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Morality of Abortion_Pope John Paul II

Morality of Abortion_Pope John Paul II -...

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Unformatted text preview: mammmsmwrfimmmm _.. _. _ .li SECTEONE THE MORALITY OF ABORTION THE UNSPEAKABLE CRIME OF ABORTION Pope John Paul H Among alt the crimes which can be committed against life, procnred abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable. The Second Vatican Council defines abortion, together with infanticide, as an “unspeaka bie crime."l But today, in many peopie’s consciences, the per- ception of its gravity has become progressively ob- scured. The acceptance of abortion in the popuiar mind, in behaviour and even in law itself, is a telling Sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more in— capabie 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 roll things by their proper name, with— out yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of selfwdeception. in this regard the From Iohn Paul H. Erzngctiitm Vitae, Encyclical Letter, Au- gust to, [(393 Copyright © 1993 Liberia Editrice Vaticana, 461 reproach of the Prophet is extremely straightfor- ward: ”Woe to those who call evi! good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for dark- ness" US 53:28). Especialiy in the case of abortion there is a widespread use of ambiguous terminol— ogy, such as "interruption of pregnancy,” which tends to hide abortion's true nature and to attenuate its seriousness in public opinion. Perhaps this lin- guistic phenomenon is itseliC a symptom of an un- easiness of conscience. But 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, 0ft: human 115’ng it: the initial phase oflifs or her existence, extending from conception to birth. The moral gravity of procured abortion is ap— parent in ail its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder and, in particular, when we consider the specific eiements involved. The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of iife. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined. in no way could this human being ever be considered an aggressor, much less an unjust '\ 0730M} '4‘i"\“n"\’VW\'memww-u wwwwuku .. "a.” . . . .. \I'x‘x‘vsmWNN‘V‘a w'a‘wv'u w'w p . w v w v aggression He or she is weak, defenselessheven to the point of tacking that minimal form of defence conw sisting in the poignant power of a newborn haby’s cries and tears. The unborn child is totriili; entrusted to the protection and care of the woman carrying him or her in the womb. And yet sometimes it is pteciseiy the mother herself who makes the deci- sion 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 tor purely selfish reasons or out of cow veniencc, but out of a desire to protect certain tm~ portrait values such as her own health or a decent standard of living for the other members of the fam— ily. Sometimes it is feared that the child to be born would live in such conditions that it would be better it the hirth did not take place. Nevertheless, these reasons and others iii-e them, however serious and tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing, of an innocent human being. ' As well as the mother, there are often other pew ple 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 pres- sures the Woman to have an abortion, but also when he indirectly encourages soch a decision on her part by leaving)r her alone to face the problems of greg— nancyr‘ in this way the family is thus mortally wounded and prnfaned in its nature as a commw nity of love and in its 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 subjected to such strong pressure that she feels psychologically forced to have an abortion: certainly in this case moral responsihility lies particularly with those who have directly or indirectly obliged her to have an aimrtton. Doctors and nurses are also responsi— hie, when they place at the service o! death skilis which were acquired for promoting tile. lint responsibility likewise falts 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 centres where abortions are performed. A general and no iess serious responsibility lies with those w ho have encouraged the spread of an attitude of sexual per- 462 Part Fear f Renrogcnetics missiveness and a tack of esteem for motherhood, and with those who should have ensured—«but did now—effective family and social policies in support of families, especialty larger famities and those with particular tinanciai and educational needs. Finally, one cannot overtook the network of eompiicity which reaches out to include internationat insti— tutions, foundations and associations which sys- tematically campaign for the iegalization and spread of abortion in the world. ln this sense abor- tion goes beyond the responsibility of individuals and beyond the harm clone to them, and takes on a distinctly social dimension, it is a most serious wound inflicted on society and its colture by the very people who ought to tie society’s promoters and defenders. As I wrote in my Letter to Homilies, “We are facing an immense threat to tite: not only to the life of individuals hut also to that ofcivilizatioo itself.“ We are facing what can he calted a “strm'mrr Hfs‘ffl" which opposes {roman life not yet horn. Some people try to justify abortion by claiming that the result of conception, at least up to a certain number of days, cannot yet he considered a per- mnal human life. Sol in fact, "from the time that the ovum is tertiii'xed, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor the mother; it is rather the tife of a new human being with his own growth. it would never be made human if it were not human already. this has always been clear, and . . . modern genetic science offers clear confirmation. lt has demonstrated that trom the first instant there is estahlisiied the programme of what this living be— ing will be: a person, this individual person with his characteristic aspects already Welt determined. Right from fertilization the adventure of a human life begins, and each of its capacities requires time—’— a rather lengthy time-Win find its place and to be in a position toact."i liven ifthe presence of a spiritual sou? cannot he ascertained by empirical data, the re sults themselves oi'scientit'ic research on the human embryo provute “a valuable indication {or discern" ing by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of the first appearance of a lnunan life: how could a human individual not be a human person?” l-5tri‘tlic'riitcirt', what is at stake is so impor- tant that, from the standpoint of moral obligation, the mere probability that a human person is inw volved Woutd suffice to justify an absolutely ciear :5: “it “m? g t l t rwwwvvvv'vv- ~ ~ mu :- . unuwnm—wwww-ww w w.“ -. . . . . . . . “0..--.. . M .. A A. . Maw V xiv» «we. «t v v v w w - 5 ~ R-\wwwwywwm‘wwwawwww“ Section I j The Morah'gl qubartiorz 463 prohibition of any intervention aimed at kiiiing a human embryo. Precisely for this reason, over and obove ail scientific debates and those philosophical affirmations to which the Magisteréum has not ex- pressly committed itself, the Church has always taught must continues to teach that the result of humah procreation, from the first moment of its ex~ istence, must be guaranteed that unconditional re— spect which is morally date to the human being in his or her totality and unity as body and spirit: "Tim Inumm [wing is to he n'spccmf rmd ti't'ntm’ :25 rt pawn from the mmm'm of Cmuk’pflwi,‘ and therefore from that some moment his rights as a person must be rccogrtizcd,ar120!1g which til the first ptace is the inw violabie right of every innocent human being to fife.” . . NOTES 1. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modem Worid Gmufinm cf Spa-5:. 31: ”Abortim HL‘EROFI infanti- cidiom zwfanéa smut crimtna," Cf. fnim Rm! R, Apostoiic Letter Mafia-us Dilqizifafh’m {t5 August 1988), Hmiftfi 80 {$938}, H186. No. 212AAS 86 (1994), 920. Congregation for the Doctrine at the Faith, {L‘g‘fau'ntimr an Fromm? Abortion (38 November 1934}, Nos. i243: AAS 66 (1974), 738, Congregation for the sz'trixw of tho Ruth, Instruction am Respect for Human Life in it}; Origin and on the Big nity of Procreation Dmmm may (22 February 198?), i, No. 1:14:45 80 (1988), 9'8—79. (1 with 1'05. vita, 79. !J m 5- :J! w‘w-uwm-uwnm-u w u “flaw-yup. .... H.-. r. .. .. .. . .... \.".(\n'h Wm ‘ t t v , . M , a . V M fingwwwvwa .. , M” w .wam kvwvumw-wnw'wn'u w w. "w v v ...
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