The Lost Generation of Aborted Americans

June 30, 2004 | 20 comments

OpinionJournal concludes that abortion took 12 million potential voters out of the citizenry for the 2000 elections, 18 million potential voters in this election, and 25 million voters out of the citizenry for 2008. I suppose one could run similar calculations for everything. How many bloggers were aborted? How many converts has the gospel missed out on? Quite a few. True, it’s not as simple as just totalling up the abortions, since some would use contraception otherwise, but still quite a few.

I also wonder about the less direct effects. Abortion increases the divide between sex and childrearing. It further legitimates trying to avoid having children. For both of these reasons abortion has probably helped along the decay in marriage and family. On an individual level, well, having children changes a person. Me for one, I’m more socially conservative and less economically conservative and less emotionally stable and happier. Those last two, especially, were a bit of a surprise. Abortion prevents that experience for some. For others it kept them from the experience of a child that was theirs but not by their conscious decision, and that too I imagine would change a person. Because abortion affects more than just the size of the population, I’m just not onboard when Opinionjournal concludes that were it not for all the aborted democrat babies the Democratic Party would win more elections. Funny, guys, but really.


20 Responses to The Lost Generation of Aborted Americans

  1. Frank McIntyre on June 30, 2004 at 4:40 pm

    Elder Nelson gave a conference talk recently on building a gospel foundation for one’s children. When he noted how sin could make it hard to teach as we should, he mentioned 3 sins specifically: abortion, pornography and drug abuse.

    So I’m all for the idea that not only does becoming a parent change one, aborting a child carries its own effects on how we think and behave.

  2. Kaimi on June 30, 2004 at 5:04 pm


    From a gospel standpoint, isn’t this more or less a net gain, at least as far as the souls of aborted children? Aren’t they subject to Moroni 8, and do not need baptism, but are alive in Christ?

  3. Nathan Tolman on June 30, 2004 at 5:09 pm

    It seems that pro-abortion advocates have topped Hitler, are approaching Stalin, and will someday kill as many as Mao. The Holocaust of the womb, very sad.

  4. Frank McIntyre on June 30, 2004 at 5:12 pm


    Although Moroni 8 may well apply, I doubt we can really say where abortion fits in. Furthermore, I always assumed that such children would have been exalted anyway because they were such righteous spirits. If that is the case, abortion and infant mortality may deprive us of the company of many truly wonderful people while we are here.

    Of course, I might be completely wrong in that assunption.

  5. Dan Burk on June 30, 2004 at 5:14 pm

    Kaimi — You’re assuming that they are “children” for purposes of Moroni 8 — since we have no clear doctrine as to when the spirit and body unite, they may simply be unused tabernacles, and the spirits that might have used them inherit their second estate later.

    It’s pretty much a moot point, as LDS doctrine on abortion is based on the moral status of the parents, not the moral status of the fetus.

  6. Nathan Tolman on June 30, 2004 at 5:19 pm

    Kaimi – so you are saying this is a positive thing overall?

  7. Kingsley on June 30, 2004 at 5:27 pm

    What if mortality is like childhood: One stage of existence filled with horrors but also with beauties that really can never be experienced again? J.M. Barrie was obsessed with the paradox that something very fine departs with the arrival of adulthood, yet to remain in perpetual childhood obviously would be madness. Robbing a soul of mortality might be like somehow robbing a mortal of his childhood: something he can never have again. I mean the experience of being here, trailing clouds of glory but cut off from glory’s source, strangers in a strange land, the adventure of the probationary estate. You wonder if that adventure, like the adventure of childhood, is something that resurrected beings delight to relive in conversation, drama, literature, etc. Is an aborted soul robbed of something very fine, something totally irreplaceable?

  8. lyle on June 30, 2004 at 6:03 pm

    Hm. I’ve always thought that aborted spirits would be reborn latter into another mortal tabernacle. Perhaps it depends on the trimester?

    Adam: I agree…growing up is very strange; and while my “kids” are only for FHE & Sunday purposes, being their godfather & accountable for their spiritual upbringing has weighed heavily upon me…maybe even encouraged my heart to soften & to avoid, even w/o getting rid of the desire to sin, some sins.

