Comments on "How I lost faith in the pro-life movement"

by Josh Hogan

Libby Anne's long blog featured in the December 8th edition of Times and Reasons about how she lost faith in the "pro-life" movement was very thought-provoking. As a man I cannot speak to the great sacrifices women go through for us as they conceive, bear, and raise children. My wife sacrificed so much more of her time and energy, physical, mental, and emotional, for our children than I did because I went off to school or work each day. I was there for her as much as I could be but I did not feel the pain she did. I did not sacrifice personal time, time with friends, meals, and sleep like she did.  I appreciate my own mother more because of what I saw my wife go through for our children. I admire single mothers who sacrifice their whole lives for their children.  

I also cannot speak to this issue from a legal standpoint. I have no expertise in the law. I can only speak from the perspective of a child and citizen on this issue. As an LDS child I have learned several doctrines that relate to this issue. As an LDS Democrat in Utah I realize this issue is a big reason why many of my faith think the Democratic Party is evil. Therefore, limited though I am, I feel compelled to respond to Libby Anne's blog.  

There are many issues surrounding the issue of abortion. Libby Anne focused on an important one. Is a zygote a baby? I believe in the sanctity of life. Our constitution says one of my rights is to live. Therefore, the question I have is, "When did I start to live?" In other words, as a child did my spirit enter my body when I was conceived or somewhere between conception and birth? I don't know. According to Elder Russell M. Nelson, this question is irrelevant. However, this I know. A temple recorder taught me that Church policy is to record stillborn children on family group sheets, making them a part of our family. However miscarriages, which are natural abortions, are not to be recorded on family group sheets. I take from this policy that a spirit whose body has been aborted will have the opportunity to be born again someday. I also take from this policy that the act of being born has eternal significance, whether you are alive or dead at birth. According to my limited understanding of the political part of this issue there is no argument on this matter. Once life has been born our laws protect it. Therefore, Libby Anne's focus on life before birth is appropriate, and it is where the issue of abortion lies.  

Since I believe in the sanctity of life, and I know that the natural development of a zygote results in life, I certainly do not believe in abortions of convenience. I thought Libby Anne addressed this very well. She points out that most people who get abortions cite reasons of distress.  

The other end of the spectrum is conception. This has to do with sexual behavior. I believe sex is sacred, and is only to be done within marriage between a husband and wife. If we all lived this doctrine abortion would not be an issue.  

This leads to another doctrine that I believe, that people have the freedom to make their own choices. It is part of my religion to teach what I know is true to others. This allows people options to choose. Therefore, I believe that abstinence should be taught as an option in sex education classes.  

I also believe that as part of allowing people to make their own choices they should take the consequences of those choices. However by its nature, as Libby Anne points out, abortion involves many people, each with choices to make. There is not only the mother and the child, but those who care about them, like the father and the mother's other children. Expanding the circle of care, there are grandparents and people who would like to have children. Conversely, there may be people who don't care, like an absentee father or even a rapist. There are many people, each with the freedom to choose, that have stake in a pregnancy.  

There are two other points that are important concerning the freedom of choice. First, I cannot not force my choice on those able to make their own choices. Second, those not able to make choices for themselves need to be represented by someone who can make choices for them. If I am an unborn child I would want people who care about me to do so.  

Because of these two things the Church wisely teaches us to council with those who have an important stake in a pregnancy, including our local Church leaders and the Lord Himself, when considering an abortion. I cannot image the emotional turmoil a woman goes through in this situation. She is literally making a life and death decision. She needs our support, not our condemnation, at this time, regardless of how she became pregnant or which decision she makes.  

Knowing all of this, what sort of laws should there be surrounding abortion? It seems to me that the laws need to support the issues involved in this decision. They need to balance the rights and concerns of both the mother and the child, and take into consideration those that would care for the child. I think the Church's policy and practice does this. Except in the case of forced sex or the threatened health of the mother or the child, the child should be allowed to develop naturally. Once born, if the child is not wanted by the mother, the child should be given to someone who wants her/him. The Church has a system to support this policy.  

Outside the Church I am concerned about the part that the child should be given to someone who wants her/him. The Family Proclamation teaches that children should have parents that love and care for them. What if there are not enough people to care for the children of unwanted pregnancies? I don't think there are. Otherwise we would not have orphanages with so many older children. It also seems to me that adoption laws and practices are very restrictive regarding who can adopt. If I am an unborn, unwanted child what would I want you to do for me? Would I want you to let me be born and take my chances in the government child care system or would I want you to abort me so I could have a chance to be born later to someone who would want me? To me this is the crux of the matter for the unborn child. If I could be loved and cared for in the government child care system I would probably want to be born. If not, then I would probably want to take my chances later.  

Considering this, I think laws could be created that support a woman seeking an abortion. She should declare why this is an unwanted pregnancy. She should be examined to determine her health and the health of the fetus.  We should make sure she understands that if left alone a healthy fetus will become a person with the same rights that she has. We should also determine who might want the baby. Once the mother understands the issues surrounding an abortion she will have the information she needs to choose what is best for her and for her child.  

She may decide to abort due to her own emotional trauma. She may decide to go to term and keep the baby despite risking her own health or even her own life. There are a myriad situations that could happen. I think the laws should simply address the education of the mother regarding the effects of her choice on herself, the unborn child, and those that want the child.  

These principles guide me in my outlook on abortion and address the issues involved therein from conception through birth through the raising of the child, from the mother to the child to others who care about them both. 

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