ABORTION: THE SANCTITY OF LIFE. The inviolability of life, from conception to natural death, is a central teaching of the Catholic Church. Yet in western democracies, and even within the Church, the topic of abortion has become deeply passionate, deeply divisive. So fundamental, so emotional, is this issue that for decades it has enabled some politicians to unscrupulously manipulate Catholic voters in order to gain other political ends.
One side of the issue – often referred to as the ‘pro-choice’ side – is capably and passionately presented in the linked article by columnist and author Michael Coren. A remarkable indicator of the depth of emotion aroused by the abortion debate, however, and an excellent example of the manner in which the issue is bent to political purposes unrelated to the sanctity of life, is the following point, penned every bit as passionately in support of the opposite side of the argument by the very same author, just six years previously – prior to an argument that prompted him to leave the Catholic Church. In his 2011 book “Why Catholics are Right,” Mr. Coren wrote:
“Some basic science first. At the moment of conception, a male sperm unites with a female ovum to fertilize it, and the single-celled organism formed is called a zygote, an intricate and sophisticated repository of biological information of both parents… At conception a child has a unique DNA and genomic character and is already unlike anyone who has ever been conceived or born before or anyone who will be conceived or born afterwards. It is a distinct human life and like all human life in a civilized society should have a right to exist.”
The long-held position of the Church was most recently affirmed by Pope Francis, at paragraph 83 of his 2016 exhortation Amoris Laetitia (“the Joy of Love):
“Here I feel it urgent to state that, if the family is the sanctuary of life, the place where life is conceived and cared for, it is a horrendous contradiction when it becomes a place where life is rejected and destroyed… So great is the value of a human life, and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent child growing in the mother’s womb, that no alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate that life, which is an end in itself and which can never be considered the “property” of another human being.”
It was God himself who handed down to us, through Moses, the unqualified commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”
Behind heated debates about the rights of unwilling mothers, society, and many others, it would serve us well to consider that too often the life that is terminated is that of the only individual involved who is unable to speak for her- or himself.
Yet, we should also bear firmly in mind at all times the clear injunctions of our Holy Father, our Church, and our Lord Jesus Christ that judgment is not ours to dispense, but belongs to God; and that instead it is our place to dispense mercy.
Rather than attempting to browbeat or coerce others into sharing our beliefs, perhaps, in simple and humble acknowledgement that abortion is wrong, we should focus on seeking alternative ways of approaching the issue, of enabling unwilling mothers and unwanted children to find safety and encouragement, and to nurture them as they grow and to thrive – in loving alternative homes, for example.
And we ought to do our best to ensure that unscrupulous politicians, who seek to take advantage of others and their office for other purposes, are unable to manipulate us as voters, simply by paying lip service to a single issue that is of primary importance to us.
We need to shift the entire conversation.