Mormon bioethics.

Author:Stanford, Joseph B.
Position:Correspondence - Letter to the Editor

I must point out that the quotation from Charles Colson in reference to Mitt Romney (While We're At It, May) misrepresents the belief of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. LDS doctrine states that each human person existed as a spirit prior to the beginning of mortal human life. (There is no reincarnation; the premortal existence is as spirit only.) There is no official LDS doctrine on when the premortal spirit enters or animates the body, and contrary to Colson's assertion there is no unified belief among LDS church members on this point.

For those of us of the LDS faith, the lack of doctrine on when the spirit unites with the body should not lead to a devaluing of the early stages of human life. In 1985, for example, LDS Apostle Russell M. Nelson (who, prior to his calling to the apostleship, was a physician) stated that "it is not a question of when 'meaningful life' begins or when the spirit 'quickens' the body. In the biological sciences, it is known that life begins when two germ cells [the sperm and the egg] unite to become one cell, bringing together twenty-three chromosomes from both the father and the mother.


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