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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 life.

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 done.

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 of Life."

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

The anti-life 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.

 

 

 


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