14, 2008), http://www.thepublicdiscourse.corn/2008/10/133.

(201.) Lydia Saad, Americans Still Split Along "Pro-Choice," " Pro-Life" Lines, GALLUP POLITICS (May 23, 2011),

(202.) Rachel Benson Gold & Elizabeth Nash, Troubling Trend: More States Hostile to Abortion Rights as Middle Ground Shrinks, 15 GUTTMACHER POL'Y REV. 14, 14-16 (Winter 2012).

(203.) Id. (citation omitted).

(204.) 2012 Mid-Year Legislative Wrap-Up, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS, available at (last visited Apr. 18, 2013). They also denoted: "At the mid-point of 2012, anti-choice legislators continue to push an extremist agenda, proposing a host of new bills. So far, at least 15 states have enacted around 40 harmful [to abortion-on-demand] laws." Id. at 2.

(205.) Id. at 3.

(206.) Id.

(207.) Id.

(208.) Id. at 5.

(209.) Id. at 4.

(210.) Pope: Gay Marriage, Abortion Threaten Church Values, ASSOCIATED PRESS (Sept. 24, 2011),

(211.) Steven Ertelt, Pope Benedict Calls Christians to Protect Human Life From Abortion, Euthanasia, LIFENEWS.COM (Sept. 20, 2010),

(212.) Id.

(213.) Pope: All Humans Are Called to Stand Up for Life,' ANDALUSIA STAR-NEWS (Jan. 21, 2012),


(215.) The Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech Delivered by Elie Wiesel in Oslo on December 10, 1986, in NIGHT 117-118 (Elie Wiesel ed., Marion Wiesel trans., 2006).

(216.) Id. at 120.

(217.) Data taken from U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity, GUTTMACHER INST. 7-15 (2010); U.S. DEPT. OF COMMERCE, NATIONAL DATA BOOK AND GUIDE TO SOURCES: STATISTICAL ABSTRACT OF THE UNITED STATES, 1985 66-68 (105th ed., 1985); Telephone interview with Christine Loretto, Guttmacher Inst. (data from Stanley Henshaw). See also Rachel K. Jones, Jacqueline E. Darroch, & Stanley K. Henshaw, Patterns in the Socioeconomic Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions in 2000-2001, 34 PERSPECTIVES ON. SEXUAL & REPRO. HEALTH 226, 228 (2002); Stanley K. Henshaw & Kathryn Kost, Trends in the Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions, 1974 to 2004, GUTTMACHER INST. 6, 18-27 (2008); Lawrence B. Finer & Stanley K. Henshaw, Estimates of U.S. Abortion Incidence, 2001-2003, GUTTMACHER INS (2006), available at; R. K. Jones, et al., Abortion in the United States: Incidence and Access to Services, 2005, 40 PERSPECTIVES ON. SEXUAL & REPRO. HEALTH 6-16 (2008); Lilo T. Strauss, et al, Abortion Surveillance--United States, 2001, U.S. CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL, 53(SS09) (2004), available at mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5309a1.htm.

(218.) Rate is per 1,000 women aged fifteen to forty-four.

(219.) Ratio is per 1,000 known pregnancies (known live births plus abortions). Henshaw & Kost, supra note 217, at 6.

(220.) This is the percentage of women having abortions who previously had one or more abortion(s).

(221.) All information about the United States was gathered at The 2012 Statistical Abstract: Earlier Editions, UNITED STATES CENSUS BUREAU, (last visited Apr. 22, 2013).

(222.) Information for Utah from 1973-1985 was gathered from UNITED STATES CENSUS BUREAU; Utah information from 1990-2008 was gathered from UTAH DEP'T OF HEALTH, UTAH'S VITAL STATISTICS: ABORTIONS, at S-3 (2010), available at 10a_112011.pdf.

(223.) The United States Statistical Abstract ceased reporting the ratio of abortions per 1,000 live births after 2003.

Lynn D. Wardle ([dagger])

([dagger]) Bruce C. Hafen Professor of Law, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University. I grateful to Travis Robertson, Stephanie Christensen, Michael Worley, Chelsea Underwood, and Jennifer Rajah for their valuable research assistance. An earlier version of this Article was presented at the University Faculty for Life Annual Conference at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, on June 1-2, 2012, and this revised version will be published also in LIFE AND LEARNING (forthcoming). A related presentation that stimulated much of the thought and some research for this paper was my Mormon Principles and Policies Regarding Prenatal Human Life, Specifically Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research presented at the University of St. Thomas Law School, Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy "Hot Topics/Cool Talk" on Embryo Research, November 16, 2011. See also Lynn D. Wardle, A View of Mormon Ethics, in THE WORLD OF MORMONISM (R. Sherlock ed., forthcoming). The views expressed herein are mine alone, and I do not purport to speak for any institution, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
COPYRIGHT 2013 Ave Maria School of Law
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2013 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:III. The Organization, History, Doctrine, Theology, and Policies of the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-Day Saints Concerning Elective Abortion H. LDS Church Positions on the Legalization of Elective Abortion through VIII. Conclusion: The Miracles of the Message and Modern Communications, with footnotes, p. 331-366
Author:Wardle, Lynn D.
Publication:Ave Maria Law Review
Date:Mar 22, 2013
Previous Article:Instilling pro-life moral principles in difficult times: the experience of one faith community.
Next Article:Lost in translation: the failure of the international reproductive rights norm.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters