A Pro-Abortion World
Every living generation in America is more pro-abortion than the last. For instance, among Americans aged 30-49, 62% believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while only 36% believe it should be illegal in all/most cases. Contrast that with 73% (believe it should be legal in all/most cases) and 26% (illegal) for Americans 18-29—in other words, young Americans are almost 3 times more likely to be pro-abortion.
But despite what one might reasonably expect, multi-generational data on members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don’t reveal a similar pattern. On the contrary, young Latter-day Saints are swimming against the tide; younger Latter-day Saints are becoming more pro-life than older generations.
Latter-day Saints and Abortion
Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study (2007 and 2014) included surveying Americans of many religious leanings on topics such as abortion. Its data show Latter-day Saints as among the most pro-life religious demographic in the United States (second only to Jehovah’s Witnesses). For Latter-day Saints aged 30-49, 30% believe abortion should be legal in all/most cases, while 68% believe it should be illegal.
But the youngest age group surveyed lean even more pro-life; just 23% of Latter-day Saints aged 18-29 believe abortion should be legal in all/most cases, and 77% believe it should be illegal.
This doesn’t just show that Latter-day Saints are becoming more pro-life; it also shows that this youngest group is the most pro-life Latter-day Saint age bracket included in this survey.
A pro-life swing has also happened for Christians generally, but its trends don’t track very closely with Latter-day Saints; their shift is much more gradual than the Latter-day Saints’.
Why The Difference?
What might have caused this rapid shift of opinion? While it’s extremely difficult to conclusively determine causes for social phenomena like views on abortion, there are some possible explanations worth considering:
- Increased access to objective information about the preborn and abortion. This is not unique to Latter-day Saints and may also explain part of an increased pro-life sentiment among other Christians as well. Nearly all young adult Americans have seen ultrasound imagery of themselves as babies and/or of their own children. Increased medical advancements have shown evidence of humanity very early in the womb, like a heartbeat present at just 22 days from conception. Combined with the rise of pro-life activist groups and their improved media outreach (think Live Action YouTube videos, the movie “Unplanned”, pro-life podcasters, etc.), those looking for pro-life content online will find more volume and options that appeal to them.
- Access to abortion-related doctrines and spiritual teachings. Prophets and apostles have spoken against abortion (or, historically, “infanticide”/”feoticide”) from the early days of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, but for generations had only two main opportunities to share messages with members of the Church at general conference—which many members miss in part or in whole. The Church Handbook also used to be largely inaccessible. However, now the Church Handbook as well as decades of archived messages from Church leaders are just a tap away on an app. All a Latter-day Saint has to do is search for a topic (like “abortion”) to discover hours of content in the Gospel Library app (or visit this compiled library of content).
- Turning the hearts to the children. “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:6) Usually, Latter-day Saints see this verse as a scripture about family history and proxy temple work, or turning the hearts of the living toward the dead. While this is certainly true, a second part of this could also be true: turning the hearts of the living to those not yet born. As we approach the Second Coming of our Savior, it makes sense doctrinally to see God’s covenant people increase in commitment and love towards our children coming to this earth.
What To Do If You’re Pro-Life But Feel Alone?
If you’re pro-life but feel like the world (or even your circle of Latter-day Saint friends) is against you, take heart. There is a pro-life Latter-day Saint awakening happening right now, and you can be a part of building its momentum—and find community at the same time.
Join Latter-day Saints for Life, the new worldwide coalition of pro-life Latter-day Saints, now over 500 members strong across 36 states and 6 countries. College students, you can even start or join a Latter-day Saints for Life club on your university campus. Contact email@example.com to get started.
Jessica Spackman is the president and founder of Latter-day Saints for Life. She recently moved from Utah to Missouri with her husband and 2 children. Jessica writes on religious topics and is a powerful defender of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the family on social media.