I am an active, believing temple recommend holding member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I am also a board member of the c4 arm of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah.
These two things are not a contradiction.
As my Church teaches, I am morally opposed to abortion except in the instances of rape, incest, and extreme endangerment to the mother. I will never personally have an abortion except in those cases. Indeed, even if I ever find myself in any of those situations, I’m not sure that abortion would be my choice.
However, I also believe the Constitution of the United States is an inspired document and I believe its authors — our Founding Fathers — got it right when they separated Church and State. Hence neither my or anyone else’s religious beliefs should define policy. I recognize that not all Americans share my moral beliefs on abortion and therefore I follow the Clinton school of though: that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. It’s not government’s job to legislate rarity. That is the job of education and prevention. Both services, incidentally, happen to be provided by Planned Parenthood.
Try a little exercise: have you lived someplace where everyone isn’t majority Mormon? I have. Have you lived someplace where the majority believe differently than you? I have. Have you lived someplace where the majority are not only a different religion but majority non Christian? I haven’t but put yourself in another’s shoes. Do you really want the law of where you live to force the practice of religious beliefs that are different than yours? I don’t. So why should yours or mine or anyone else’s religious beliefs determine what a woman can and can’t do with her body in the eyes of the law? It shouldn’t.
Even though my religious beliefs are otherwise, I will fight with every breath I have for a woman to have the right to make the choice that is best for her. I will fight with every breath I have to make sure that if she chooses abortion, that she has safe options within a reasonable distance of her home.
It is immoral and wrong to place your religious beliefs ahead of another’s when it comes to policy. This is why I proudly stand with Planned Parenthood.
Now, Planned Parenthood is so much more than simply a provider of abortions and defender of a woman’s right to choose. Through my service on the Utah board, I have come to see that Planned Parenthood is rather amazing. Planned Parenthood provides factual, necessary sex education (which has been proven by many studies to be a major, if not the #1, preventer of unwanted pregnancies). PP provides reproductive health services for women AND men, with and without healthcare. PP is a full-service OB-GYN facility. A doctor at a PP facility can administer your annual pap smear, install an IUD, prescribe birth control pills, and treat an STD, among many other services. I often tell people that I wish there was a similar organization to PP that provides general healthcare, not just reproductive services, for those without insurance. PP provides materials and education necessary for safe sex. PP actively advocates for freedom in reproductive health. I can’t even list all of the positive initiatives perpetuated by PP. Spend an hour on their website, and you will leave impressed. Further, a PP staffer will never try to pressure a woman away from adoption or keeping a child and towards an abortion. They will simply educate the woman on her options and support her in whatever choice she makes.
I know several LDS women who have needed abortions in the cases of rape, incest, and endangerment. Two are very close to me. One was my former Young Women’s president, who had to abort her fallopian tube pregnancy. Once upon a time, when I was a politically conservative teenager, I judged her for her choice. I thought it was better that she died then kill a baby (even though that baby wouldn’t have been able to live). I have since repented for this horrific, horrific sin of judgment and I am grateful for Christ’s Atonement that enables me to repent for my past sins. The other woman is a former elected official and dear friend. I am very glad that both of these women are alive and they are only alive because abortion is safe and legal. Without their abortions, they would have died with their pregnancies and never would have never my life.
Why am I writing this post now? Because there are lies being perpetuated on the internet. Heavily-edited videos supposedly shows a senior Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA, the mama organization) staffer negotiating the sell of fetal tissue resulting from abortion. Another video shows bloody footage of abortions. Rule #1 of the internet: don’t believe everything you see and read. The video is a lie. 10 times the staffer states PPFA doesn’t sell fetal tissue for profit, and in all 10 instances, this was edited out of the video. Yes, a woman may legally donate the fetal tissue in some states, and in those states where this is legal, PPFA affiliates follow all laws and established ethical practices and in 0 of those cases does the PPFA affiliate benefit financially from the donation. And yes, the staffers tone is terrible and PPFA has apologized. Utah law states that fetal tissue cannot be donated and must be sent to a state pathologist; therefore, Planned Parenthood Association of Utah does not have a tissue donation program.
