Catholic View on Abortion
Catholic view on abortion has always been that abortion is a grave evil. Since the first century, Catholic authors have maintained that abortion is forbidden by the bible the way it forbids murder. The Catholic Church has held this view on the basis of the principle that all life since conception till the time of natural death is sacred. Taking the life of another person, whether unborn or born, is wrong morally.
Why this is the Catholic view on abortion
The Catholic Church has for a long time held this view regarding abortion because human life is and should be considered sacred from the beginning. This is because for a human to come into being or existence, God’s creative action must be involved. This action of creating life maintains a special relationship or bond between a human being and God who should be left to end it. The only Lord with a right over the life of a person is God from the time it begins to the time it ends. Under no circumstance can a person claim to have the right to end or destroy the life of an innocent human.
For this reason, even pregnancies that are due to incest, rape or ones that put the life of a mother in danger are not adequate reasons to allow for an abortion. According to the Catholic Church, abortion amounts to terminating an unborn child or life. Therefore, it is immoral, wrong and sinful. The circumstances for the conception of life are not relevant to the Catholic Church. This is the view for most Catholics because they believe that knowingly, deliberately and willingly committing a sin is not justifiable regardless of how noble or good the cause or intention is. This moral stand is absolute for most Catholics.
How Catholic support its view on abortion
Just like most Christians, Catholics support their view on abortion by citing different verses of the bible. For instance, Catholics argue that abortion was prohibited from as early as at the time of Moses. In Ex. 21:22–24, the bible says that in the event that a pregnant woman is injured and she loses her baby while men are fighting, the offender has to pay a fine that is demanded by the husband of the woman. If the woman sustains a serious injury, life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot action should be taken.
Another verse that is commonly cited by Catholics in supporting their view is the one that emphasizes that unborn children have souls like the older children. David says that he was sinful at birth, since the time he was conceived by his mother. This can be seen in Psalms 51:5. Similarly, James 2:26 says that the body is dead without a spirit. This is because the life principle of human body is the soul. Because from the conception time the body of a child is alive as indicated by the fact that it is growing, the body of a child has a spirit.
When the Catholic view on abortion was declared
On the basis of the arguments of the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II in 1995 declared that the teaching and view of abortion for the Catholic Church was unchanged and could not be changed. Thus, the Catholic Church declared abortion as a means, as an end or willed as a grave moral contrast or disorder because it entails taking an innocent life deliberately. This doctrine has been based on the natural law as well as the God’s word in the bible and it is transmitted by the tradition of the Catholic Church and taught by the universal and ordinary magisterium. However, just like other sins, abortion is forgivable.
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Research Paper on Abortion
- Research Methodology
- Literature review
Traditionally, abortion can be described as 'expulsion of the fetus before it is viable'. This may comprise miscarriage or spontaneous abortion or induced abortion in which someone - the woman herself, a doctor, or a layperson- causes the abortion. Abortion is considered as one of the most controversial, difficult, and painful subjects in the contemporary society. The main controversy revolves around the issues of who executes the decision related to abortion, the state or the individual; under which conditions it could be done; and who is authorized of making the decision. Medical issues like techniques of abortion are considered controversial; however there is sometimes part of debate at a large scale.
Thesis Statement: it is hypothesized that although abortion is regarded as murder of human life in Catholic moral teachings, it sometimes becomes unavoidable due to critical factors like controlling family-size, saving life etc, however; every society and culture has particular ways of confronting unwanted or unplanned pregnancy with abortion.
Concentrating on the issue of abortion and how serious is the problem along with presenting the strategies to encounter the problem the purpose is to construct an applied model inflicting a methodology that permits for penetration of secondary data related to the key aspects of abortion. The abortion issue was not an important predictor when offered to every predictive paradigm.
Selecting an Appropriate Research Methodology
The choice for research methodology is derived from hypothesis about the gravity of abortion and the manner in which its impact could be managed is assessed. From theoretical concept to the practical scenario, the study of abortion issue, its positive and negative impacts along with follow up of different views are specifically challenging tasks. Contributing in and observing behavior of women involved in abortion would thus challenge the researcher with events that highly are compound, continuously altering and are subject to constant re-evaluation in due course.
The analysis of different preventive strategies to show what is being done to confront the problem and opinions of groups on both sides- favoring or opposing- assumes that issue should be properly understood and only then a conclusive argument should be formed backed by extensive research. The empirical study made in this regard suggests adopting a particular design that links understanding gravity of issue with adopting measures to confront the problem. Without studying these significant links and analyzing preventive measures are indeed an act done in isolation.
