Pelosi’s Sloppy Research-Part III

What did the doctors of the Church really say about abortion?

Excerpted from Catholidoxy

Since we’ve brought up Humanae Vitae, note that Pelosi implies there was all this grey area in the Christian tradition until “maybe 50 years” ago or so, as if Paul VI pulled Humanae Vitae out of thin air. He was codifying the consensus of centuries of tradition in the face of radical and novel cultural pressures.

(2) She asserts that abortion involves considerations “that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god.” Note how individualistic and thus anti-Catholic this claim is. She does not mention any priest. She seems to think of a woman in isolation considering this option in terms of her conscience understood as what she as an individual feels is right, not a conscience captive to Christ and formed by the teachings of the Church.

(3) She asserts contraception would lead to fewer abortions. Contraception is also a grave evil in Catholic thought, but we shouldn’t be surprised she rejects that. What we should point out is the intuitive but false claim that increased contraception leads to decreased abortion. Since the 1960s, when the Pill was introduced and contraception in general more widely accepted as normative, abortion rates soared even as more and more women used contraception. It’s true that any particular act of intercourse involving contraception has a much lower possibility (“risk”) of pregnancy. But on a broader, cultural level, the mentality that permits contraception permits also abortion as contraception. Contraception divorces sex from babies and thus makes them an often unwanted byproduct of orgasm and thus leads to the phenomenon of abortion in culture.

(4) If we don’t know when life begins, as Pelosi expressly says, shouldn’t we outlaw abortion? For, in our ignorance, we may be killing human persons. Shouldn’t we err on the side of caution?

(5) Given Pelosi’s, assumptions, why should we be concerned to lower the abortion rate? Why should they be rare?


2 Responses

  1. Having been Catholic all my life, I firmly believe that abortion is a horrendous sin. I do think that I learned, somewhere along the way, that the Church does “allow” (don’t like the word here, but can’t think of better) an abortion if, AND ONLY IF, the mother’s life is in grave danger — the reason is that life needs to be protected, and if the mother is in danger of death, then saving her takes precedence. Am I wrong?

  2. Yes I am afraid that you were taught wrong. We never do evil that good may come. However, either you or your teachers may have misunderstood the following sort of circumstances.

    There are instances in which it is legitimate for an expectant mother to undergo certain medical or surgical procedures that will save her life, even if these procedures inevitably involve the death of her unborn child. In these cases it is not a question of intentionally aborting the child. They involve, rather, accepting the loss of the child as an unavoidable consequence of caring for the mother´s health.

    The clearest and surest example is the ectopic pregnancy. As everyone knows, should the fetus become lodged in the oviduct or fallopian tube, its continued growth will result in the death of both child and mother. A normal and proper procedure in this case is the removal of the fallopian tube, from which the death of the unborn child inevitably follows. In this case the death of the child is not sought, nor is the mother´s life saved by the child´s dying.

    This is not an abortion. Quite simply, the mother´s life is saved by the surgical removal of the oviduct, not by the death of her child. If this reasoning is too subtle for some American minds to follow, well, the available evidence suggests that just about any coherent thinking these days is too subtle for some American minds to follow.

    A similar dilemma would arise in the case of an expectant mother diagnosed with uterine cancer. The death of the child obviously would result from the removal of the cancerous organ, but it is not the death of the child that is deliberately sought, nor is the mother´s life saved as a result of the child´s death. This is not an abortion in the sense used by moral theology; it is just a standard application of the ethical principle known as “double effect.”

    The assertion that “the Church teaches that the mother must be saved,” -NO, strictly speaking, this is not true either; such a very tough medical decision is normally a matter of the mother´s choice, and I am familiar with no teaching of the Church that would oblige a mother´s conscience to value her own life over her child´s. The mother´s life is not intrinsically of greater value than the child´s, and every mother known to me, if the choice were ineluctable, would value her child´s life above her own.

    It is interesting to observe that the Roman Catholic Church recently honored with canonical beatification a woman who died in 1962 in consequence of choosing not to undergo the surgical procedure just mentioned. Even though she knew that it would result in her death, Gianna Molla carried her baby to term and then died a week later. Her little girl grew up and was on hand in St. Peter´s Square to see her mother raised to the dignity of the altar.
    From CatholicNet

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