We Mormons “believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men.” We Mormons also believe in the importance of agency and freedom. Act with honesty and stop circulating and believing a video based on lies. The creators of this lie are likely to release more videos. Don’t believe them. As a lover of truth, seek out the facts. While I’m on the topic, my dear, fellow Mormons, it’s time for us to fight for real religious freedom. Religious freedom isn’t just taking government out of religious beliefs and practices, it’s also taking religion out of government.
More info from Planned Parenthood of Utah: http://ppacutah.org/response-to-false-video-attacks-on-planned-parenthood/
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I’m ethically opposed to abortion. And I don’t think I should be forced to fund a facility that provides it. Especially when they are making 90 million in annual profit and are being funded 538 million by my tax dollars.
Also, I think it’s odd how they’ve had 197,070 abortions while making 2,486 adoption referrals in 2013.
Another thing, PP claims to have only 3% abortion services. How do they keep that number so low? Well, out of every 1/8 (12%) of women who have an abortion, they (PP) check to make sure she is pregnant. That counts as a service (we’re at 6% now). Then, they give her some protection in the future (2 more services). There you have it, 3%.
One more, abortions make up 36% of PP revenue. I find that rather disturbing.
Each person is accountable for their choices, and a member choosing to facilitate or perform an abortion without having good reason to believe it is morally justified puts their standing before God and the church at risk.
Willful ignorance is no defense. Even if they do not face church discipline, they will still be accounting to God for every single one at the Judgement. The woman will have to account to God for her seeking and getting one, and those facilitating it will likewise have to account for their role in it.
If a woman is raped, she should be reporting it to the police, not covering up for her attacker so he can victimize another woman. I know that is not an easy thing, but it is the right thing. And since the church rarely ever makes any information about who gets disciplined for what public you really have nothing but your own bias to guess at what has happened in the past.
If you have a rational argument as to how facilitating PP in performing abortions doesn’t conflict with what is said in the Church Handbook and that temple recommend question then I’m all ears. I welcome a reasoned discussion, but I have no time for emotional rants. Emotions and desires do not change what is right or wrong, moral or immoral. Wickedness never was happiness, and the cure for such unhappiness is not more wickedness.
As for working at the Olive Garden, the comparison is very poor. There is no moral equivalence between serving wine and facilitating an abortion, there is no church policy saying that serving wine is something that justifies Church discipline. Apples and oranges.
My preference would be that if a woman doesn’t want her child that she put it up for adoption after it is born. If she chooses to do something stupid instead, the consequences are her fault, not mine. Helping people ‘sin safely’ is not something I see the Savior ever doing.
Your analogy of working at Olive Garden selling wine is far off the mark in relation to PP. Comparing wine to the death and in later abortions, dismemberment of unborn babies? Please. Big, VAST difference.
And now that the horror of PP selling fetal body parts and tissues has come to light; really how can you support them? Especially if you are a member of the church.
PP provides a safe means of obtaining an abortion, which many of you have noted is acceptable to the Church under some circumstances. I have a feeling some of you would prefer women seeking abortion be relegated to botched back-alley abortions.
I am ashamed of every single one of you.
Working for PP and justifying what they do is not holding the light of the gospel up to the world, it is facilitating evil and all the spin doctoring in the world doesn’t change that one bit.
Similarly, some reach the pro-choice position by saying we should not legislate morality. Those who take this position should realize that the law of crimes legislates nothing but morality. Should we repeal all laws with a moral basis so that our government will not punish any choices some persons consider immoral? Such an action would wipe out virtually all of the laws against crimes.”
- Dallin H Oaks Ensign January 2001 “Weightier Matters”
Perhaps the greatest benefit of being LDS is having prophets and apostles that lead the Church and communicate God’s will to us. The LDS Church is a collection of people from vastly different backgrounds, situations, and personalities. This diversity is a very good thing, only as we unite in a common goal of “being one” with the will of God.