    However…It’s also moved me closer to accepting stem cell research & favoring a ban on the death penalty.

    So…I guess I would agree with you: aborted babies don’t necessarily add up to more democratic voters…although they are probably about 51% right (i.e. more than not) given that parental political choice is the biggest factor in future voter identification.

  9. john fowles on June 30, 2004 at 8:30 pm

    Sarcasm doesn’t come over too well in print, but I was shocked by what Kaimi wrote and can only assume that he was being sarcastic, or at least ironic. To suggest that it is actually good that these babies have been aborted because it puts them under Moroni 8′s guarantees is really very extreme. Knowing that Kaimi is otherwise rather liberal minded and presumably wouldn’t praise the killing of innocent human beings, I can only conclude that Kaimi was subtly poking fun at LDS doctrine that children who die before the age of accountability are saved in Christ, or more likely at the more folk-LDS tradition that babies who die in infancy or who are mentally retarded are just such choice spirits that they are spared the rigours of the mortal experience of temptation, etc. Even if this was Kaimi’s intent, it is still very insensitive. Some people hold on dearly to that belief–even if it isn’t strictly doctrinal–to cope with having a retarded child or an infant mortality.

    Abortion is no joking matter. Even if you support it. It is dead serious, no matter how you look at it. Even if you truly believe that abortion is about women’s rights (which I suggest is only a smoke screen that allows abortion advocates to avoid the more difficult question, and real issue, of whether it is murder or not) you cannot dismiss the profound effect it must have on any woman choosing to kill her baby while still in the womb. Some say that violence in the media brutalizes society–I suggest that this upward abortion trend does so as well and in a much more real way that seeing actors in war movies. After all, that which is aborted is either a human being or it is not.

  10. Mark Butler on June 30, 2004 at 10:59 pm

    The most salient thing I can think of to say on the topic of abortion is that I doubt there are many more effective ways to lose the birth right than to abort ones developing progeny.

  11. Silus Grok on July 1, 2004 at 12:18 am

    I will have to second Mr. Burk’s comment: we don’t know when the spirit enters the body… so believing that these “children” have gone on to eternal bliss may be overstepping a firm doctrinal foundation.

    Looking to other official Church practices, it is my understanding that miscarried children don’t receive any special treatment… that a child must be _born_ before being treated as a “child”. My recollection may be wrong… but it’s based on my memory of my last reading of the handbook of instructions (about four years ago).

    FWIW, it is my personal belief that the greatest loss suffered in the widespread acceptance of abortion as an acceptable alternative, is the losses manifest in society as children become more and more like commodities, and less and less like the miracles they are.

    As for the linked article, I think the premise of the article is unsavory… and the conclusions open to debate.

  12. Kaimi on July 1, 2004 at 11:51 am


    I’m not trying to disturb anyone, or to be flippant. I’ve thought for a long time that Moroni 8 has some very strange theological repercussions. Perhaps I should have been more clear.

    It’s a topic that has come up elsewhere in the bloggernacle as well — Bob Caswell wrote about it a few months ago. Perhaps I’ll try to write about the subject in more detail.

  13. john fowles on July 1, 2004 at 5:00 pm

    I’d be interested in that.

  14. Potential Mother of Triplets on July 4, 2004 at 2:16 am

    I don’t know if this is quite the right post for this thread, but I’m facing a troubling moral question and T&S is my favorite source for intelligent discussion of LDS doctrine. I’m pregnant with triplets and my doctor wants me to “selectively reduce”—i.e. abort one of the babies. There are some risks to my health, but primarily the risks he’s concerned about are for the babies themselves: much higher chance of cerebral palsy and other complications, near certain prematurity and low birth weight. There’s a pretty high chance that at least one of the babies will not survive until birth—the catch is that the later in the pregnancy a miscarriage occurs, the greater the odds of causing serious complications or death of the other babies. In other words, aborting one in the first trimester greatly increases the odds of the other two’s survival and health.

