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Rape and Abortion - Changing with the Times?

Spencer W. Kimball said:
"In the case of rape, if a woman becomes pregnant, she MUST NOT have an abortion. If she does she commits a greater sin than the one who raped her" (1975 film, "Very Much Alive").

The 1987 Relief Society Manual said on page 290:
"If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a
field, because a man's house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought
surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it
has come to light."

"... Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come. ... he that killeth shall die." (D&C

"Abortion is not defined as murder"
--1989 General Handbook of Instructions from the First Presidency, pg. 10-3

"a person may repent and be forgiven for the sin of abortion"
--General Handbook of Instructions, pg. 11-4

Have we become so anxious to be "politically correct", to love and forgive grave sins in recent times only because they are not perceived by the world population at large as morally wrong? I am surprised by the diverse counsel and mixed messages found on this issue in Church history. I am also shocked to consider that a young woman could commit such a serious sin, and be admitted into full fellowship and engage in Temple activity in such a short period of time (I'm guessing a year or less). Bloodshed was the very thing that disqualified David FOR LIFE from being able to participate in the erection, dedication, or practices of the Temple, and necessitated that his Son, King Solomon, instead be the one to perform this important task.

Please try to keep so-called "feminist" and political banter to a minimum here, I'm interested in primarily a doctrinal and historical discussion on this subject.


Anonymous said...

I believe that yes we have become so adverse to speaking how we feel... and bend over backwards to accept the "political correctness" that is so rampant.

I am VERY anti-abortion... even in the case of rape. It is NOT the child's fault that he or she was conceived that way. That child deserves a happy life. If the birth mother does not wish to keep a child that resulted from rape...then she needs to give it up for adoption

JKS said...

Where is the proof that a spirit of an aborted fetus doesn't get to go to a different body?
I don't believe that an embryo or fetus is the same as a baby. It has the potential to be a baby.
Abortion is not the same as murder. So therefore it isn't the same seriousness of sin.
As for abortion in case of rape, no one has the right to steal my eggs from me and create a baby without my consent. Procreation and parenthood is a very serious privelege and responsibility.
I have had children and pregnancy and delivery is incredibly difficult and has serious conseqences. I would not choose to add the difficulties of a pregnancy on top of the trauma of a rape.

Jeff said...

jks, I asked for doctrinal discussion, so I would like to ask you to qualify your objection. The prophet said "In the case of rape, if a woman becomes pregnant, she MUST NOT have an abortion. If she does she commits a greater sin than the one who raped her" so if you are raped, you feel that you are licensed to do something even more sinful?

Who said they are your eggs, anyway? Don't they more likely belong to God?

J. Stapley said...

Sorry dude. Have you ever wondered if they were just wrong. Sort of like the justifications for the priesthood ban, contraception and a million other cultural artifacts?

The Church no longer views it as a sin. I think you have a hard time arguing that it is when they say it is not.

mellancollyeyes said...

Perhaps doctrine has been altered slightly due to scientific advancments. We understand a lot more now the implications of the mother's health and emotional well-being than we did back when these first statements were issued. A mother's mental health (stress, anxiety about the pregnancy, etc) now shows up in studies to be an important factor on the child's mental capacity and well-being once born. Extreme stress for the mother has shown, in some studies, to cause learning disabilities, ADD, ADHD, personality disorders, etc. And of course, the Church does allow abortions in the event of maternal health-problems, when it's discussed with the bishop and whatnot. So perhaps the Church's stance has modified slightly in the realm of new scientific discoveries of the effect of the mother's stress on the child and the mother's emotional well-being. It could be very upsetting for some rape victim's to carry that child to term...maybe the church has taken "maternal health problems" to encompass mental health problems as that area of science and medicine has also advanced.

Just an idea...I really have no idea why the church has modified its position. There is always the possibility of new revelation, as well? Who knows?

Jeff said...

So Doctrine can change to accomodate popular opinion. Hmm. That really makes out a case for us being politically active and being prominent in our communities, perhaps we can influence that opinion in order to steer doctrine the way we want it to go. Wait, I thought God was supposed to be in charge of that. :) Scientific discovery? So how long until evolution becomes a doctrine?

