Last year I posted Rethinking Abortion, a post that noted how the three-paragraph article Abortion in the True to the Faith doctrinal booklet published by the Church seemed to signal "a change in policy or at least a shift in emphasis" when compared to prior statements. Now there's another new statement on abortion, this one posted at LDS.org, that is even mellower than the TTTF article. The winds of change are blowing, it seems.
Here's the first paragraph:
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.
Here are the ways in which the LDS.org statement differs from what was previously stated in the TTTF article: (1) The LDS.org statement has no language suggesting abortion is equivalent to murder. (2) It makes it clear the Church opposes elective abortions undertaken for personal or social convenience rather than making a blanket general statement condemning all abortions. (3) The LDS.org statement notes that the Church "counsels its members" to not submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange such abortions (i.e., elective abortions for personal or social convenience), rather than the harsher wording of the TTTF statement, which explicitly threatened church discipline should a Mormon "encourage an abortion [with no limitations] in any way" (italics and parenthetical added).
The balance of the LDS.org statement tracks the second paragraph of the TTTF article much more closely. The short third paragraph of the TTTF article was omitted from the LDS.org statement. Instead, a new closing sentence was added to the LDS.org statement: "The Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion."
I wonder whether the CHI language has been updated to reflect a softer position as well? Since these new public statements both explicitly require any LDS teenager or woman to make such a difficult decision "only after the persons involved have consulted with their local church leaders" (quoting the LDS.org statement), it would seem disingenuous for members to be guided by gentler public statements while said local church leader, pulling down his restricted copy of the CHI, reads language that paints anyone consulting them in connection with an abortion decision as the equivalent of a murderer. On the basis of these more recent statements of LDS leaders, that sort of condemnatory language seems out of step and out of date.