The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the right to life from conception to natural death. Life – particularly human life -- is a gift from God and should be protected by all humans. Yet, many people believe life can be snuffed out for those humans who are inconvenient, imperfect, or unproductive. This includes unborn and newly born babies, disabled people, and aged individuals.
President Joe Biden is celebrated as being the second Roman Catholic to hold the office of President of the United States, and his religion has been emphasized often during the 2020 presidential election and in the weeks since his inauguration. He claims to be a “devout Catholic,” because he attends mass regularly. Yet, his actions are not those of a follower of Christ – Catholic or otherwise.
Early in the campaign, Biden’s Catholic religion became a campaign issue when a Catholic priest in South Carolina denied communion to him over his pro-choice abortion views. Cardinal Raymond Burke said that Biden could not be considered to be a Catholic in “good standing” and should not receive communion. He said that abortion is a mortal sin.
More recently, Roman Catholic bishops condemned Biden’s executive orders in support of abortion. He repealed the Mexico City Policy that blocks taxpayer money from paying for overseas abortion providers, but Biden chose to reverse it. He has also taken steps to restore Title X funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers in the United States and said that he wants to codify Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized killing unborn babies. Here are the statements from the Catholic bishops.
It is grievous that one of President Biden’s first official acts actively promotes the destruction of human lives in developing nations. This Executive Order is antithetical to reason, violates human dignity, and is incompatible with Catholic teaching. We and our brother bishops strongly oppose this action. We urge the President to use his office for good, prioritizing the most vulnerable, including unborn children.
As the largest non-government health care provider in the world, the Catholic Church stands ready to work with him and his administration to promote global women’s health in a manner that furthers integral human development, safeguarding innate human rights and the dignity of every human life, beginning in the womb. To serve our brothers and sisters with respect, it is imperative that care begin with ensuring that the unborn are free from violence, recognizing every person as a child of God. We hope the new administration will work with us to meet these significant needs. [Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop David J. Malloy, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace]
Even though Biden refuses to impose his “religious beliefs on other people,” he stands at odds with the rules of his religion. The section of the Catholic Catechism that discusses abortion states: “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority.”
The Mexico City Policy was instituted in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan. The name comes from the location where it was announced at a United Nation population conference. Democrat Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden all repealed the policy, while Republican Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump reinstituted it. It seems that Democrat presidents support the killing of babies, while Republican presidents do not.
Romans Catholics are not the only church leaders who condemn abortion. In October 2008, President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints defined abortion as a “war on the unborn.” He referenced the well-known commandment “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17; Matthew 5:21; Mosiah 13:21). In our day, the Lord re-established His laws: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:6; emphasis added.)
President Nelson continued, “Man-made rules have now legalized that which has been forbidden by God from the dawn of time! Human reasoning has twisted and transformed absolute truth into sound-bite slogans that promote a practice that is consummately wrong.” He recognized that some situations argue for abortion but do not offer convincing reasons.
Concern for the health of the mother is a vital one. But circumstances in which the termination of pregnancy is necessary to save the life of the mother are very rare, particularly where modern medical care is available. Another concern applies to pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. This tragedy is compounded because an innocent woman’s freedom of choice was denied. In these circumstances, abortion is sometimes considered advisable to preserve the physical and mental health of the mother. Abortions for these reasons are also rare.
Some argue for abortion because of fear that a child may have a congenital malformation. Surely the harmful effects of certain infectious or toxic agents in the first trimester of pregnancy are real, but caution is needed in considering the termination of a pregnancy. Life has great value for all, including those born with disabilities. Furthermore, the outcome may not be as serious as postulated….
To deny life to an individual because of a possible handicap is a very serious matter. Policy consistent with that logic would dictate that those already living with such deficiencies should likewise be terminated. One more step in that tragic train of thought would lead to the conclusion that those who are either infirm or inconvenient should also be eliminated. Such irreverence for life would be totally unthinkable!
After discussing the various argument for abortion, President Nelson said, “Relatively few abortions are performed for the special circumstances to which I have referred.” So, what are the reasons for most abortions? According to President Nelson, “Most abortions are performed on demand to deal with unwanted pregnancies. These abortions are simply a form of birth control.” So, how do we decrease or stop the huge numbers of unborn babies being killed by their own mothers?
Many people argue that “a woman is free to choose what she does with her own body.” All of us – male and female – are free to think, free to plan, and free to do whatever we want to do. However, no one is free to choose the consequences of those actions. Most women are free to choose to have sex or not to have sex. Most women are free to practice birth control or not to practice birth control. However, once conception takes place, the “choice has already been made,” according to President Nelson. “She cannot ‘unchoose.’” He continued:
When the controversies about abortion are debated, “individual right of choice” is invoked as though it were the one supreme virtue. That could only be true if but one person [was] involved. The rights of any one individual do not allow the rights of another individual to be abused. In or out of marriage, abortion is not solely an individual matter. Terminating the life of a developing baby involves two individuals with separate bodies, brains, and hearts. A woman’s choice for her own body does not include the right to deprive her baby of life – and a lifetime of choices that her child would make.
As Latter-day Saints, we should stand up for choice – the right choice – not simply for choice as a method….
President Nelson is not the only Latter-day Saint leader who has counseled against abortion. In April 1885, the First Presidency issued an “Epistle of the First Presidency” that included this statement: “We again take this opportunity of warning the Latter-day Saints against those … practices of foeticide and infanticide.” (Quoted by President Nelson.)
Nearly 100 years later, President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) again set forth the position of the Church regarding abortion. The position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has changed little since this statement was made.
We have repeatedly affirmed the position of the Church in unalterably opposing all abortions, except in two rare instances: When conception is the result of forcible rape and when competent medical counsel indicates that a mother’s health would otherwise be seriously jeopardized.” (Quoted by President Nelson.)
Current Church policy adds two additional exceptions to the two rare instances listed above (conception due to rape and health of the mother). The two added exceptions are conception due to insist or “when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.” It should be noted that “these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion.” Those people who are in a position where they are considering an abortion should counsel “with their local Church leaders and [receive] a confirmation [from God] through earnest prayer.” Abortion (churchofjesuschrist.org)
The seriousness of abortion for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be severe. “Church members who submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions may lose their membership in the Church.” I suppose that members of the Church of Jesus Christ who are also politicians making policies for their state or nation would fall under some of those conditions. Any politicians that support abortion laws could be said to “encourage” abortion. Certainly, any politicians that vote for abortions to be paid by taxpayer money could be said to “pay for.” Abortion (churchofjesuschrist.org)
When it comes to federal funds paying for abortion in this nation or across the world, it appears that every taxpayer is guilty of paying for millions of abortions. Our nation paid a heavy price for the sin of slavery with four years of bitter war and 400,000 lost lives. I wonder what we will pay for the sin of killing unborn babies. President Biden refuses to impose his “religious beliefs on other people,” but he has no qualms about forcing all American taxpayers into a position where they must answer to God for the millions, possibly billions, of unborn babies that have been aborted with federal funds.
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