I have to say I'm of the opposite camp in that I think that absolutes are always . . . absolute. I don't see many shades of grey ever. Um, no shades of grey. I'll just say it as it is. Which is, perhaps, the only way in which I am like my mother when I always wanted to be her clone (only with my red hair--obviously).
First, I don't think of people as absolutes. We all sin. We all need forgiveness. I liked Marilyn's example of someone who smokes. Of course the smoking is wrong (absolute) but the person is no better or worse than myself. A murderer, on the other hand (and I'm not including abortion in this example), I can safely say is farther off the path than I am. Still a precious child of God--but clearly not trying too hard to be obedient. So yes, while people are ambiguous, it is sometimes clear whether or not a person is farther off the path than I am. I would not, however, know if that person was farther off the path than another person that is not myself. Say Kami. She's a hellion. Who knows what she's up to when she's not feeding her baby and taking care of her children. She could be doing anything. So I cannot safely say that Kami is not farther off the path than anyone else. Because I'm not her.
The previous paragraph was basically useless because the important thing to remember about people is that no matter where they are in relation to their obedience to the commandments, we are still required to treat them the same--with love. With kindness. With compassion.
While people as a whole are ambiguous, actions are never ambiguous. Just because I lose my temper and yell at my children for very good reasons I am never justified. It is always wrong. Yelling at a child because said child is in danger is always okay. Absolutely. Smoking, always wrong. Gossiping--always wrong (and that is one of many reasons I'm going to hell). Stealing--always wrong. Indulging in road rage thoughts--always wrong. Wearing a sleeveless shirt--always wrong.
Abortion is not a special case. Getting an abortion because you don't want the baby--always wrong. Getting an abortion because the mother's life is at risk is always okay. Unless the mother has a special witness to her that it isn't. Then it isn't. Still absolute.
Some people may claim that there are murky issues, like deciding to work when you are a mother. However, those issues aren't truly murky to the person deciding. It is only murky to those of us evaluating that person's decision and gossiping about said decision. Being a working mom is not wrong. That's an absolute. Choosing to stay home and not work is not wrong. That's an absolute. Neither of those choices is sin. Receiving revelation about whether or not you should make a choice and then following the inspiration is always right. Choosing to not follow the inspiration is always wrong.
So that's how I see the world. I was worse when I was younger and I cringe when I think about some thoughtless remarks I made as a Youth (as Marilyn would say) because I didn't understand the role of personal revelation. I definitely agree that as I age, I see levels of complexity in life that I didn't see before. I also gain compassion as I experience more of what life throws out. But even that new awareness has not changed my basic belief in obedience trumping all else. Now if I could just always do what I know I should do--that would be wonderful!!!