I cringe when I hear Mormon’s justify a position on abortion such as this when it so obviously goes against the teachings of those who lead the Church and speak for God.
Yes, there is a lot of disinformation about PP and what they do, but just because there is SOME disinformation out there does not excuse us from finding out what really is happening and what abortion really is doing to our society. If we want to know how we should treat abortion, those who perform abortions, and laws regarding abortion, we should be listening to the words of the prophets and apostles.
Since I have had loved ones in the sorts of crises that might make an abortion the lesser of two evils (life of the mother, aftermath of a rape), I try to stay out of the question of whether a particular woman is justified in making such a choice. I can believe such cases exist. Again, I can see common ground with you there.
However, you say that making abortions rare is a job for education, and this is where my discomfort with PP gets stickier. I think PP does much less to make abortions rare than it ought to. You say that counselors at PP provide facts and support a woman no matter what choice she makes. This aggressive non-judgment might be necessary neutrality in a few cases, but often, it’s refusing to call a spade a spade, and it communicates the false idea that whatever a woman chooses is okay. Education isn’t just about providing facts, it’s about placing them in a moral context. We aren’t morally neutral when we teach about genocides and slavery in history classes; why do we buy the idea that we should be neutral when we teach about abortion? Abortion is awful. It might be necessary, but it’s definitely awful.
You say we should get religion out of politics. I don’t believe that’s the same thing as getting morality out of politics, and you will notice that I have made no claims here that are based on religion as opposed to straight ethics. I have lived in many places where I was part of a tiny religious minority, and I understand that there are problems when the majority imposes its morality. But those problems are just as real when the majority is a-religious or anti-religious. Imagining otherwise is wishful thinking.
I also think that PP is guilty of the same sort of disingenuous portrayals of its behavior and motives as you decry (rightly) in sensationalist videos. I base this on years of reports I have encountered in reputable media and in scholarly studies about racism and abortion, birth control and poverty, and the like. I could be wrong in my conclusions, but you should not assume that everyone who has a low opinion of PP only arrives at it because of one moment of shock from an amateur right-to-lifer.
You’re basically saying “it’s cool God, we got this.”
With the exception of rape, incest, endangerment, isn’t a woman’s choice made when she decides to have unprotected sex? Just saying that that is the time of deciding whether or not a pregnancy or baby is wanted, not after the baby’s body is being prepared .
Also, if you classify secularism as a religion then you’d realize that what you claim to be defending is actually happening in a sense.
…Church members who submit to, perform, arrange for, pay for, consent to, or encourage an abortion may be subject to Church discipline…
Are you saying that what you do at PP does nothing to help arrange for, perform, or encourage others to have abortions?
When you are asked in your TR interview:
“Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?”
Are you really saying that PP is not a group whose practices are contrary to those accepted by the Church?
There most certainly is a contradiction. Do you have the courage and honesty to do something about it?
As a pro-life person, I value the mother’s life as well as the child’s. I do not oppose measures that are medically necessary to save the mother’s life, and neither does The American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. They make the following position statement on abortion to save the life of the mother:
Here’s what they say about ectopic (Fallopian tube) pregnancy in particular:
A pregnant woman in a medical emergency can receive the treatment she needs at a facility other than Planned Parenthood.
It’s true Planned Parenthood does provide many other services aside from abortion. So do numerous community health centers. http://democratsforlife.org/index.php/articles-and-op-eds/press-releases/890-democrats-for-life-supports-defunding-planned-parenthood
(The preceding link is from the perspective of pro-life Democrats, so I’d love to hear what you Mormon Democrats think of it.)
Yes, the tone of the staffers was terrible. But then, we pro-life folks also have a tone problem, all too often. While we speak for the little ones in the womb who can’t speak for themselves, it’s so important that we also seek to understand the concerns of women facing unplanned pregnancies. They don’t want to kill their children; they just want their own lives not to be over. I hope we’ll find ways to work together to help mothers and babies who are in difficult situations, even though we don’t agree on everything.
