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by Lorry E. Rytting

Sterilization, including voluntary vasectomies, tied fallopian tubes, or premature hysterectomies, are serious matters with moral, spiritual, and physiological ramifications. God's primordial instruction to mankind is to "be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth" (Gen. 1:28). The privilege and power to procreate may be God's greatest gift to mankind and, within the sacred marriage covenant, is an obligation for which God will hold men and women fully accountable. Latter-day Saints affirm that life's most lofty and ennobling values are found in marriage, procreation, parenthood, and family life. Any impediment or interference with this sacred opportunity may warrant God's judgment:

Surgical sterilization should only be considered (1) where medical conditions seriously jeopardize life or health, or (2) where birth defects or serious trauma have rendered a person mentally incompetent and not responsible for his or her actions. Such conditions must be determined by competent medical judgment and in accordance with law. Even then, the person or persons responsible for this decision should consult with each other and with their bishop…and receive divine confirmation through prayer [Church Handbook of Instructions, 11-15].

Consistent with Church policies concerning birth control and abortion, leaders have advised its married members not to resort to any practices that destroy the power of having children. The First Presidency has declared, "We seriously deplore the fact that members of the Church would voluntarily take measures to render themselves incapable of further procreation" (p. 11-5).

(See Attitudes Toward Health, Medicine, and Fitness home page)


General Handbook of Instructions. Salt Lake City, 1989.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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