I'm being rhetorical here, but I think the purest Mormon direction is to accept Truth and reject Falsehoods, no matter where either one comes from. If science is right, it should be embraced. If it is wrong, it needs to be rejected. Blind faith in either direction is not enough.

Not a sin? That abortion is not even a sin, is a pretty strong statement. I am fairly certain that at the very least it is considered a sin by the majority of our Church leaders, whether a big sin or not is another question.

The fact that we cannot pinpoint a time when the spirit is in the body makes me feel incredibly creeped out by the idea that some people would think this is alright.

There's an old Jewish story that says Adam told the woman that if she even touched the bark of the tree she would become hurt or cursed by it. She was near the tree, and the Serpent caused her to startle and she touched it on accident. Because nothing happened, the Serpent said Look, Adam has deceived you. The tree is harmless. And because of this she did partake.

The people who pass down this story consider the fall a "bad" thing, so treating it from that perspective: Setting an artificial boundary line created a slippery slope, so that when the line was crossed, and no ill consequence seen, it led to the sin itself.

When we don't even know where the line is, however, why are we prodding near it? Is it okay to abort a baby at the point in time when it could be delivered prematurely and perhaps live? Is it okay to abort a 2 year old because you decide you don't want to cope with the pain since their father ran out on you when they were 1? Is it okay to kill a 12 year old because since they do not have the ability to reproduce yet they are not scientifically classified as "life"?

I'm sticking to my guns: The softening of the language of abortion is only to appease the women who have chosen this route and let them feel like they have some hope for salvation without paying the consequences of this evil act.

Roy W. Wright said...

The fact that we cannot pinpoint a time when the spirit is in the body makes me feel incredibly creeped out by the idea that some people would think this is alright.

This is the crux of the matter, Jeff. I don't personally believe that the spirit takes possession of the body until at least the moment of birth (see 3 Nephi 1:13 -- "on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world"). However, I am by no means positive that this belief is sound. No one is. So to have an abortion for any reason other than risk to the mother (and then only after seeking heavenly guidance) is a potential depravity.

That being said, I can somewhat understand those who believe that "life begins" at birth, or in the second or third trimester, or whatever, and therefore justify all early abortions. Their belief is groundless and dangerous, but at least it's consistent. What I can't comprehend is the position that abortion is akin to murder unless the mother-to-be was raped. The cause of conception has no bearing on the nature of abortion.

Similarly, there are many members of the Church who would never condone an abortion at any stage of pregnancy but who nevertheless use birth control pills, which can prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus, thereby consigning embryos (or pre-embryos by the current definition) to destruction. To be blunt, that is hypocrisy.

Mary J said...

The church views abortion as a sin, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother may die, or when there are very serious problems with the potential child. I think they may have changed their views partly because of some more recent things that have come to light on the very lasting effects of rape. People that have been raped are affected physically, mentally and emotionally.

I agree that it's not the child's fault, but if that child is being born as a reslut of rape, that's not a very good thing to carry with you through life. I don't know what I would do if I were raped and it resulted in pregnancy, but I know I probably would give the child up for adoption if I did keep it. Chances are that child would find out at some point, that s/he was a product of a violent crime, and that could lead that child to have ver serious emotional and mental problems as well.

I'd also like to point out that the Church believes the fall to have been a transgression, not a sin. The difference being that in order to fulfill God's first commandment, "be fruitful and multiply" they had to break the second. They had to make that choice.

I also think that the church is very strongly (even more than before) against later term abortions. Probably because of what Roy says, no one is really sure when the spirit is there.

I'd also like to say that alot of birth control prevents the egg from even being fertilized in the first place.

Roy W. Wright said...

Yes, that is its main function, of course, but standard birth control pills will also stop fertilized eggs from implanting. Since learning this I have had a hard time understanding how anyone could use them in good conscience. I only hope it's out of ignorance.

As to the possible emotional effects of rape, I don't see how they could possibly be used to justify abortion, if you agree that abortion is murderous or at least highly questionable. From the mother's perspective, what consolation would an abortion be? And to be honest, I don't really sympathize with the idea of the child in question being scarred by the facts of its conception, especially if those facts are found out in or near adulthood. What bearing should the physical cause of a thinking person's life have on its meaningfulness?