ABORTION - CHURCH STAND
What is God's view of an unborn child? In Jeremiah
1:5, God tells Jeremiah: "Before I formed you in
the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified
you, and I ordained you a prophet to the nations."
In God's view, an unborn child is not just a "collection
of cells", "a fertilised ovum", "a
product of conception", "a fertilized fetal-placental
unit" or "a very fragile one-inch-long mass
of differentiated tissue acting as a parasite within
the mother's body". In the eyes of God, the unborn
baby is alive, known by God, and possessing a God-ordained
God formed us in the womb and from the moment of conception
we were (and are still) precious in His thoughts. He
has fashioned the days for us, meaning that He has a
perfect plan and purpose in our lives. Since in God's
eyes, life begins at conception, abortion is a serious
sin. It is no less than murder.
The unspeakable crime of abortion
Exod 21:22-25 "When men strive together, and hurt
a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage,
and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall
be fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay
upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life,
eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for
foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."
Among all the crimes which can be committed against
life, procured abortion has characteristics making it
particularly serious and deplorable. The Second Vatican
Council defines abortion, together with infanticide,
as an "unspeakable crime". The acceptance
of abortion in the popular mind, in behavior and even
in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous
crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and
more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil,
even when the fundamental right to life is at stake.
Given such a grave situation, we need now more than
ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye
and to call things by their proper name, without yielding
to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception.
In this regard the reproach of the Prophet is extremely
straight forward: "Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil, who put darkness for light and light
for darkness" (Is 5:20). Especially in the case
of abortion there is a widespread use of ambiguous terminology,
such as "interruption of pregnancy," or "medical
termination of pregnancy" (MTP) which tends to
hide abortion's true nature and to reduce its seriousness
in public opinion. No word has the power to change the
reality of things. Procured abortion is the deliberate
and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried
out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or
her existence, extending from conception to birth. The
moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all
its truth if we recognise that we are dealing with murder
and, in particular, when we consider the specific elements
involved. The one eliminated is a human being at the
very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent
could be imagined. In no way could this human being
ever be considered as an aggressor, much less an unjust
aggressor! He or she is weak, defenseless, even to the
point of lacking that minimal form of defense consisting
in the poignant (moving) power of a newborn baby's cries
and tears. The unborn child is totally entrusted to
the protection and care of the woman carrying him or
her in the womb. And yet sometimes it is precisely the
mother herself who makes the decision and asks for the
child to be eliminated, and who then goes about having
It is true that the decision to have an abortion is
often tragic and painful for the mother, insofar as
the decision to rid herself of the fruit of conception
is not made for purely selfish reasons or out of convenience,
but out of a desire to protect certain important values
such as her own health or a decent standard of living
for the other members of the family. Sometimes it is
feared that the child to be born would live in such
conditions that it would be better if the birth did
not take place. Nevertheless, these reasons and others
like them, however serious and tragic, can never justify
the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.
Besides the mother, there are often other people too,
who decide upon the death of the child in the womb.
In the first place, the father of the child may be to
blame, not only when he directly pressurises the woman
to have an abortion, but also when he indirectly encourages
such a decision on her part by leaving her alone to
face the problems of pregnancy. In this way, the family
is mortally wounded and profaned in its nature as a
community of love and in it's vocation to be the "sanctuary
of life." Nor can one overlook the pressures which
sometimes come from the wider family circle and from
friends. Sometimes the woman is subject to such strong
pressure, that she feels psychologically forced to have
an abortion. Certainly in this case, moral responsibility
lies particularly with those who have directly or indirectly
obliged her to have an abortion. Doctors and nurses
are also responsible, when they place at the service
of death, skills which were acquired for promoting life.
But responsibility likewise falls on the legislators
who have promoted and approved abortion laws, and, to
the extent that they have a say in the matter, on the
administrators of the health-care centers where abortions
are performed. A general, and no less serious, responsibility
lies with those who have encouraged the spread of an
attitude of sexual permissiveness and a lack of esteem
for motherhood, and with those who should have ensured,
but did not, effective family and social policies and
in support of families, especially larger families and
those with particular financial and educational needs.
Finally, one cannot overlook the network of complicity
(involvement in wrong doing) which reaches out to include
international institutions, foundations and associations
which systematically campaign for the legalisation and
spread of abortion in the world. In this sense, abortion
goes beyond the responsibility of individuals and beyond
the harm done to them, and takes on a distinctly social
dimension. It is a most serious wound inflicted on society
and it's culture by the very people who ought to be
society's promoters and defenders.
Some people try to justify abortion by claiming that
the result of conception, at least up to a certain number
of days, cannot yet be considered a personal human life.
But in fact, from the time that the ovum is fertilised,
a life has begun which is neither that of the father
nor of the mother; it is rather the life of a new human
being with its own growth. It would never be made human
if it were not human already. This has always been clear.
Modern genetic science offers clear confirmation. It
has demonstrated that from the first instant there is
established the programme of what this living being
will be: a person, this individual person with his characteristic
aspects already well determined. Right from fertilisation
the adventure of a human life begins, and each of its
capacities requires time, a rather lengthy time to find
it's place and to be in a position to act. The Church
has always taught and continues to teach that the result
of human procreation, from the first moment of its existence,
must be guaranteed that unconditional respect which
is morally due to the human being in his or her totality
and unity as body and spirit. "The human being
is to be respected and treated as a person from the
moment of conception, and therefore, from that same
moment his rights as a person must be recognised, among
which in the first place is the inviolable right of
every innocent human being to life."
All human beings, from their mother's womb, belong
to God who searches them and knows them, who forms them
and knits them together with His own hands, who gazes
on them when they are tiny shapeless embryos and already
sees in them the adults of tomorrow whose days are numbered
and whose vocation is even now written in the "Book
Ps 139:13-16 For thou didst form my inward parts, thou
didst knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise
thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful
are thy works! Thou knowest me right well; my frame
was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret,
intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. Thy
eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were
written, every one of them, the days that were formed
for me, when as yet there was none of them.
There too, when they are still in their mothers' womb,
as many passages of the Bible bear witness, they are
the personal objects of God's loving and fatherly providence.
Paul says in Gal 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated
me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace.
The unborn child is thus treated like a thing. But
the unborn child is someone, not something! If he or
she has no voice, we must become the voice of these
little ones. They are the persecuted class of our times.
Contraception and abortion
mentality began, not with abortion, but by separating
sexuality from the transmission of life in contraception
and sterilisation. Despite their differences of nature
and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often
closely connected. Transmitting human life was cut off
from human sexuality and subjected to technological
control. An anti-life, anti-child, mentality set in,
which even some of those who tolerate contraception
recognise and regret. We must never fall for the shallow
argument that providing widespread contraception will
reduce the number of abortions.
Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the
moral evil of every abortion. This teaching has not
changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that
is to say, abortion, willed either as an end or as a
means, is gravely contrary to the moral law. Formal
co-operation in an abortion constitutes a grave offence.
The Church attaches the Canonical Penalty of ex-communication
to this crime against human life. The Church does not
intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes
clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable
harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well
as, to the parents and the whole society. Every person
who commits this crime or assists or forces it, is ex-communicated.
This would include doctors and nurses in abortion clinics
and the like.
Human life must be respected and protected absolutely
from the moment of conception.
Abortion is death. Christ came to conquer death and
therefore, abortion. "I have come that they may
have life and have it to the full" John 10:10.
The final outcome of the battle for life has already
been decided by the resurrection of Christ. It is up
to us to spread that victory to every person. The pro-life
movement is moving from the victory Christ won to the
fullness of that victory on the last day. "There
shall be no more death" Revelation 21:4.