Friday, November 25, 2011

Alexander Tsiaras' Video Visualization Of The Progression Of An Unborn Human Baby Validates LDS Church's Official Position On Abortion

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially deplores abortion, although they do distinguish between therapeutic abortion, normally defined as abortion to save the mother's life, preserve her fundamental health, and to deal with the product of rape and incest, vs. elective abortion, which generally has no medical necessity. While elective abortion can expose an LDS woman to church discipline, therapeutic abortion results in no sanctions.

A video produced by Alexander Tsiaras, author of the book “From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds", underscores why the Church takes abortion so seriously. This video, discovered on The Blaze, graphically and progressively depicts the development of a human baby, beginning by showing an egg being fertilized and ending by illustrating a baby’s actual birth. Throughout the clip, viewers see the full fetal development with explanations as to what is occurring at each phase. The actual sequence of fetal development begins at 2:05:

This video should illustrate to the pro-choice viewer why we pro-lifers consider unborn human life to be so sacred. Allowing therapeutic abortion represented a major political compromise on our part; it should be matched by a commitment to respect parental consent and parental notification initiatives from the pro-choice side.

Here's the full official LDS Church statement on abortion, first published a while back:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life. Therefore, the Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience, and counsels its members not to submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions.

The Church allows for possible exceptions for its members when:

* Pregnancy results from rape or incest, or
* A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy, or
* A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.

The Church teaches its members that even these rare exceptions do not justify abortion automatically. Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons involved have consulted with their local church leaders and feel through personal prayer that their decision is correct.

The Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion.

The LDS Church encourages women who become pregnant out of wedlock and who cannot or will not marry the father to put the baby up for adoption, and has created LDS Family Services to link up unwed mothers with qualified LDS families. This is wise counsel, particularly if the unwed mother does not have a supportive family or a sound financial position. However, the LDS Church will respect the desire of an unwed mother to keep her baby; there's no coercion involved.

Nevertheless, abortion by unwed mothers and the sexual activity triggering a pregnancy can result in the convening of a disciplinary council and the imposition of church discipline, to include either formal probation, or, more frequently, disfellowshipment or excommunication. Volume 1 of the 2010 Church Handbook of Instructions (not officially available online; I downloaded my own bootleg copy for personal reference) spells out the details:

-- Paragraph 6.7.2 states that a disciplinary council MAY be necessary in cases of abortion or fornication, listed as serious transgressions. If the incident becomes widely known, a disciplinary council then becomes REQUIRED.

-- Paragraph 6.7.3 states that incest REQUIRES the convening of a disciplinary council, and that a serious transgression that becomes widely known also REQUIRES a council.

The difference -- if a disciplinary council becomes required, the bishop no longer has discretion. He will be directed by the stake president to convene a council, except in the case of a Priesthood holder who gets a stake-level disciplinary council.

Only one disciplinary council is convened per situation. For example, if an unwed mother becomes pregnant through intercourse with her brother, and she gets an abortion, it would generally require only one disciplinary council to be convened, although two breaches of discipline were committed. I have since been informed that more than one disciplinary council is possible, though.

Convening a disciplinary council to deal with a vulnerable teenage girl who gets pregnant out of wedlock may seem harsh and cold-blooded to the casual observer, but Alma 42:25 states that mercy cannot be allowed to rob justice; there must be a balance between mercy and justice preserved. While justice without mercy is tyranny, mercy without justice is anarchy.

Properly handled, an excommunication need not be the end of a story, but the beginning of a new story. Excommunication merely means one cannot officiate in church in any way; it does not prevent the excommunicant from attending church, and the bishop can still assign home teachers to the excommunicant. A bishop with a true sense of discernment will work with an excommunicant to help restore that person to membership and full activity.


Shawz said...

"Only one disciplinary council is convened per situation. For example, if an unwed mother becomes pregnant through intercourse with her brother, and she gets an abortion, it will require only one disciplinary council to be convened, although two breaches of discipline were committed."

I think your example should be re-written, there are too many ambiguities about this situation... At the very least 2 councils are called for for each individual.

Also, I think your statement is harsh in that it doesn't include the very real option of probation or Formal probation. In the case of an un-endowed single person, rarely (in my experience) is the decision beyond a Formal Probation.

Also, you're article would be strengthened by some talk about a man who impregnates a woman and that would cause discipline also...

Jack Mormon said...

Thanks for your input, Shawz. It would seem illogical to have more than one disciplinary council for a single incident, regardless of how many different "sins" were involved, but I've never been involved in such a council.

Formal probation is indeed an option in the mildest of cases, if there is no pregnancy involved, or if the parents agree to get married. In the latter instance, the willingness of the parents to get married shows some degree of repentance.