Much of the division among Americans over the issue of abortion comes from different beliefs regarding the beginning of human life — often informed by faith.
With that in mind, we sought out the views of Utah religious leaders.
Utah's two largest faith communities decided against speaking on camera, but each offered written statements.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said:
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.
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.
The Church’s position on this matter remains unchanged. As states work to enact laws related to abortion, Church members may appropriately choose to participate in efforts to protect life and to preserve religious liberty.
The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City wrote:
The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City welcomes efforts to protect the dignity and sanctity of every life from conception to natural death. We are grateful that the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes the human within in the womb, but we also recognize it is the responses of communities to women in need before, during and after pregnancy and the birth of a child that are the most important to building a culture of life.
Courts cannot ensure that women have the support and resources needed to raise healthy children. We encourage all communities of faith, neighbors, friends, and family to be ready and willing to walk with moms as they seek to provide lives of dignity for their children.
Catholics can help through our diocesan Walking with Moms in Need[dioslc.org] program and Project Rachel[dioslc.org]. The Diocese will also continue to advocate for private and public supports, such as the Child tax Credit, health coverage for all children and extended coverage for new moms, and deeply affordable housing to support the development of strong families.
Other faith communities have anticipated the ruling with concern.
"It felt like a gut punch," said Assistant Pastor Monica Dobbins of the First Unitarian Church. "My first thought was of all of the all of the people whose health care is going to be affected negatively by this."
Dobbins serves a Unitarian congregation looking for ways to mobilize against Utah's new restrictions.
"We're thinking, 'How can we support families who don't have access to sex education, who maybe live in rural communities where they don't have a doctor, can't get reliable information from doctors and health care providers?' It's just a mess."
Rabbi Sam Spector of Congregation Kol Ami expressed similar concerns.
"I'm worried about a situation where people with economic means are able to go to states where they can get abortions, while people, women from lower socio-economic statuses are unable to do so and then resort to illegal and unsafe abortions that put their lives in danger," Spector said.
Spector said he knows there are supporters and opponents of the decision in the pews of his congregation.
"There's a lot of gray in this in this situation, and I think we need to listen to people's stories and to see holiness and goodness in one another," he said.
He added that Judaism in general sees life beginning at birth, in contrast with the view of the Roman Catholic and Latter-day Saints faiths saying it begins at conception.