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Roe v. Wade ends: Latter-day Saint leaders urge 'to protect life and to preserve religious liberty'

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Church Administration Building is pictured in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. Soon after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints updated a webpage on the topic of abortion.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Church Administration Building is pictured in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. Soon after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints updated a webpage on the topic of abortion. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Soon after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints updated a webpage on the topic of abortion.

The updated page on the church's Newsroom website says that as the process unfolds in each state, it is appropriate for church members to join efforts to protect life.

The Supreme Court ruled there is no constitutional right to an abortion, which means that abortion policy now is a matter to be handled by each individual state.

"The church's position on this matter remains unchanged," the webpage now says. "As states work to enact laws related to abortion, church members may appropriately choose to participate in efforts to protect life and to preserve religious liberty."

The abortion page in the Gospel Topics section of its main website remains the same at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

Both pages say the church opposes elective abortion and that church members should not "submit to, perform, encourage, pay for or arrange for an abortion." Those who encourage an abortion may be subject to church discipline.

The church's prophet-leader, President Russell M. Nelson called abortion a war on the unborn when he clearly reiterated the church's position in 2008, prior to becoming president of the church.

"This war called abortion is a war on the defenseless and the voiceless. It is a war on the unborn. This war is being waged globally," he said while a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during an international general conference of the church.

After he became the church president in 2018, he told the biographer of Pope Francis in an interview that Roe v. Wade appeared to be settled law, "but nonetheless we teach our people to have respect for human life from conception to the grave. It's a sacred matter and people offend the Creator when they interfere with his plans, so we strongly support the sacredness of the body."

"As a doctor, I know that little fetus has life," added President Nelson, who was a pioneering heart surgeon before becoming an apostle. "About two weeks after conception, a little heart starts to beat. For us, that's a very sacred thought."

The church's General Handbook includes a section about "the sin of abortion." Church leaders also have called abortion "a moral blot."

The church's position on abortion has been firm for decades.

It encourages adoption and does allow for the possibility of abortion if:

  • Pregnancy results from rape or incest, or
  • A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy, or
  • A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.

But those situations don't automatically justify abortion, church leaders say.

"Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons involved have consulted with their local church leaders and feel through personal prayer that their decision is correct," the Newsroom webpage says.

The church's Gospel Topics page on abortion includes additional resources, including scriptures, more talks by church leaders, links to church magazine articles and related topics.

It also provides a link for adoption consultations and referrals.

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Tad Walch
Tad Walch covers The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has filed news stories from five continents and reported from the Olympics, the NBA Finals and the Vatican. Tad grew up in Massachusetts and Washington state, loves the Boston Red Sox and coaches fastpitch softball.

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