The Contradiction of “Pro-Choice but not Pro-Abortion”

Our beloved Holy Father calls us to let mercy temper our conversations about publicly sanctioned offenses against the 5th, 6th and 9th commandments, particularly abortion, and indeed there is great wisdom in this. This beautiful call should not be misinterpreted as a “softening” of Church teaching on this most vital and basic issue, but a shift in the tone, clarity and charity with which we speak to our opponents. With this in mind, we ought to clarify the moral and intellectual contradiction of claiming one is “pro-choice” but not “pro-abortion” as if this is a morally tenable position, for it is not. We must concede that emotionally this is a statement professed and held by many who have been confused by the bewildering rhetoric of these troubled times, but it would not be charitable to let our confused brethren sit in this contradiction.

The Position of the Enemy

The enemy of God and all His Saints is the bent one who has a vested interest in disorienting us by the misuse of speech. It is fashionable to hold the diabolical contradiction that one can be “pro-choice” but not “pro-abortion” but let it be known that this morally problematic stance proceeds from the father of lies. Human agents tricked into holding this contradiction are not the enemy, Satan is the enemy and our duty is found in charity committed to fraternal correction.

One who illustrates the morally untenable point well in all its illogical refinement is our former president who publically proclaimed that he is “pro-choice” and not pro-abortion. This is absurd coming from the single most pro-abortion president in this country’s history. He would go so far as to support an abortion for his own daughter rather than “see her punished with a baby” in the event of a “sexual mistake.” As abhorrent as this notion is, we must still remember that the human person is in the image and likeness of God and we are to combat the evil of these false notions, not the people themselves who hold them.

The rhetoric justifying abortion has been evolving at an alarming rate. Although “pro-choice” is a euphemism for “abortion” and “abortion” is a euphemism for murder in the womb, it is now impermissible to recognize and publically state that a “pro-choice” person is also one who is at least in some way supportive of abortion. The denial of this connection is due in part by the public assertion that abortion is an undesirable thing but still “rightfully” subordinated to a woman’s “choice.” So to soften the evil of the pro-choice position there is an artificial distinction invented to falsely suggest that pro-choice is a good thing while pro-abortion is a bad thing. The truth is that both are gravely immoral.

If we are going to explain the logical and moral flaws to our “pro-choice” brethren, we must do so on the grounds of truth and rightly ordered reason conveyed with charity. With that in mind, let us uncover the real distinction between the “pro-choice” and “pro-abortion” positions which will reveal a distinction that doesn’t really make much of a moral difference when it comes to moral and principled action.

A True Distinction

There is an objective moral difference between toleration and promotion of a vice. St. Thomas Aquinas said “many things are permissible to men not perfect in virtue, which would be intolerable in a virtuous man.” Thomas clarifies the principle that the state ought not to legislate against all viciousness and must be prudential in its law making. He clarifies the point in article 2 of question 96 as he states: “Now human law is framed for a number of human beings, the majority of whom are not perfect in virtue. Wherefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft and such like.” It is legitimate to bring up this principle in discussions about whether or not there ought to be laws concerning alcohol usage or even such serious things as prostitution, but as Thomas mentioned, a thing like murder of innocents is inappropriate to tolerate or promote.

The Distinction without a Difference

Clearly there is a type of difference between the two positions of “pro-choice” and “pro-abortion” relative to the distinction between toleration and promotion. In general, it is indeed worse to promote a sin than it is tolerate a sin, but in the case of abortion there is an important qualification. Tolerating the sin of abortion is grave matter and promoting it is graver still. When it comes to grave matter that harms the fabric of society, it is not even licit to tolerate it. The fact that so many people believe that to tolerate abortion by a “pro-choice” stance is morally permissible is the result of generations of misuse of speech following the sexual revolution. Most reasonable people can be jarred out of this moral stupor by a simple thought experiment.

Take the “pro-choice” but not “pro-abortion” incongruity and substitute any other violent crime and a clear picture of the contradiction will emerge. Let’s say that when a person says “I am pro-choice” that the “choice” they are referring to is the choice of a man to rape a woman. The argument would go like this: “I don’t personally believe in rape, I would never rape a woman myself, but I believe every man has the right to choose whether or not he will rape a woman, it is his body and he can do with it what he wants, who am I to tell him he cannot rape a woman?, so I am “pro-choice” for a man, but I am not pro-rape.”

