Catholics and Abortion: vs Pro-Choice
Catholics and Abortion: vs Pro-Choice.
(Number 2 in a series)
After an egg and sperm unite at conception to begin a new life the entity is sometimes given different names: zygote, embryo, and fetus. People disagree on at exactly what point each descriptive name should be used. However, the Catholic view is that human life began at the time of initial conception.
Those who disagree with the Catholic viewpoint place the beginning of human life, sometimes called the beginning of personhood, at later points. Many claim that the new life is not a human person until after the live birth takes place. Others claim that human life cannot be claimed until the life reaches a development point where it could survive on its own outside of the mother. The term viable is used to describe that point and occurs somewhere between 22 to 25 weeks into a pregnancy.
Those who disagree with the Catholic viewpoint of when life begins often allow that the termination of pregnancy by abortion prior to the point that life begins (prior to birth or prior to viability) is a personal decision of the mother.
Since the Catholic Church believes that life begins from conception therefore a mother who permits abortion at any point would be considered to have committed a grave moral evil.
The Catholic Church does take into account peoples' intentions. However the Catholic Church's view is that in a moral action the end does not justify the means. Thus if a woman did not want kill a small life but merely wanted to end a pregnancy, in the Catholic view, the act of killing cannot be denied and thus it would be a grave moral evil.
Thus the Catholic Church does not accept the following reasons for terminating pregnancy: family planning (unwanted pregnancy), rape, incest, fetal deformity, and mother's health (with some exceptions).
There are some instances regarding a mother's health where the Catholic Church allows that the death of the embryo may occur without being a moral evil. Such cases are usually where surgical intervention to preserve a mother's health will inadvertently cause loss of the embryo such as in the cases of ectopic pregnancy where a fertilized egg implants and begins growing anywhere outside of the uterus.
So, as one of our readers asked: "Does the embryo`s right to life trump the rights of a woman over her body?" In the Catholic view, yes, the rights of the new life must be respected and protected; an abortion would be a grave moral evil.
Stay tuned, next post will be about the Catholic Church's implications of what is meant by "grave moral evil."
Your comments and questions are welcome.