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Monday, January 22, 2007

Choose Life, Choose Truth

by Sharon

Today, January 22nd, 2007, marks the 34th anniversary of the legalization of abortion in the United States. Forty million unborn babies have been legally killed in this nation since that tragic ruling.

My father is in favor of legalized abortion, citing the gruesome stories of illegal back-alley abortions he heard about as a young man. I wasn't there, of course, but I've also heard plenty of horror stories about abortions that pre-dated Roe vs. Wade. Nevertheless, I'm compelled to place a higher value on pre-born life than my father does. Perhaps it's because we don't share a common faith in the Giver and Creator of life, the God who bestows value on all life.

Even so, there's an important argument that can be made for the sanctity of human life that doesn't rely on faith issues. But my dad won't talk about it. I think there are a lot of people who don't want to talk about it. Though it's legal, the topic is packed with emotion and conviction -- as it should be, since lives are at stake.

The LDS Church position on abortion is this:
If a child is conceived by those who break the law of chastity, they may be tempted to commit another abominable sin: abortion. There is seldom any excuse for abortion. The only exceptions are when --
    1. Pregnancy has resulted from incest or rape.
    2. The life or health of the woman is in jeopardy in the opinion of competent medical authority; or
    3. The fetus is known, by competent medial authority, to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.
Even in those cases the couple should consider an abortion only after consulting with each other and their bishop or branch president and receiving divine confirmation through prayer. (Gospel Principles, 1992 edition, 251,)

This has not always been so. The previous edition of Gospel Principles (to the one quoted above) said,
If a child is conceived by those who break the law of chastity, they may be tempted to commit another abominable sin -- abortion. There is no excuse for abortion unless the life of the mother is seriously threatened. (1988 edition, 214)

Going back even further, Sarah Pratt, wife of early LDS Apostle Orson Pratt, related a story from when she lived in the Mormon community of Nauvoo, Illinois:
"One day they came both, Joseph [Smith] and [John C.] Bennett, on horseback to my house. Bennett dismounted, Joseph remained outside. Bennett wanted me to return to him a book I had borrowed from him. It was a so-called doctor-book. I had a rapidly growing little family and wanted to inform myself about certain matters in regard to babies, etc., -- this explains my borrowing that book. While giving Bennett his book, I observed that he held something in the left sleeve of his coat. Bennett smiled and said: 'Oh, a little job for Joseph; one of his women is in trouble.' Saying this. [sic] he took the thing out of his left sleeve. It was a pretty long instrument of a kind I had never seen before. It seemed to be of steel and was crooked at one end. I heard afterwards that the operation had been performed; that the woman was very sick, and that Joseph was very much afraid that she might die, but she recovered.

"Bennett was the most intimate friend of Joseph for a time. He boarded with the prophet. He told me once that Joseph had been talking with him about his troubles with Emma, his wife. 'He asked me,' said Bennett, smilingly, 'what he should do to get out of the trouble ?' I said, 'This is very simple. GET A REVELATION that polygamy is right, and all your troubles will be at an end.'" (Dr. W. Wyl, Mormon Portraits: Joseph Smith The Prophet -- His Family and His Friends, 61-62)

I don't mean to suggest that Dr. Bennett's abortions were in any way sanctioned by the LDS Church. Dr. Bennett was a scoundrel by all accounts. Consider the sworn testimony of Joseph Smith's brother, Hyrum:
On the seventeenth day of May, 1842, having been made acquainted with some of the conduct of John C. Bennett, which was given in testimony, under oath…by several females who testified that John C. Bennett endeavored to seduce them, and accomplished his designs by saying it was right; that it was one of the mysteries of God, which was to be revealed when the people was strong enough in faith to bear such mysteries -- that 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, bringing witnesses of his own clan to testify that there were such revelations and such commandments, and that they were of God; also stating that he would be responsible for their sins, if there were any, and that he would give them medicine to produce abortions, provided they should become pregnant." (History of the Church, 5:71)

According to LDS authors Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery, if the women he approached were reluctant to accept Dr. Bennett's proposals, he would tell them he came with Joseph Smith's approval (Mormon Enigma, 111). There exists contradictory testimony from faithful Mormons, and from Bennett himself, that Smith's name was never invoked during these encounters. Whatever the truth of the matter, Hyrum Smith's testimony indicates that Dr. Bennett "accomplished his designs" with at least some of the women he approached (see also fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 311). This raises a question in my mind.