Would anyone in their right mind agree with this absurd and gravely immoral line of reasoning? Is it clear that toleration of rape is intolerable? Are there objections to be made by the analogy? In these confused times, of course there are. In the rape scenario the woman victim is analogous to the baby in the womb for the abortion scenario. Fair enough, but which deserves more protection, the woman victim? Or the child in the womb?

The modern world equivocates when it comes to what exactly is in the womb after conception, but this should be simple. When a sperm fertilizes an egg, conception produces an individuated being with his own unique DNA sequence. This is plainly a human person verifiable by science. Using Aristotle’s four causes, we can clearly see that a newly conceived life has a material cause, a formal cause, an efficient cause and a final cause whose substantial form is clearly a human soul. Using common sense we can know that a new born baby that had been in the womb for 9 months was indeed, from the moment of its conception, a human person. Theologically it is revealed to us that each human person is made in the image and likeness of God. So a grown woman is also a person in the image and likeness of God and if the child and woman don’t deserve equal protection, the more innocent and vulnerable of the two is the unborn child.

What is abortion really?

The confusion on the abortion issue is conceived in the collective mind by an abuse of language repeated nearly ad-nauseam in the public square by educators and mass media signaling not just our addiction to false freedom but our acquiescence to the dictatorship of relativism. It is no longer permissible to speak the truth on these matters in public without denigrating reprisals. Yet still, let us as Catholics at least try to continue to make our voices heard for the sake of the unborn souls sacrificed on the altar of free sex.

The word “pro-choice” is a euphemism. It is a dishonest contrivance to say that the unthinkable crime of a woman terminating the life of her unborn child is a right. The misuse of speech is akin to calling a Nazi gas chamber a beauty spa. We rightfully look upon the Aztec human sacrifices with horror and refer to the custom as barbaric, but far worse and more prolific is the western custom of convincing our women that they have a right to kill their own children. We are warned not to use the word “kill” when we talk about this issue because it causes offense, but even this word is too soft if we are going to really call abortion what it truly is.

There are even worse euphemisms for “pro-choice” like “women’s health.” There is nothing healthy or health related about an abortion which kills one patient and emotionally, physically and spiritually scars the other for life. “Pro-choice’s” antecedent is clearly the medical term abortion. The legal antecedent of the medical term is the legal termination of human life in the womb. The moral antecedent is murder in the womb. The ontological antecedent killing an innocent human person. The Biblical antecedent is spilling the blood of Abel, which we must all remember is one of the five sins that cries out to heaven for vengeance.

Heed the Call

The above reasoning is what we ought to teach our children and those closest to us, especially our brothers and sisters in the faith. Armed with the truth, those whom we teach can teach others closest to them. If we listen to our Holy Father we must not lead with the stark truth about what “pro-choice” really means. We must begin with the aim of evangelizing and preaching the Gospel of Life.

The most difficult hurdle in the pro-life discussion with souls accustomed to untruth and the place we must begin is the fact that an unborn child is a human person endowed with certain inalienable rights, most notably the right to life. After we establish the worth of the life of the unborn child, we must follow with the importance of the life and health of the mother. All of our arguments in the public square must flow from the truth about the dignity of all human persons.

We are called to display heroic virtue to protect all human life and especially innocent human life. May God grant us the courage and grace to speak more convincingly and charitably in public about the true nature of abortion. May it be that if we establish the building blocks of intelligibility concerning the dignity and worth of each and every human person, especially the unborn, then perhaps the morally incongruent position of “pro-choice” but not pro-abortion may be exposed for the fraudulent position it is. Let us become warriors for the light of truth by putting on the mind of Christ and the armor of God.

image: Paul Keeling / Shutterstock.com

Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg

By

Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg is a Catholic convert, a catechist, a school teacher, a Catholic writer and speaker on matters of Faith, culture, and education. He holds a degree in History from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Steven is a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative, a regular contributor to the Integrated Catholic Life, a member of the Teacher Advisory Board and writer of curriculum at the Sophia Institute for Teachers, a contributor to Crisis Magazine, The Civilized Reader, The Standard Bearers, Catholic Exchange and a founding member of the Brinklings Literary Club.

