142nd Ask Josh – Abortion

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2009 at 9:59 am

singer_chick463 said…

hey josh,

i feel like this question needs to be heard by others and what they think? if murdering people is a crime, then would it be a crime to kill a baby by having an abortion?


Dear Charity,

First, let me start out by answering your logic question: if murdering people is a crime, then would it be a crime to kill a baby by having an abortion?

Well, first we need the legal definition of murder. At it says murder is “the killing of a human being by a sane person, with intent, malice aforethought (prior intention to kill the particular victim or anyone who gets in the way) and with no legal excuse or authority.”

If you examine that legal definition in bits and pieces you can see why people try to make a case that abortion is murder and others make the case that it is not.

Let’s take another look at the pieces:

  • the killing of a human being – Understand, Charity, that some legal systems do not consider a fetus a human being. Therefore, an abortion would not be considered murder in the legal sense that you’re asking because it may be argued that no human being is being killed. There may be exceptions to this, especially if the unborn child is “quick”, meaning the fetus is moving.
  • by a sane person – If I felt like making jokes about this topic, I may argue that a person who has an abortion is not sane, thereby precluding them as a murderer. But this is not the time for jokes.
  • with intent
  • malice aforethought
  • no legal excuse or authority – where abortion is legal, barring other stipulations and limits, an expectant mother technically has the authority and/or legal excuse to terminate her pregnancy. Where this is the case, abortion is not murder.

Thus, an abortion may not be murder per se, but you’re question was whether it is a crime if murder is a crime. If murder is a crime, and abortion were murder, it would follow that abortion is murder. Legally, abortion is not considered murder and therefore is not a crime in the sense that you ask.

However, this does not mean that I condone abortion, nor does it mean that I believe its legality makes it right.

To borrow Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s words, I, as a Latter-day Saint consider abortion to be an awful practice, even if such practices are legally and constitutionally protected.

In Elder Russell M. Nelson’s article titled “Abortion: An Assault on the Defenseless” [Liahona. October 2008, 14-19], he said, “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.”

In the light of the restored Gospel, we see that it is “forbidden by God” and “consummately wrong.”

As Elder Nelson points out in his article, we stand with God’s commandment that says “thou shalt not kill,” then added, “nor do anything like unto it” [D&C 59:6].

I fully endorse the Church’s and Elder Nelson’s position. I suggest that you read Elder Nelson’s article in its entirety, you can find it here or by searching using the title of the article as written above.

Luckily, my Church does not stand alone in this stance. I love what Mother Teresa said on the subject, “If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill each other? . . . Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want” [“Mother Teresa Has Anti-Abortion Answer,” Salt Lake Tribune, February 15, 1994, p. A­11].

Later on, quoted in the same article, I admired her bravery in her proposed solution. She said, “I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child” [Ibid.].

I could go on on about many of the arguments for both sides and the implications of each. But none of that will change God’s stance, nor mine. While I do not approve of abortion, I sympathize with those who are confronted with such a heart-wrenching decision. I’m glad it’s not my call to make. It would be tough for me to imagine in my head the thought process that would lead anyone to think that abortion is a desirable act when compared to all possible alternatives.

Be good.


Josh Guest

  1. I like the way you handled this one Josh

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