    My reaction to this was instinctive and (I admit) dogmatic. Abortion is wrong, therefore it is immoral to consider reduction. My husband, who is a faithful priesthood holder and quite thoughtful about his beliefs, raised some strong questions about the immorality of NOT selectively reducing. If we were pregnant with a single child with a 30% chance of cerebral palsy, we would of course not terminate the pregnancy. No hesitation there. But he raised the hypothetical question of what if not only the unborn child had a 30% chance, but giving birth to him would mysteriously give our older, healthy, bright son a 30% chance of dying or losing his faculties? (This was an excellent rhetorical device with a hormonal mother gazing across the table at a perfect, beautiful toddler!) Would we have the moral right to take that risk on behalf of our son?

    My husband and I have discussed this a great deal, as you might imagine, but we don’t really know if there is official church doctrine on the subject. I assumed that the doctrine would be against it, but there are rare cases in which abortion is permitted and I don’t know if this might be one of them. We’ve found various secular ethical opinions, an excellent rabbinic discussion, and plenty of doctrinaire and/or warm fuzzy message board postings, but cannot find anything about the Church’s position on this extremely sensitive issue.

    I know T&S isn’t usually a specific “what should I do?” bulletin board, but I really respect the diversity of opinion and tremendous intelligence and consideration everyone brings to the controversial issues discussed here. Even though this is clearly a personal decision and therefore harder to discuss than a hypothetical ethical question, I would really appreciate a gloves-off discussion. I promise we can handle conflicting views and will not take it personally! I deliberately posted anonymously (although that is atypical for this board) so that no one will feel awkward stating their real opinions regardless of our on-line or off-line relationships. And of course, ultimately we will make our own decision thoughtfully, tearfully, and with a great deal of prayer.

  15. diogenes on July 4, 2004 at 6:19 am

    The Church’s position is that abortion is wrong IF done for the wrong reasons, usually selfish reasons that involve misuse of procreation or avoidance of the obligation to multiply and replenish the earth.

    Where a woman had no choice in the conception, or where the life or health of the mother is at risk, abortion may be permissible. The choice is between the couple and the Lord. Priesthood leaders are available to counsel and advise.

    I see nothing selfish or sinful in the reasons for which you are contemplating selective redution of triplets, quite the contrary. You are not trying to avoid your responsibility as a parent — you are trying to save the life and health of at least some of your babies.

    If through prayerful consideration of your situation you decide that the proper course of action is to abort one of the fetuses, I have no doubt that the spirit that might have inhabited that body will have another opportunity to experience mortality. Hopefully, he or she would be honored to make the sacrifice of delaying mortality for his or her other siblings.

    May you have the Lord’s guidance in your decision.

  16. obi-wan on July 4, 2004 at 6:59 am

    I agree with Diogenes that only the Lord has the wisdom to advise you on the proper choice for your family and for those three spirits that are waiting to take up mortal bodies. He knows not only the probable risks to each of them, but the actual outcomes. He can also let you know whether one of them can or should wait awhile longer before coming to Earth.

    I think it important to remember that our Father sacrificed our elder brother in order to save the rest of us. You may be facing a similar decision. If it should prove that you have to sacrifice one of the fetuses for the benefit of the others, you may gain a special understanding of His feelings during the Atonement.

    You have my prayers — pseudonymous though we both may be, the One listening knows who we are.

  17. Angela Wentz Faulconer on July 4, 2004 at 1:47 pm

    Potential mother of triplets: I don’t know if you would be interested, but there is a family in our ward that faced the same questions you’re facing three years ago (they now have three beautiful healthy three year olds as well as two older children). I know that they were very worried about the dangers the mother and babies faced in the months leading up to the triplets’ birth. If you would be interested in talking with them about their thoughts, I would be happy to put you in touch with them–just e-mail me.

    As for my own opinion on your question (I can’t speak to Church doctrine which is what you’re really asking), I don’t think the possibility of the triplets having cerebral palsy, or being premature, or being low birth weight is reason for intervening to stop one of their lives. If you were having a single baby and it was certain that the baby was going to be born with serious problems–low birth weight, prematurity, cerebral palsy–this would not be reason to act to end the pregnancy and stop the fetus.