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  • John Mulqueen

    What do you do in the case of ectopic pregnancy, one that threatens the life of a mother, and would probably result in a dead foetus? More simply what do you do when a woman’s life is threatened by a foetus, a potential not a real child? What do you do with a nine year old girl who has been impregnated by her step father and whom doctors cannot carry that foetus to term?

  • Larrt

    What are you trying to spin this in to John, these are medical issues, not pro-choice
    issues, the Church has a position, would you have the Church change it’s position
    over your hypothetical situation?
    I think you are looking for a way to justify abortion due to unfortunate circumstances,
    and I agree that your descriptions are unfortunate for anyone that has to deal with the reality of these things, but you know as well as I that abortion is used mostly for birth control, the situations you describe are not common but should have a solution via the medical community and the Church, the real problem is the steady march to the community baby killers when the mothers could have used some method to prevent the pregnancy or moral values that would have prevented the situation!

  • John Mulqueen

    Larrt: They are not hypothetical situations. A 9 year old child in Brazil was raped for years by a step father and became pregnant with twins. Doctors said the child was too small to carry the foetus and would probably die if there was not abortion. Her mother had an abortion performed and was excommunicated by the local cardinal. He did nothing to the rapist because abortion was a more serious offense. A non Catholic woman in Galway Ireland was brought into a hospital with a septic embryo and was told she would die if she tried to give birth. Her husband wanted an abortion performed but the hospital refused because Ireland is a Catholic country. She died. The outrage was so great that Ireland will probably change its constitution to permit abortions. A woman was brought into a Catholic hospital in Pjhoenix in similar condtion. The nun who was the administrator of the hospital signed off on an abortion and excommunicated by the local biship. They are rare cases, but they are real. A nine year old girl is not likely to know about contraception, which the church also forbids.The two women presumably had good moral values. The church has to change its inflexible position. Read The Church and Abortion by George Dennis O’Brien for a discussion of the issues., including the case in Brazil

  • ephphatha

    I hate to see the pro-life movement waste valuable time, energy and resources arguing over false dichotomies, like the difference between the words pro-choice, pro-abortion, toleration, promotion, etc.

    I also hate to see persons with no formal legal or medical education arguing about legal and medical issues. Fortunately, third parties without legitimate credentials to speak on these issues have no legal standing to force women to carry pregnancies to term, just as a lynch mob has no right to cast stones at an adulterous woman. Yet the pro-life movement persists in the stone age as if it forgets or doesn’t care that America has a constitution and that Jesus died on the cross to accomplish what the law could not achieve. Namely forgiveness of sins and righteousness through faith.

  • The First Crusade

    Do you believe that a “potential child” turns into a “real child” by transiting through the birth canal? If not when do you believe it happens?

  • Steven Jonathan

    Dear John,
    For some very odd reason we are fascinated with the exception to the rule and bizarrely swayed by the 1 in 100,000 cases- this is the poorest use of the mind, in fact it is a misuse. A tragic circumstance does not negate a moral principle of truth. An evil may never be done that a good can come from it, this is impermissible. You cannot honestly pretend that we are able to adjudicate the excommunications and injustices done by members of the Church based on a pathological and reductive account with a wholly incomplete set of circumstances can you? It is an insult to decency and the right use of the mind. If you have an reasonalbe question I would be happy to entertain it.
    Perhaps you are not Catholic, but Catholics, philosophers and honest scientists alike know that a fetus is not merely a “potential child” but in fact a human person imbued with a soul in the image and likeness of God. The equivocation is using the word “Potential” and “child” as if the fertilized egg, the fetus and the child were three different things when they are not, they are the same thing at different stages. Just like the child, the adult and the senior citizen are all human persons. Here is where we may begin and end. If you do not understand this simple truth, our conversation is at an end. If you do understand this, then we may proceed with alacrity. A kitschy or pathological end run will get us nowhere.
    Your supposition ifs are also extremely unhelpful. Whether or not a child in the womb may or may not die is not germane to the morality of this entire question. The question of the ectopic pregnancy aside, if there is a dead child in the womb that calls for one response, but if there is a live child in the womb this calls for another. We don’t say such things as “well if the child in the womb has a 70% of dying we can licitly perform an abortion.” This is not moral thinking but calculating and dehumanizing thinking, this is not Catholic. Please let me know if there is actually anything I can help you to understand.

