The Planned Parenthood scandal has really gotten under my skin. I have tried to not comment on it, or engage with others who are commenting and posting about it, either. When I have heard or seen the undercover video clips, I have become physically ill, to the point of wanting to vomit, and I feel my spirit sorrowing in a way I cannot describe in words, and have only felt when we lost our two babies. The Spirit has been telling me too, time and time again, “Do not click that link. Do not read that story.”
Tonight however, a friend shared an article to her Facebook timeline, which then showed up on my newsfeed — I made the mistake of clicking thru to the article. I’m not going to link to it, but the author claimed to be a temple recommend holding, worthy member of the Church, who supports Planned Parenthood — she doubled down on her thesis a few times; by the end her tone was angry and judgmental of those who sustain the Church’s beliefs on abortion. Her arguments were also weak, and easily corrected with scripture and the words of the prophets as well, but I felt like it was no use trying to share them, as she was committed to her position. And really, why would she care what I, a total stranger, had to say? It does no good to argue with strangers online either.
In the end, the principle of “Thou shalt not kill,” transcends religious creeds, boundaries and the excuses societies parade as truths. I am struggling with why people, especially, Mormons are not getting that. Thou shalt not kill, or do anything like unto it (Doctrine & Covenants 59: 6).
A friend, who understands my sensitivities on this subject sent me a passage from an article titled, “Weightier Matters,” written for the January 2001 Ensign by Elder Dallin H. Oaks. Elder Oaks writes,
“The slogan or sound bite “pro-choice” has had an almost magical effect in justifying abortion and in neutralizing opposition to it.
Pro-choice slogans have been particularly seductive to Latter-day Saints because we know that moral agency, which can be described as the power of choice, is a fundamental necessity in the gospel plan. All Latter-day Saints are pro-choice according to that theological definition. But being pro-choice on the need for moral agency does not end the matter for us. Choice is a method, not the ultimate goal. We are accountable for our choices, and only righteous choices will move us toward our eternal goals.
In this effort, Latter-day Saints follow the teachings of the prophets. On this subject our prophetic guidance is clear. The Lord commanded, “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6). 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.
In today’s world we are not true to our teachings if we are merely pro-choice. We must stand up for the right choice. Those who persist in refusing to think beyond slogans and sound bites like pro-choice wander from the goals they pretend to espouse and wind up giving their support to results they might not support if those results were presented without disguise.
For example, consider the uses some have made of the possible exceptions to our firm teachings against abortion. Our leaders have taught that the only possible exceptions are when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or when a competent physician has determined that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy or that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these exceptions do not justify abortion automatically. Because abortion is a most serious matter, we are counseled that it should be considered only after the persons responsible have consulted with their bishops and received divine confirmation through prayer.
Some Latter-day Saints say they deplore abortion, but they give these exceptional circumstances as a basis for their pro-choice position that the law should allow abortion on demand in all circumstances. Such persons should face the reality that the circumstances described in these three exceptions are extremely rare. For example, conception by incest or rape—the circumstance most commonly cited by those who use exceptions to argue for abortion on demand—is involved in only a tiny minority of abortions. More than 95 percent of the millions of abortions performed each year extinguish the life of a fetus conceived by consensual relations. Thus the effect in over 95 percent of abortions is not to vindicate choice but to avoid its consequences. Using arguments of “choice” to try to justify altering the consequences of choice is a classic case of omitting what the Savior called “the weightier matters of the law.”
There is a lot more I could say, more prophets and apostles I could quote. More scriptures I could share on this subject. I won’t though. As Latter-day Saints we should understand the value of life, all lives. We understand that the power to create life, allows us to partner with God, to bring His spirit children, our brothers and sisters, to earth for their mortal experience — an experience they are entitled to have. No one has the right to take that away from another person. Society needs to do better. We need to reach out and minister to these women who end up in a Planned Parenthood office. As a missionary I sat with many women who had been forced by the Bulgarian government, as a form of birth control, to have abortions. Their anguish and sorrow for their lost children was tangible and real. Even after having counseled with priesthood leaders and having been baptized, they still felt that anguish. As I mentioned, I understand the deepness of sorrow that the loss of one’s child brings.
We are taught and promised that as we obey God’s commandments we will be truly happy, prosper, and have the grace of God attend us. It’s very clear what our position should be on this issue — it’s not a secular choice, it is a matter of choosing to put the Lord and His laws first. As Latter-day Saints we need to share the truths of the gospel with everyone we come into contact with — so they know there are other options besides abortion. A return to the Lord’s standards of chastity, morality, and family structure would be the first step in saving these women from the awful “choice” of aborting their babies. Elevating our actions to reflect the love of our Savior for these women, will also help toward healing and saving lives.