Regardless of the level of responsibility Joseph Smith may have had in any of this -- whatever the official position of the LDS Church may have been -- what sort of society was it that proved to be fertile ground for Dr. Bennett's illicit proposals and his subsequent performance of abortions? What made these women vulnerable to his claims of revelations and commandments if they were contradictory to Church teachings? Perhaps this is where Joseph Smith becomes culpable. I'm uncertain whether he ever taught this principle publicly, or how often he may have taught it privately, but it's well known that in trying to convince Nancy Rigdon to become one of his plural wives, Joseph taught her:
"Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. …That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. …Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire." (see Mormon Enigma, 111, including footnote)

This teaching -- in the context of secretive, illegal polygamous marriage -- opens the door wide for credulity and confusion. I wonder how many unborn babies have died because of it.

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5 Comments:

  • At January 22, 2007 4:16 PM, Blogger rick b said…

    The LDS Church position on abortion is this:

    If a child is conceived by those who break the law of chastity, they may be tempted to commit another abominable sin: abortion. There is seldom any excuse for abortion. The only exceptions are when --

    1. Pregnancy has resulted from incest or rape.
    2. The life or health of the woman is in jeopardy in the opinion of competent medical authority; or
    3. The fetus is known, by competent medial authority, to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.


    I hate abortion, their is zero excuse for one.

    Lets look at the 3 the LDS list.

    1. Give the Child up for adoption. Billy Gram was a baby born from Rape.

    Why should a Child die because of rape or incest. That Child does not ever have to be told how he/she was concived.

    2. The Life of the Mother is at stake, If you trust God and believe in him, then trust He will take care of you, Women Die evey year as a result of Legel Abortion. The mother is told she could Die, so abort the Child, yet what if the Doctor is wrong? A child dies because a doctor is wrong or worse, the mother dies as a result of an abortion going wrong.

    3. So the Doctor says the baby has something wrong and wont live beyond birth, Life and death is in Gods hands, Let the baby be born and nature take it's course. Either the Baby will live or die, I hate abortion with a passion, Zero Excuse for one, not even the three the LDS list or others use is good enough excuse. Rick benidmv

     
  • At January 22, 2007 5:37 PM, Blogger aus blog said…

    My thoughts........




    World estimations of the number of terminations carried out each year is somewhere between 20 and 88 million.(likely 55 to 60)

    Over 3,500 per day / Over 1.3 million per year in America alone.

    50% of that 1.3 million claimed failed birth control was to blame.

    A further 48% had failed to use any birth control at all.

    And 2% had medical reasons.

    That means a staggering 98% of unwanted pregnancies may have been avoided had an effective birth control been used.




    I am a 98% pro-lifer, 2% Pro-choicer, who has no religious convictions at all . I didn't need the fear of god or anything else to come to my decision, just a good sense of what is right and wrong.
    You see we were all once a fetus. Is it beyond the realm of possibilities that when your mother first learned she was carrying you, she may have considered her options? What if she had decided to terminate? Would that have been OK?
    You would not exist, if you have children they would not exist, and your (husband or wife) would be married to someone else. You would have been deprived of all your experiences and memories. In this day and age with terminations being so readily available and so many being carried out, if you make it to full term you can consider yourself lucky.
    Lucky you had a mother that made the choice of life for you.

    Don't you think they all deserve the same basic human right, LIFE?


    At the point of conception is when life began for you. This was the start of your existence. Your own personal big bang. Three weeks after conception heart started to beat. First brain waves recorded at six weeks after conception. Seen sucking thumb at seven weeks after conception.

    Though it pains me to say it , there may always be a need for the 2% medical reasons and such, but that's all.

    So how do we get the other 98% to be responsible...................