  • John Mulqueen

    Steven:

    Thank you for your thoughtful and intelligent response. I mean that sincerly.I am Catholic. I am in a hurry right now so I have to keep this short. Will try to get back to you later. The Catholic Churdh has never said when a soul enteres a fetus. It refused to do at Vatican 2.I won’t go into the long history of Augustine and Acquinas and other debating when a soul transition from a vegetative to a rational human status, but the issue has vexed the church for 2000 years. The Catholic Church allows for indirect abortions–i.e. removing a cancerous uterus from a pregnant woman even if that indirectly results in the death of a fetus. I have no idea what ou mean by pathological and reductive account. Is killing evil? Yes. Is it sometimes justifiable? Yes. Police can kill to save others so can soldiers so can individuals whose lives are threatened. I have to run. Will get citations to you later.

  • Steven Jonathan

    John,

    Thanks so much for the clarifying response, we have much more to talk about then I had originally surmised- these are indeed important questions about which it is dangerous to know only a little- and of course killing is permissible if it is done because of an imminent threat to innocents or as in the case you discussed, to save a mother’s life when the killing of the fetus is secondary or as Catholic moral theology calls it by the principle of double effect.

    The cases you mentioned in your second post below are snap shots and because they don’t have even the minimum number contextual facts and because we can’t know truly the actors’ intentions, we cannot possibly adjudicate with any accuracy or justice so this is why I would call those examples reductive and beyond that they are indeed heartbreaking and heartbreaking stories make an appeal to our emotions, and rightfully so, but if we leave it at the level of emotions then surely we misjudge and this misjudgment can rightfully be called reductive pathos, thus pathological as opposed to logical or by the principles of ethics. We as Catholics must consider all three, pathos, logos and ethos as we adjudicate the object, context and intentions of a particular moral situation.

    I look forward to hearing more from you John! Peace

  • John Mulqueen

    Steve

    Hi. I am going to dalay a response until tomorrow., I just came back from a day celebrating the 80th, 70th and 60th anniversaries of a group of nuns, including my sister in law. The mass was woinderful, the food great, the dancing fun, the conversation welcome, and the whiskey good. Who wants to dive into the weeds of theoiogy after that.. Tqalk to you tomorrow

    John

  • John Mulqueen

    get back to you tomorrow. see below for ,my reasons

  • John Mulqueen

    Steve Hi. See my comment below on the Church’s position on animation. I would also add that John Noonan in his collection of essays on abortion “The Morality of Abortion” also limits himself to saying that a life created by humans is a human. See his essay “An Almost Absolute Value in History” page 51. Noonon also noted (fn 158 page 46 that Vatican 2 specifically said the time of animation was not touched upon.. I will limit myself to one final citation “The Church and Abortion:A Catholic Dissent” by George Dennis O”Brien who comments on the case of the Brazilian child that moral and legal decision are difficult and can lead to subjectivism but that is why what he calls practical wisdom derived from practice and experience is needed in such cases. I think he is saying the same thing that Francis and others advocate when they talk of the need for discernment, that no rule can be applied to all cases without discernment of all the issues.

    For myself I would say that if I had a9 year old daughter (I have two grown sons) who was rapid and impregnated. I would not hesitate in having an abortion performed.

    Thanks for your time

    John

  • John Mulqueen

    For some reason my response has not appeared. It was rather long. I will summarize. I was making a passing reference to long debate among Catholic theologians about when a human soul enters fetus. The Church has never said. I included a long quote from “Abortion: Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective” by John Connery SJ, 1977. who pointed that the Church has legislated penalties against abortion but legislation is not teaching and the Church has never taught immediate animation or ensoulment see page 212 and 308. I am sorry for not retyping the whole quote but if you need them I will do it. I accept the fact that a fetus is a human being from the moment of conception. I don’t understand why the Church resists saying that animation takes places then. See comment above about John Noonan’s statements.