    I think the threat to your own life and to the life of the babies is another matter. I do think that is reason to consider intervention. However, I think even in this case, it is probably a mistake to terminate one of your fetuses. I’m no doubt influenced by my acquaintance with Ava, Cole, and Travis (the three-year old triplets I mentioned). At this point you are probably better informed as to the statistics than I, but there is a reasonable chance that the babies will be okay, right? If one of the babies is injected with potassium chloride, the outcome for her is very certain. She will not be born.

    I would be uncomfortable with actively intervening to stop the life of one of the fetuses (because this action is so certain and so serious), when the outcome on the other side (the question of whether the babies will survive and whether they will be healthy) is uncertain–there’s a good chance that they could live. I think it better to put the fetuses’ welfare in the hands of God (by attempting to carry all three of them), rather than determining the outcome.

    Of course, it’s easy for me to offer an opinion when I’m not the one who has to make the decision or to be impacted by it. I feel fairly convinced that it would be a mistake to terminate one of the fetuses. But I know that if I were in your position I would be praying about it and asking the Lord if I were wrong. I mention this not to urge you to pray–I know you’re praying already–but to explain that after all the dogmatic opinions you will hear on every side, that is the right route for your conclusion.

  18. Adam Greenwood on July 4, 2004 at 9:47 pm

    I give my own opinion in the hopes that, with the other opinions here, it will help you get and answer from God.

    Obviously having three premature children, possibly with cerebral palsy, will be a huge burden on you. I don’t know what you’re able to bear.

    I do know that if the worst comes, and your children do have bad problems, they will still love each other. They’ll grow to think their suffering is worth having their third brother or sister.

  19. Kristine on July 4, 2004 at 10:18 pm

    Mother of Triplets: I don’t think there is a clear or unambiguous *doctrinal* answer to your question. The church does have a stated policy about abortion, which you have probably read (and which doesn’t begin to address the questions you face), but here it is, in case you haven’t seen the full text:

    The Lord commanded, “Thou shalt not…kill, nor do anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6). The Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience. Members must not submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for an abortion. The only possible exceptions are when:

    1. Pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

    2. A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy.

    3. A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.

    Even these exceptions do not justify abortion automatically. Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons responsible have consulted with their bishops and received divine confirmation through prayer.
    My opinion, worth precisely what you are paying for it:

    The dilemma your husband proposes is real. Both choices are ethically justifiable and potentially faithful and righteous. Making either choice would require great courage and faith. I cannot imagine (much less worship) a God who would present his children with such a dilemma and then punish them arbitrarily for making the wrong choice, unless both He and they knew that he had *clearly* revealed His will to them and been ignored. For me the easier (though by no means easy!) choice would be to continue the pregnancy and hope, pray, believe in God’s blessing on the babies. But a part of me would wonder if I was abdicating my own responsibility by leaving the outcome to God.

    Which is to say, of course, that I have no idea what I think you should do. Ultimately, though, I have faith in God’s lovingkindness, and I think it is possible to imagine many ways in which this experience will be a blessing to you and your children, no matter which path you choose.

    (Rereading this, it strikes me as the sort of thing that would make me want to throw things if I were the one seeking advice. Please read it as a sincere, if lame, attempt to be sympathetic–it seems pretty clear that you and your husband are already doing much better *thinking* about the questions than I am!)

  20. Restoring Lost Comments on November 25, 2004 at 9:37 pm

    I appreciate everyone’s sympathy and support (and Kristine, I have no desire to throw things at you! :) I realize in retrospect that I should have posed this as a hypothetical question to make it less uncomfortable. I just have trouble with the necessary emotional distance–which is precisely the problem I have trying to get a clear answer. My husband and I have just read too much philosophy, I guess: Kierkegaard and John Stuart Mills are battling it out in my head. The problem with Mills is he assumes you can accurately weigh the alternative consequences. Kristine, I’m right with you on the inclination to leave the outcome to God. Perhaps it’s moral cowardice on my part not to face the issue, but I figure He knows the outcome where we can only guess based on statistics.
    Comment by: Potential Mother of Triplets at July 4, 2004 11:52 PM