Abortion- Background- Controversies and Conflicts
Abortion is not a new issue in human society; studies showed that more than three hundred contemporary nonindustrial societies practiced abortion. Abortions had been performed by women on themselves and also experienced abortion at the hands of different persons for thousands of years. Abortions continue to take place today in developing areas under supervision of medical experts and medically primitive conditions. Modern technology as well as social change, however, has made abortion a part of modern healthcare system. Abortion, at the same time, has also become a political issue in some of the societies and a flash point for controversies or disagreements regarding role of women and individual sovereignty in the major decisions of life. Different social responses to abortion range from those of personal and women's immediate circle of friends and family to the community, organizational, and even national levels. Every society and culture has particular ways of confronting with unwanted or unplanned pregnancy and with abortion. Such traditions are altering swiftly in the modern world. (Wicklund, 201)
At the most fundamental level, unplanned pregnancy results from a failure of the complicated and balancing act engaged in by most females (and male) to reconcile two different aspects of their lives; the wish and the sexual intercourse or reluctance to have children. Contraceptive usage could mediate the tension between the two; however contraception is not always available and as such entire methods may fail. People's attempts, however, to reconcile sexual intercourse and the wish for children may not take place in a vacuum. The level of control by a women over the phenomenon whether she has sexual intercourse and over how and when many children she has is mostly impacted by her age, religious and cultural background, and economic and social position in the society. Furthermore, in addition to the long-standing and persistent economic and social disparities between men and women, within and between nations, and a highly inequitable distribution of the resources available in the world, some new and possibly even more weakened social forces have entered the scenario. (Baumgardner 156)
Civil wars, the resurgence of organized genocide, suppressed ethnic rivalries, famine, the virtual collapse of civil communities, and the destruction wrought by AIDS in different nations- all are likely to undermine and disrupt the capability of women and men in controlling their own as well as the lives of their families, including their reproductive lives. The reproductive costs and consequences of sexual intercourse are often far more serious and more lasting for women compared with men. The physical expression related to sexuality is universal and fundamental. What differs is how religious, cultures, and societies influence and construe both the setting in which sexual intercourse between women and men takes place and the nature of relationships in which pregnancy is discouraged or encouraged. Most religious and societies approve of sexual intercourse and eventually childbearing only in the spectrum of marriage and seem to discourage people from possessing sexual partners outside marriage. The ideal for most of the world is that any woman starts to live with a man or marries, they have children together, and the couple performs their best to stay together for the rest of their lives. However, in some societies, men and women have sexual intercourse prior to marriage and between their marriages and also with partner other than their spouse. The level to do so varies within and among nations. (Comm 110)
Abortion creates mix feelings in societies highlighting basic differences as well as conflicting point-of-view compared with most of the public or social health complications. It is a grave concern sensitive to distinctive interpretations with disruptive public policy apprehensions. The fundamental concept that a woman may chose with her consent for abortion is a disturbing idea to a huge segment of society. However, proponents of abortion including human and health rights champions argue that specific laws banning abortion seems to neglect the grave effects of unwanted pregnancies but show only disregard for women's capability for making independent and moral decisions. It is pertinent to mention that abortion has, in fact, existed in almost every society, however, intensely opposed by religions and governments. (Baumgardner 170)
Abortion was legally acknowledged in Europe in the twentieth century with some countries such as Germany and Spain being exception and regards it as illegal. In this context, it is necessary that governments should consider the phenomenon whether to allow or not unsafe abortions that are serious threats not only to the health of women but in several cases relates to survival of women and their families. Proponents of allowing abortions raise the question whether it is legally and morally plausible for the individuals, society, and governments to ignore this human rights issue creating health inequalities intrinsic in the policies and regulations related to abortion existing in several countries. (Cochrane 110)
Advocates of abortion regard it as the deliberate murder of an innocent life and therefore a moral dilemma whether or not legally acceptable. But morality and law are interrelated as such abortion is legally considered as killing a life in several parts of the world. Abortion, however, remains as one of the most significant social and moral issues in the world. One group emphasizes the idea of saving human life as conception at any particular cost to such point of placing life at the top priority to the life of the fetus still to be born over the life of mother. The other group, however, signifies that any woman possesses the right to control her body being an independent soul to the point of preserving her right over the natural fact of development of a new life. (Cochrane 155)