  • scragsma

    In all the circumstances you refer to, abortion is impermissible. First, we must clarify that the term ‘abortion’ used without qualification usually means a deliberately procured termination of a healthy pregnancy by the death of the unborn child. This makes sure we exclude miscarriages. In an ectopic pregnancy, where the mother’s life is threatened, it is often possible to continue the pregnancy under close observation to the point where the child can be delivered by C-section. Where this isn’t possible, treatment of the inflamed tissue to save the mother is permissible, even though it is foreseen (though not directly intended) that this will result in the death of the child. In addition, there have been attempts to develop a technique by which an ectopic pregnancy can be moved into the uterus, and some have been successful. The same logic can be applied to any other situation where the mother’s life is in danger and the treatment of the threat may cause the child to die — in all cases, the moral thing to do is try to protect both mother and child, managing the pregnancy in hopes of prolonging it as long as possible so the child might be delivered prematurely but still survive. And similarly for the 9-year-old, with proper treatment it may be possible. If it isn’t, then whatever treatment is necessary may be administered, but the direct intention of killing the child is never acceptable.

  • scragsma

    I’m not sure why the point of ‘animation’ is pertinent. To begin with, we don’t and can’t ever know when it is. This is one of many things we have no need to know, and certainly won’t ever know in this life, and possibly not in the next. It just doesn’t matter. Discussing it is similar to discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Who cares?

  • John Mulqueen

    I tend to agree but it was argued for almost two thousand years. Prof O’Brien refers to it and likes the idea of using it.

  • scragsma

    The situation you describe from Ireland wasn’t what you describe. The woman’s condition had nothing to do with her pregnancy and wouldn’t have been improved by an abortion. It was reported falsely in the media. The Phoenix situation was the same – the abortion was NOT necessary to save the woman’s life. The case in Brazil was more valid, but if I remember correctly the only issue was that the 9-year-old’s pelvis was too small for a normal delivery to take place – but even then it may have been possible to continue the pregnancy long enough for the child to be viable, and delivered via C-section.

  • John Mulqueen

    I will bow to more accurate reporting but note the outrage in Ireland is leading to a change in the country’s legislation. I read that the Church retained two doctors to review the Brazilian child’s case and they said she might have been able to carry the fetus until a C section could be performed. One of those doctors I read was a priest, so I discard his opinion automatically. I don’t have any information about the other doctor. In any case I would not accept the opinions of doctors retained by a church which is adamantly opposed to abortion. I would not subject a child of mine to such a pregnancy. It is obscene.

  • John Mulqueen

    This is interesting but does not deal with the issue of terminating a pregnancy when it threatens a woman’s life. A 9 year old should not be forced to under go a pregnancy.Period

  • The First Crusade

    The Church has taught since the 1st century A.D. that abortion is morally evil and still teaches today that human life must be protected from conception:

    “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.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church

    The question of when “ensoulment” occurs is another matter. I believe St. Thomas had the opinion, following Aristotle, that the soul entered the unborn child at 4 months, but that would not mean he would have sanctioned abortion in the first trimester.

    But today we know that life begins at conception from modern embryology which was nonexistent in those days.

    So if you agree that the unborn are human beings from conception, you cannot also believe that it is acceptable to destroy them.

  • John Mulqueen

    Yes Augustine and Acquinas and a slew of other theologians thought that ensoulment took place for males at 4 months and for females several ,months after that. You are right the church and they disapproved of abortion, although interestingly they did not consider abortion before ensoulment to be homicide, as I understand the very confusing thoughts. Modern science tells us nothing about ensoulment, as the comment by Scragsma notes we cannot know that It does tell us that a human has been created. I do believe that is legitimate to destroy an embryo that is threatening the life of a mother. Sometimes killing is allowed, e.g. to save the life of an innocent. I also include the case of a raped 9 year old, or for that matter any rape victim, no matter her age

  • The First Crusade

    According to Aquinas, the soul is simply the form of the body, what makes it alive. And from embryology, we know that life begins at conception, since the zygote instantly begins to grow by subdivision. So I think it is reasonable to conclude that “a human has been created” at that point, and that is what the Church teaches.

    I agree with you that there are circumstances where killing a human being is permitted, however in the case of a child conceived in rape, the child itself is innocent and it is not morally acceptable to destroy it. If someone has to be killed, it should be the rapist since he is guilty.

