Wednesday, January 18, 2006

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.


At Wednesday, January 18, 2006 11:40:00 AM, Blogger L. said...

So many pro-lifers, even Catholic ones, make exceptions for rape and incest that I think the definition of "pro-life" has gotten as cloudy as that of "pro-choice."

At Thursday, January 19, 2006 3:01:00 AM, Blogger Granny said...

Waiting for part 3

At Thursday, January 19, 2006 3:56:00 AM, Blogger Andrea said...

One of my major problems with this whole thing is the idea(?), beleif, that the catholic view must be imposed on others by working through the courts. i am all for people beleiving what they want but i turn rabid when people impose their beleifs on me.

Why cant the church accept that others think differently and just teach their own flock to follow the beleifs of their church?

At Thursday, January 19, 2006 10:37:00 AM, Blogger L. said...

Andrea, I think I might be able to answer that. If you heard about someone killing newborn babies, you`d be upset, right? If people truly believe that killing an embryo in the womb is exactly the same as killing a newborn in a cradle, they want to do all they can to stop it from happening. This is why I`ve never understood why so many pro-lifers say they`d permit abortions in cases of rape or incest -- why should the extenuating circumstances of conception matter, if the embryo is a person unto himself or herself? This always struck me as inconsistent.

At Thursday, January 19, 2006 4:31:00 PM, Blogger jw said...

Sorry I haven't commented back but my internet conntecion has been down since noon Wednesday and will be down for another day. (I am using a library computer now.)

Andrea, good questions. I believe post #4 will deal with that but your advance input will help me finish writing it.

Later. -Jerry

At Friday, January 20, 2006 9:15:00 AM, Blogger jw said...

OK. Internet reconnected. Gosh, what a helpless feeling! The library only allowed 15 minutes usage if someone else is waiting.

The terms Pro-Life and Pro-Choice are political terms that have been adopted. There is no organizational structure behind either of them. So, yes, L. you are right that Pro-Lifers often differ from the Catholic Church because they are not the same thing.

I will expound a little further later that the Catholic Church views and views of individual Catholics are not the same either. The Church is not a democracy. Last week I saw a news article that described the Catholic Church as the last surviving monarchy! (Ah, technicalities.)

At Friday, January 20, 2006 11:11:00 AM, Blogger J said...

Hi JW, my first visit to your blog. Very nice. I like your posts on Abortion, because you are so uninvolved with it all. So many of the arguments that we hear are so angry and upset, it is hard to get to the crux of the matter. You do that very well.

My mom made a good point to me a few years ago...if both sides of the issue (not necessarily the Catholic Church, unfortunately, since they don't believe in birth control) would come together and put their FULL EFFORTS toward education and avoiding unwanted pregnancies, at least 80% of this problem would 'magically' go away.

Of course there would still be the question of what a woman does whos health is in danger, or other questions.

My opinion? Life begins at conception, and I agree with L that the exception for rape/incest doesn't change the facts of the matter.

That having been said, I also believe that in cases like this, where there is a struggle between two sides for their rights (In this case, the unborn child vs. the reluctant pregnant woman), the rights of the woman should preside. I don't think I'm making my point as well as others might, but there you go. :)

Thanks for a thought provoking blog. I'll be back to read the rest of this thread.

At Friday, January 20, 2006 12:21:00 PM, Blogger jw said...

Hello, J., thanks for commenting.

The Catholic Church does believe in birth control - - its the details that count! As I indicated I plan to cover family planning.

In the case "where there is a struggle between two sides" the Catholic Church believes that avoiding murder of the fetus takes precedence - - always.

At Sunday, January 22, 2006 11:20:00 AM, Blogger Mary P. said...

I've been sympathetic with the discussion to this point. At one point in my life, for reasons that were very compelling to me, I seriously, seriously considered an abortion. Thus, I have tremendous sympathy for a woman in that position. I chose not to. Another woman in the same situation might choose to - and I would not feel I had the right to condemn her for this.