    I once had some personal involvement with somebody making a similar decision. I know that the choice you face is a very difficult one (and it is best that I too remain anonymous). I could certainly respect the morality and spirituality of a person who made either choice. I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for you and admiration for your thoughtfulness.
    However, from a purely pragmatic perspective–as I’m sure your doctors have told you–it is hard to make a case for carrying all three to term.
    My understanding of the statistics (perhaps not perfect or perfectly up to date) is that if you carry the fetuses to term, you have better than even odds of having all three survive without any long term mental retardation or seriously disabling cerebral palsy.
    Better than even odds, but not very MUCH better. The rates of second-trimester miscarriage, stillbirth, cerebral palsy (which in the majority of cases also involves mental retardation) are all extremely high. Each INDIVIDUAL fetus may have a 70% or better chance of survival — and perhaps as high as a 90% chance of living a completely normal life if it survives — but the odds are painfully high that at least one of the three will die or have serious problems.
    I’m sure that all visitors to this site agree that the life of an eight-weeks-from-conception fetus (with its beating heart, other organs beginning to form) is extremely precious.
    But how precious? Would you personally be willing to accept a thirty percent chance of death (or spending the remainder of your life paralyzed, perhaps unable to speak or eat normally) in order to increase an eight-week-old fetus’s survival probability from 0 to 70%?
    If it were the mother’s life involved, how many husbands would want their wives to take such a risk? Could you even consider asking another person to assume such a risk?
    If not, then is it right for you to force this risk on your other two children, who themselves have no say in the matter?
    If you try carry the babies to term, there is a good chance that at least one of them will die anyway and that the others will be seriously disabled. Now is the time to be brutally honest with yourself about how you will cope with this far-from-remote scenario.
    Will you be able to explain to your other children that they must now endure a lifetime of suffering because of your failed gamble?
    Will they understand that you made them risk a lifetime of suffering (with perhaps severe cerebral palsy, blindness, chronic lung disease) so that you could increase the expected number of surviving fetuses from 1.8 to 2.2?
    If a loss must occur, is it not better for it to occur now (while the fetuses are smaller than your thumb, just beginning to develop) than at the end of the pregnancy?
    I could never judge you personally for either choice. The existence of many healthy sets of triplets in the world is difficult to ignore. The fact that you have better than even odds of having three healthy triplets might make you willing to take the risk.
    But I would seriously question the wisdom, if not morality, of anybody who tried to PRESSURE you into carrying all three fetuses to term. It is you and your children who must bear the consequences of your decision. Only you can make this choice.
    Of course, I have not told you anything you don’t know. It is clear that you and your husband are already well aware of all of the issues I have have raised here.
    I once read that about half of the people in this situation choose selective reduction. I have no doubt that the people on both sides are good people who genuinely want what is best for their children.
    You are facing a dilemma that I would never wish upon anybody. May God bless you and your children.
    Comment by: anonymous at July 5, 2004 01:30 PM


    A woman in my ward has twins, one of whom is severely disabled. She was advised by her doctors to abort one of the twins in order to increase the chances of a healthy outcome for the other. (Strangely, the doctors had for some reason predicted that the child most in danger of being born disabled was the twin who, in fact, is perfectly healthy.) Their family has come to see the presence of the disabled child as an enormous blessing to their family. They have spoken on more than one occasion of the beautiful and palpable spirit that she has brought into their family. I cannot personally imagine the difficulties of caring for a child with such needs. I stand in awe of this family and the incredible aura of spirituality that surrounds them. I have no idea which choice I would make if placed in the same situation. I know that the choice to carry both babies to term was not an easy decision for them, and was made with much prayer. They felt led by the Spirit in their decision. And I think that they draw heavily on the memory of that spiritual manifestation when they are struggling with the daily challenges of caring for their daughter. It amazes me that they speak much more of the love and joy that they share in their family than of the difficulty. My heart goes out to you and every family facing a similar choice.
    In rereading this, I suppose this sounds like more of the warm, fuzzy unhelpful stuff you’ve already read. I’m sorry. I suppose the only answer here is that there is no easy answer.
    Comment by: ldsmom at July 5, 2004 02:41 PM



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