In answering this, I am assuming that you are referring to a direct abortion, which is the deliberate and intentional killing of an unborn baby in the womb, because that is precisely what abortion is. Without question, this is one of the gravest moral issues facing us today.
The Catholic Church has always taught that “human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever 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” (CCC 2258).
From the advances in science, we now know that a baby’s life does not begin on the day of birth, but rather at conception. This is what makes abortion, when it is done with full knowledge and intention, a mortal sin taking the life of an innocent human being. Why do people have a hard time seeing this? It seems that today so much of the world is in some sort of blindness about the gravity of abortion. Ask yourself the following, however: how many people could kill a live baby if you placed the infant in front of them and asked, “Can you kill your child now?” I doubt that many could or would do such a thing. Then why is abortion acceptable?
We know that of course there exist many circumstances surrounding every kind of sin, and this is certainly true about abortion. Sometimes fear, pressure, shame, or ignorance can lead a person to make horrible mistakes or take the most unspeakable actions. The thing to remember always is that God sees our heart, soul and mind. He knows if we are innocent or guilty. Reminding us of the Fifth Commandment, Jesus said, “You shall not kill…whoever kills will be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:21).
When we commit a mortal sin, by our own action we have cut ourselves off from God. It is not God who turns away from us, but we who turn away from Him. You ask if your friend will go to hell or if God will forgive her. Everything we know about God tells us that He is a God of infinite love and mercy. He is also, however, a God of justice. We sometimes do not want to be reminded of that. Yes, God will forgive, but first your friend must ask for this forgiveness, and if the action was deliberate, then some reparation will have to be made. But you see, if she is truly and deeply sorry in her heart, then she will gladly and willingly want to do this.
Hell is the place reserved for those who have outright rejected God and persist in this until the end (CCC #1037). So many people are keeping themselves separated from the love and mercy of God because they say they fear He will not forgive them, but that is not true of God. Perhaps what they really fear is His demand for justice, not realizing that love, mercy and justice go together. Sometimes there is a lack of desire to make the changes in one’s life in order to turn away from sin. The very best you can do for your friend, if you are close enough to do so in a loving way, is to help her to come to the realization of the moral gravity of abortion. Then, guide and encourage her towards the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where Jesus Christ is waiting to meet her with open arms.
© Copyright 2004 Grace D. MacKinnon
For permission to reprint this article, or to have Grace speak at your event, contact Grace MacKinnon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grace MacKinnon holds an MA in theology and is a syndicated columnist and public speaker on Catholic doctrine. Her new book Dear Grace: Answers to Questions About the Faith is available in our online store. If you enjoy reading Grace’s column, you will certainly want to have this book, which is a collection of the first two years of “Dear Grace.” Faith questions may be sent to Grace via e-mail at: email@example.com. You may also visit her online at www.DearGrace.com.