I've had three children, I'm now in my forties. I feel a pregnancy is nine months of your life. The visible part of a first-time pregnancy only about half that. Weigh that against the child's (potential child, if you will) entire life, seventy years or more, and it doesn't seem too unreasonable to say that the woman make this temporary sacrifice.

The issue of allowing abortion in the case of rape or incest has to do with the issue of choice. A woman who chooses to have sex accepts - or at any rate, she should! - the possibility of pregnancy. That a woman who did not consent to the act should then have to bear its consequences seems unjust. Of course, that the child, who is the entirely innocent result of the crime, should be eliminated is also unjust. It's messy and morally murky, no two ways about it. Still, the distinction in this case makes sense to me.

However. This notion that a baby's right to live trumps the mother's right to live? A life in the process of being lived should be sacrificed for a life that's hardly begun? A reality for a potential? What of a woman who has other children? Does this unborn child's right to its life justify taking a mother away from her children, of taking a wife from her husband? This seems wrong.

This is a fascinating discussion in the abstract. It is tremendously painful in the reality. I ache for those frightened woman; I cry for their unborn children; I rage at those who deny the tragedy of this event, even though I believe there are times when it is necessary - essential even. Even then, it's such a sad, sad thing.

I once held a friend, a happily married woman, as she sobbed on my shoulder, having decided to terminate her fourth pregnancy. Her reasons are her own, not mine to share here. I would have made a different choice, I think, but she felt it was the only choice she could make in her circumstances. It was not one she made lightly. Nor should it be.

Messy and murky - like much of life, hmm?

At Thursday, February 09, 2006 7:26:00 PM, Blogger jw said...

"This is a fascinating discussion in the abstract. It is tremendously painful in the reality." Mary P. you are so right. As I have been researching and writing these posts I have agonized over that fact. A woman in a situation where abortion might be a consideration may be in such great pain. I know that my readers here have either been in that situation themselves or probably know someone dear to them who has.

I have tried to discuss this issue as a presentation of the Catholic Church's stance on abortion. That is the request that I received which got me started. But I know that the Catholic Church has a history making pronouncements without considering the feelings of people. In my work, writing here and in future ministry, I want to always try to understand the people that I am dealing with.

Regarding, "This notion that a baby's right to live trumps the mother's right to live?" In my post I meant it trumps a mother's right to "choose." The Catholic view is that a mother cannot choose priorities in her life (as worthwhile as they might be) over the life of another human being.

However when the decision relates to whether or not the mother will live or die, then the Church does give some leeway. I listed such cases as ectopic pregnancy. In my research I did not come up with any other good examples when preference might need to be given to the very life of a mother.

There is another Catholic area of discussion that I have not yet undertaken here. That is the need for each individual to follow their own conscience. A mother must come to a decision that ultimately has do to with her own relationship between herself and God - - that involves a decision of conscience. That discussion is another whole tretise, but ultimately that is the one that counts. The Church can tell a person information that needs to be considered, but each individual must make their own decisions.

Mary P. I can tell by the passion with which you write that you are a very concerned and caring person. I am so glad for you. I also know that being like that you feel greatly for people who have problems in their lives. May God continue to bless you.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord look upon you with kindness and give you his peace.

At Friday, December 29, 2006 1:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anne said...

unfddThere is a great need for information on the dangers of abortion to women, men and families. I am a post abortion survivor. I know the terrible things that abortion does to women. I do not mean just me... I mean tens of thousands of women who have suffered from post abortion syndrome, and their families who suffer along with them. Abortion is the taking of human life. Ask any scientist.

At Sunday, October 14, 2007 1:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone didnt do their research. ok, there are not many pro life people who allow abortion under "any circumstances." rape and incest is no exception. you are blind if you believe a baby must die just because you are raped. if you dot raped, it is not the babywho should be punished with death. you need to pull your head out of it and look at the whole picture. because if you do, you would see that the right of a human being "trumps" the right of a woman to "control her own body" for an operation. you know killing is bad. so, abortion is a greivious sin, and of course is murder.


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