The idea that PP is pro-woman is a lie. They are anti-woman, anti-life, anti-humanity. Is it possible they do some good? So did Hitler. Hardly a reason to let evil continue doing evil because it did something good!!!
As a child welfare social worker I’ve had the opportunity in my professional as well as personal life to get to know around a 100 women who have used Planned Parenthood services. They fall into the following categories: 1. Poor BYU married students without access to other health care options for family planning 2. Women (not just Mormon women) needing pap smears and breast exams 3. Women beaten for using birth control switching to an IUD 4. Women seeking affordable prenatal care 5. Drug addicts switching from birth control pills to IUD to avoid pregnancy that results in drug addicted/fetal alcohol syndrome/disabled babies. 5) Rape victims getting the morning after pill 6) Women receiving treatment for STD’s (including faithful LDS women who caught the STD from a cheating spouse) 7) Women between the ages of 14-26 uncomfortable getting birth control through their parents insurance 8) Women seeking basic female health information.
PP reports that they perform abortions. But, I can’t make assumptions about the worthiness of those who do receive abortions without knowing more about their lives and individual circumstances. Maybe someday I’ll meet someone who had an abortion through PP. In the meantime, I care deeply about real people facing difficult life situations that have depended on PP to prevent harm and to receive needed treatment.
To all the commenters making anti-PP/ anti-abortion statements, stop and consider if you are truly Pro-Life or merely Pro-Birth. Does your political activism stop when the baby comes out of the womb? If you are Pro-Life, what are you doing to tend to the needs of the poor and disenfranchised, to ensure that the baby does not die on day one outside of the womb? What are you doing to ensure his mother is healthy and can care for him? How about the 400, 000 unwanted children in foster care waiting for adoptive homes? By trying to defund PP you’re only causing harm to individuals that already face immense challenges. You are keeping a sexually trafficked minor from receiving treatment for an STD. You are stopping the diabetic mother from getting the specialized prenatal care she needs. You are preventing a rape victim from getting a morning after pill. You are causing harm. Your judgement is taking more lives than it saves.
I stand with the church on abortion, and as far as rape, incest, or endangerment to the mother—personally, I would not choose abortion in those instances. But as the church has declared, those circumstances are different. While on that subject—terminating an ectopic pregnancy can hardly be lumped in that category. Keeping that pregnancy would kill the mother and the baby would be unviable. They usually prescribe methotrexate for that and the body naturally expels the baby. It is a heart-breaking thing. I know women who have lost a Fallopian tube due to it bursting from this, and were cheated out of the baby they wanted. Just had to add this as I do not think his is a good example of abortion.
Where will you stand when
-and I say when because look where we are now- the progressive, liberal flow on the viewpoint of abortion expands to include a baby that has been born—it is referred to as post-birth abortion? I have heard way-out-there-liberals who love the idea of a woman’s right to choose to include her being able to choose to “terminate” her child up to age three. You can say that will never happen, but who would have thought that PP would be selling fetal tissue—and that is most certainly not a lie. Sure they do a lot of good as you mentioned, but it is completely unacceptable that they are doing this. And they are.
And as far as being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, yes, we will stand accountable for STANDING WITH PP and what it is doing. For fighting with your last breath for a women’s right to [murder] choose? Could you stand before the Lord and explain all this and feel you are in the right? Like Paula Taylor said,one of the first temple recommend questions they ask would exclude you—as you are sympathizing with these groups.
I am not trying to offend you; but I just cannot see where any member of the church could condone this. And if you know anything about history, is it ok to just dehumanize a group of people (here we are talking unborn people) just because that is the popular view of the people and the government?
Secondly, are you suggesting that if our feelings about abortion are based on a religious belief, they are completely invalid in the public sphere? Is this what you think separation of church and state means? That people can’t vote/promote their conscience unless it was entirely uninfluenced by religion?