The Church’s General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the source of official guidelines on matters of moral issues, including topics like abuse, prejudice, suicide, and abortion.
The handbook recently underwent major revisions starting in 2020, and the single new handbook replaced the previous Handbook 1 (for stake presidents and bishops) and Handbook 2 (for all leaders).
During the revision process, the language in some sections of the handbook was updated.
The following are the guidelines on abortion as currently found in the General Handbook (section 38.6.1):
The Lord commanded, “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:6). The Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience. Members must not submit to, perform, arrange for, pay for, consent to, or encourage an abortion. The only possible exceptions are when:
- Pregnancy resulted from forcible rape or incest.
- A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy.
- 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 automatically justify abortion. Abortion is a most serious matter. It should be considered only after the persons responsible have received confirmation through prayer. Members may counsel with their bishops as part of this process.
Presiding officers carefully review the circumstances if a Church member has been involved in an abortion. A membership council may be necessary if a member submits to, performs, arranges for, pays for, consents to, or encourages an abortion (see 18.104.22.168). However, a membership council should not be considered if a member was involved in an abortion before baptism. Nor should membership councils or restrictions be considered for members who were involved in an abortion for any of the three reasons outlined earlier in this section.
Bishops refer questions on specific cases to the stake president. The stake president may direct questions to the Office of the First Presidency if necessary.
As far as has been revealed, a person may repent and be forgiven for the sin of abortion.