The group having opinion that abortion is morally justifiable and legally acceptable emphasizes that a fetus or embryo not able to survive outside mother's womb should not be considered as a human being different from her mother's body. Others believe that human life only starts with the nervous system. Group opposite to abortion asserts that it is, in fact, illogical when a fetus or an embryo is considered as a separate human life. Some believe that a fetus is not able of self-awareness or thought necessary for human being and as such does not posses a right of survival. (Gorman 88)
The moral dilemma of pregnancy underlies specific reasons related to unplanned pregnancy or deliberate abortions are common in most of the societies. Many women, whether or not married, without intentions of becoming pregnant are also not using any particular contraceptive method. Some of them also use such methods that provide inadequate protection against pregnancy. Furthermore, there are some areas where women have low access to safe contraceptives are not aware from where to obtain them. There is a huge number of couples having inadequate resources and struggling to raise their families. They find it difficult to afford more children and as such acknowledge the phenomenon that any type of unplanned pregnancy could result in a disaster for their family including dependent parents and children. In many developing countries, the idea of unmarried woman having a baby is unacceptable and as such is related to the morality dilemma. (Devereux 178)
Similar to the sexual impulse, the desire to childbearing is almost universal and fundamental. Most of the people desire to have a family at any time in their lives. However, attitudes related to ideal family size and also the best time having children are mostly the outcome of cultural values, social expectations, and economic circumstances. The desire for small families in the modern world has intensified especially in most of the developing nations since the decade of 1970. (Comm 112)
Catholic Moral Teaching on Abortion
The issue of abortion is not new to the society but has always remained a grave concern creating conflict or controversies emerging from the exposure of embryonic human life along with attitudes towards it. Several religions including some denominations inside Christianity have accepted the rule that abortion is killing a human life if it is done after soul have entered human body of a fetus or an embryo. However many popes and church authorities differ in the timing as some of them are of the view of considering it at a particular time such as forty or eighty days whereas others placed the time when the women first develop feeling of fetus movement. It is, however, pertinent to mention that the traditional stance of church has changed with the passage of time as in the past the Catholic Church considered abortion equal to murder and evil, whether any particular abortion is not a murder if only performed to save the life of woman. This opinion or stance of Catholic teaching has been changed from its start in which Church had always remained against the practice of abortion. In other words, the Church had always been involved in controversies related to the laws allowing or favoring abortion. For the Christians in early times, life was regarded as a gift from the God. Through Gospel message, the gift of life eventually received extra value that anticipated the process of birth and excelled death. Famous religions of the world also deal with the issue of abortion. Judaism consider fetus as a human-being not fully developed. As such, to kill a fetus is not considered as a murder in Judaism. Islam, on the other hand, is against abortion allowing it only in circumstances to save life of woman. Hinduism treats abortion as the act of violence while Buddhism considers abortion an act against nature. (Devereux 178)
In Evangelical Churches, abortion is regarded equivalent to infanticide and unnatural. However, a segment of Protestant Churches favors abortion if performed to save life. Even though abortion is not described or criticized particularly in the Gospels of the New Testament, sufficient evidence exist about the sanctity of intrauterine life in Luke, Chapter 1 narrating the story of unborn Christ and also unborn John the Baptist. In fact, abortion was condemned vividly in Christian teaching in 'Didache', being the oldest source of Ecclesiastical law. Didache is the ancient and first century document containing early Christian teachings. The Didache comprises five different parts. One of its chapters (Didache 2:1-2(A.D. 70)) condemns abortion being first act of condemnation as "The second commandment of the teaching: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not seduce boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure (an) abortion, nor destroy a newborn child." Even the Law of Moses imposed strict penalties for abortion and stated that if abortion results in serious injury or death then "take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot". (Eggebroten 172)
After Didache, the explicit condemnation of abortion has remained an integral part of Christian teachings as Pope John Paul II affirmed in the year 1995 that teaching of Church on the subject of abortion remains unchanged and a grave moral disorder. He re-confirmed the stance of Catholic Church on the subject of abortion as killing an innocent human life. Banning of abortion being a direct cause of death of a fetus is an integral component of Christian teachings. However, in the modern science there are certain medical procedures that indirectly result in the death of fetus of embryo. Catholic Churches, in the contemporary world, regard such procedures as a moral option. (O'Neill 145)
