The Catholic Church Categorically Prohibits Abortion And The Legalization Thereof

November 25, 2009

To be clear, I am not a Roman Catholic.  Nevertheless, I am not shy about drawing from the deep well of Catholic teaching prohibiting abortion or the legalization thereof. 

I recently received word of a ghastly organization, “Catholics For Choice“.  It should be noted that this is not a Catholic organization, and in fact, claims to represent “the [alleged] great majority of the faithful in the Catholic church who disagrees with the dictates of the Vatican on matters related to sex, marriage, family life and motherhood.”  Seems sort of silly to call such an entity a Catholic organization at all, since it opposes a rather major mission of the Church, not to mention its authority, which is sort of a big deal in the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Bishops have, of course, addressed this renegade organization: “As the Catholic Bishops of the United States have stated for many years, the use of the name Catholic as a platform for promoting the taking of innocent human life and ridiculing the Church is offensive not only to Catholics, but to all who expect honesty and forthrightness in public discourse.”  The Bishops have also clarified that the Catholic Church’s position against abortion has never changed, and Catholic ministers have offered no shortage of rebuttals to the likes of pro-choice Catholic politicians Nancy Pelosi, Joseph Biden, and Kathleen Sebelius.

Someone from a Catholic background recently told me that the reason the Church prohibits abortion is so that they can baptize infants to remove the stain of original sin, and that the Church does not consider unborn infants “innocent”.  These statements are false.  Just so we’re absolutely clear, I’m going to quote verbatim the Church’s teachings on abortion straight out of the Catechism, which appears in its discussion of the Fifth Commandment (“You Shall Not Kill”). 

2258Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”56 . . . .

Abortion

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.71

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.72

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.73

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.74

God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.75

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,”76 “by the very commission of the offense,”77 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.78 The Church does not thereby 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 of society.

2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

“The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”79

“The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”80

2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

Prenatal diagnosis is morally licit, “if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus and is directed toward its safe guarding or healing as an individual. . . . It is gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence.”81

2275 “One must hold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but are directed toward its healing the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival.”82

“It is immoral to produce human embryos intended for exploitation as disposable biological material.”83

“Certain attempts to influence chromosomic or genetic inheritance are not therapeutic but are aimed at producing human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities. Such manipulations are contrary to the personal dignity of the human being and his integrity and identity”84 which are unique and unrepeatable.

[Italics in original, underline added.]

It could not be more clear that the Catholic Church takes the obvious and common-sense position that unborn human beings are “innocent”.  It affirms that proposition no less than three times.  Likewise, there is no disputing that the Catholic Church deems abortion to be a grave sin, and always has (and that aborted babies do not necessarily go to hell).  The Church explicitly deems the failure to protect unborn lives through penal sanctions to be unjust (not simply as a matter of religious doctrine, but of natural law). 

If anyone claims that the Catholic Church is anything but completely and expressly opposed to abortion and the legalization thereof, there are more than adequate grounds to disabuse that person of that notion.

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