    How do we get them to be honest with themselves, about when life begins.

    egg+sperm = human being


    If you still think the point of conception is NOT when life begins, and all you have is a clump of cells and not a living human being.
    Then at least concider this -

    Soon after you were conceived you were no more than a clump of cells.
    This clump of cells was you at your earliest stage, you had plenty of growing to do but this clump of cells was you none the less. Think about it.
    Aren't you glad you were left unhindered to develope further.
    Safe inside your mother's womb until you were born.

    Sadly many prefer an occasional abortion, over using birth control, they have all kinds of reasons, each of them selfish.

    Then there's the christian impossition,and their men in high places.(all a bit talibanish, church and state should never entwine) their stance against birth control has only added to the numbers.

    People should be able to choose to use birth control, to avoid having to make another choice.

    I'd like to see effective birth control made available to all who can't afford it.

    Sanity must provale, abortions should remain available and safe to the 2% and such, and the rest need to have a good look at themselves and get their act together.

    I'd also like to see a 4D ultrasound in every clinnic to provide a more informed choice,
    before going through with something they may regret.



    Want to know how to find humanity-?

    True humanity can only be achieved, by concidering others/ caring about others, as much as, if not more than yourself.

    Until we do we are no more than an uncivilisation,

    with all the uncivilised things that we do...

     
  • At January 22, 2007 9:57 PM, Blogger Ginger said…

    Well said, aus!

    Abortion is always a touchy issue to bring up and I believe it takes a lot of bravery to make oneself vulnerable to attack on that front.

    I just have one thing to add to what aus blog said about effective birth control made available to everyone.

    Birth control is not always effective.

    People think of sex as recreation and forget that it results in procreation. Anyone who has sex (whether in or out of the bonds of marriage) should be prepared for the responsibility of raising a child.

    rick b said: "The Life of the Mother is at stake, If you trust God and believe in him, then trust He will take care of you, Women Die evey year as a result of Legel Abortion. The mother is told she could Die, so abort the Child, yet what if the Doctor is wrong? A child dies because a doctor is wrong or worse, the mother dies as a result of an abortion going wrong."

    I have to disagree. Is the life of the baby worth more than the life of the mother? No. What if the mother has other children already who need her? These children's lives would be turned upside down with the loss of their mother. It would take more than one second opinion and a LOT of prayer for me to make that decision.

    I am a huge advocate for adoption. And I don't mean for couples wanting to adopt. I wish more unwanted babies ended up in loving homes than clinic incinerators.

     
  • At January 23, 2007 12:57 PM, Blogger rick b said…

    I see no Excuse for Killing an unborn Child, Even the excuse of the mothers life. I really believe it is a matter of time till God send down judgment upon this nation for allowing the Murder of millions of unborn Kids.

    I can better understand if a person claims to not believe in God or the Bible, but for a person to say they are ok with Murder of unborn Kids and claim Jesus as Lord, something is wrong.

    Here is on verse in the OT that speaks about Harming a women with Child, the other verses speak about a born Child, but still I would not want to stand before God someday after hearing His words about a millstone, and trying to explain how I could justify the Murder of one of His Kids. People can get mad at me for calling it Murder, but that is what it is, MURDER.

    Exd 21:22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart [from her], and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges [determine].

    Matt 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

    Mark 9:42 And whosoever shall offend one of [these] little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

    Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

    rICK B

     
  • At January 23, 2007 4:12 PM, Blogger jonathan said…

    Sharon,

    Am I reading between the lines, but your quotation by Sarah Pratt seemed to imply that Joseph Smith, JR had consummated his marriage to another women and she had gotten pregnant and that she had an abortion by the hand of Dr. Bennett. The resulting abortion causing her to become ill. An that abortion was administered to protect Joseph from public shame and had nothing to do with any of the modern exceptions that would permit faithful Mormons to consider abortion.

    It seems the more I learn about Joseph Smith, Jr. The more detestable he becomes to me. I thank the Lord for drawing me away from Mormonism years ago and the wonderful things that He has done for me since, mostly for my salvation and the peace and joy I have through Jesus.

     

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