Direct Abortion and Acts of God as per Christianity
One of the main features of Christianity teaching is its emphasis on human life that should be protected and is valuable at every stage. Since abortion is meant to end the life, Christianity regards it as a moral disorder. The premeditated or planned killing of a human life, especially an innocent life at its inception is condemned in the Christianity teachings. The deliberate or planned abortion is considered as an abominable crime for which a penalty of excommunication should be given. Traditionally, Catholic Christianity has stressed to maintain absolutes that should not be altered. On the other hand, the role of conscience is also acknowledged by the Catholic Church while making any moral decision which should be informed by worship as well as prayer. (Bender 99)
Direct or deliberate abortion and everyone participating in the act of direct abortion are condemned in the Christian teachings. It is, therefore, necessary to highlight the difference between direct and indirect abortion. Indirect abortion is treating the mother or saving her life causing an abortion. The fifth commandment prohibits direct abortion and everyone cooperating in it. Every one participating in direct or deliberate abortion, including the woman herself has to face the penalty of excommunication as per fifth commandment. The purpose is to respect and protect human-being from the moment of conception. "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. "From the first moment of his/her 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" (Catechism of the Catholic Church: The fifth commandment) Therefore, involvement of individuals in direct abortion is considered as a mortal sin in Catholic teachings as it is committed with awareness of the fact that they are sinful and immoral. (Devereux 112)
Moreover, the artificial methods of contraception are also not allowed in Catholic moral teaching. Contraception includes condoms, contraceptive pills, and sterilization; all of these methods are lethally sinful. As per Catholic teachings during monthly cycles of a woman there comes a time when she is infertile, as such, interfering in this process is considered as intruding in the acts of God. Although contraception is not allowed in Catholic teachings, the responsible attitude of couples is respected and contemporary views allow the phenomenon of family planning. Catholic teachings highlight the sacredness and holiness of life. Every Christian denomination emphasize human life has a soul that is bound to live even after death. It is pertinent to mention that Bible specifically says about humans 'created in God's image' (Genesis 1:27) Jesus was sent by God to show that God values human life. Christianity teachings underline that life has been given by the God and it is He who is authorized to take it away. "The Lord brings death and makes alive: he brings down to the grave and raises up" (1 Samuel 2:6) Abortion means killing a human life, without God's will, is against the teachings of Christianity and against the 6th command; "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13) Life should be protected right from the inception and any act to abort the natural process is against Christianity teachings. "You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish" (Didache) (Dixon-Mueller 176) Another significant aspect is the interference in the acts of God by human-beings. God is the creator of world and no one has the right to interfere in it. As human life is given by God and it is God who can take it back, abortion is considered as an interference and intrusion in God's acts because it deters the natural phenomenon of brining human life into the world and denying the value of human life. (Gorman 91)
The paper has strived to present the theme of abortion. Abortion is defined as 'expulsion of the fetus before it is viable. Furthermore, role of family and relation of family size with pregnancy matters have also been highlighted. After developing the relevant background, efforts have been made to highlight moral dilemma. At the end of paper, some of the Catholic moral teachings have been presented supported by extensive research. On the basis of arguments presented in the paper, it can be asserted that there are positive as well as negative opinions about abortion signifying conflicts and controversies involved in the debate of allowing or disallowing abortion and whether it is morally acceptable or not. Similarly, research made for this paper reveals that Catholic moral teachings regard abortion equivalent to murder.
Baumgardner, Jennifer Abortion & Life Akashic Books, p. 156, 170
Bender, Karen Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion, MacAdam/Cage, 2007, p. 99
Cochrane, Linda Forgiven and Set Free: A Post-Abortion Bible Study for Women Baker Books, 1996, p. 110, 155
Comm, Mary Secret Sin: When God's People Choose Abortion Morgan James Publishing, 2006, p. 69, 112
Devereux, A Study of Abortion in Primitive Society. Julian Press, 1955, p. 112, 178
Dixon-Mueller, Ruth Abortion & Common Sense Xlibris Corporation, 2002, p. 176
Eggebroten, Anne Abortion: My Choice, God's Grace: Christian Women Tell Their Stories Hope Publishing House, 1994, 172
Gorman, Michael Abortion and the Early Church: Christian, Jewish and Pagan attitudes in the Greco-Roman World Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1998, p. 88, 91
O'Neill, Jennifer You're Not Alone: Healing Through God's Grace After Abortion Faith
Communications, 2005, p. 145
Wicklund, Susan This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor Public Affair, 2007, p. 201