A few years ago, I home taught an older gentleman. His daughter was recently married, and discovered that the baby she was carrying had serious medical issues. The baby was missing the right side of her body, and the doctor told the couple that the baby would be born alive, but live just hours due to so many medical issues. The mother still had months to go in her pregnancy. The doctor was correct. The baby was born with serious problems, the father gave her a name and a blessing in the labor and delivery room, and the baby died after just an hour or so. The couple has gone on to have another healthy baby.
I find myself hearing of a similar situation with a distant relative. Ultrasounds show the baby is seriously deformed. I don’t have all the medical information, but from what I understand the situation is similar, the child is expected to live just hours after birth, and this is the first child for this couple too, who have had a difficult time becoming pregnant. I believe the mother is about 3 months along in her pregnancy, so she still has a considerable time to go.
It is pretty well-known that the LDS stance on abortion is that it is acceptable “when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy”, as well as when pregnancy ” is the result of incest or rape.” In preparing for this post, I checked the church policy found on LDS.org, and was surprised to find that abortion is acceptable “when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.” The official statement is highlighted in bold below.
Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.
I’m actually encouraged by the church’s stance on this issue, as I wasn’t aware of this exception. I’m sure this would be a heart-wrenching decision to make. I wonder if it would be easier at 3-4 months of pregnancy, rather than waiting for the birth at 9 months.
Is this in line with other evangelical, protestant, or Catholic positions? What are your thoughts on this tough issue?
You know what. I left the church and I was really angry for a long time, but over and over again in the last few years they have taken steps that has caused my attitude toward the church to soften. I also did not know about this exception until just today and I think it is wonderful. I see so many Christian Leaders on the extreme religious right screaming hateful words of intolerance. Meanwhile the LDS church tackled the problem of LGBT discrimination in Utah of their own volition. I cannot think of any other Christian sect that has actively pursued legal protections for the LGBT community. They donated to a cause to help feed homeless LGBT youth in Salt Lake City and if I recall correctly, they asked if they could do more. They have FINALLY come out and made faith challenging information available to their members, even if it tests their faith. They aren’t forcing it on them, and they make the argument it does not disprove the truth fullness of the gospel, but it’s there, hidden in plain site on lds.org. What that information signals for me is a renewed value in free agency, a long touted principle of the church, I did not believe was completely honest, while members were kept in the dark. They aren’t now and they can find out for themselves. For me that information was a way out of a life that made me so so unhappy, but I’m not all members, and because of the steps they are taking it helps me respect the free agency of members to not choose to leave or be angry, but to stay and be in a happy in a life which brings them fulfillment, without the requirement of ignorance or intolerance. I was so moved by the Pope earlier this month and today as I have read the words of some of the same leaders I despised I feel at peace.