  • John Mulqueen

    From my readomg the Church does not teach that animation, ensoulment begins immediately at conception. fr. Connery in his book, (see the citation in the discussion from the other day) in fact says that the Church has never taught that, the Vatican 2 refused to do so. Piux IX in 1869 ruled there was no distinction between an animated and unanimated fetus. It became Canon Law in 1917 that abortion called for excoimmunication whatever the stage of fetal development page 212 “This is legilation, not teaching.Distinction the Church makes, or does not make, in regard to penalties do not constitute church teaching. So while it is true that the Church today penalizes abortion at any stage, it would be wrong to conclude from this that it teaches immediate animation or infusion of a rational soul in the fetus. This it has never done….The only opinion the Church has ever condemned ws that which identified animation with the time of birth.It has never thought immediate animation. Even Vatican 2 resisted such a teaching when condemning abortion.” page 308. Noonan (page 46, footnote 158 said that Vatican 2 did not touch on animation. I have to admit the you would think that if it is a human being it has a human soul. Could it be that the Church realizes that a fertilze eggs sometimes splits, and then what happens, is the sould split, is a new soul created at the split, does each new fertilzed egg have half a soul? Difficult questions. Probably best avoided. I understnd a child conceived in rape is innocent, but it can still violate the mother’s person I would leave up to her to decide if she wants to carry it to term. I could not condemn if she does not.

  • The First Crusade

    “Vatican 2 did not touch on animation. I have to admit the you would think that if it is a human being it has a human soul.”

    It didn’t touch on animation, but nevertheless Gaudium et spes maintained that “For God, the Lord of life, has conferred on men the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life in a manner which is worthy of man. Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.” p.51

    I have to correct what I said earlier, Aquinas, following Aristotle was of the opinion that the soul was infused at 40 and 80 days (for male and female respectively) and not 4 months. They had no knowledge of embryology or genetics and had to go by the physical appearance only. Today we know that life begins at conception, when the zygote is formed by the parents’ gametes and becomes a distinct human being with its own distinct genome. Nevertheless the medieval and earlier theologians would never have sanctioned abortion even before their supposed ensoulment at 40/80 days. So the Church rightly condemns abortion today as intrinsically evil, just as it did in the time of Aquinas and all the way back to the time of Our Lord.

    “Even if the presence of a spiritual soul cannot be ascertained by empirical data, the results themselves of scientific research on the human embryo provide a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of the first appearance of a human life: How could a human individual not be a human person?” Evangelium Vitae

    “I understnd a child conceived in rape is innocent, but it can still violate the mother’s person I would leave up to her to decide if she wants to carry it to term. I could not condemn if she does not.”

    If it is an innocent child, then there are no circumstances in which it can be deliberately killed (i.e murder). If the unborn are human, it is not morally acceptable to kill them, but if they are not human, why restrict abortion to cases of rape which account for 1% or less than all abortions?

  • John Mulqueen

    i agree with all of this. It does not alter the fact that the church does not and has not taught that animation begins at conception, even if it recognizes for legalistic reasons that it a human, i.e. so it can impose penalties. Again what happens to a fertilzied eggs that splits? What happens to the soul? There was disagreement thgroughout the middle ages about the permissibler of abortion for unaminated fetus—eg John Naples Dominican (Connery page 306) We obviously disagree about rape. It is a matter of discretion. I would allow it. I would not allow many other abortions, e.g. choosing a sex, eliminating a down syndrome child.

  • The First Crusade

    Well, if you agree, then you cannot also say that abortion is a matter of discretion. Either human life begins at conception and it is evil to destroy it intently or it doesn’t and can then be destroyed according to the mother’s will or any other circumstance.

    I don’t see how abstract theological discussions or the opinion of particular dominicans and jesuits can overrule the deposit of faith and magisterium.

  • John Mulqueen

    I can agree that a fetus is a human life. I do. But I would not let a 9 year old child go through a pregnancy. And if a woman has been raped I think she has the right to eliminate the fetus. It is her body,, her life. That is where discretion and moral choices come in. If the church was so sure about the presence of a human soul at conception why doesn’t it say so unequivocallu, instead of relying on logical deducations.
    The magesterium can change. It is a human construct. It was wrong tor two millenia about the soul, it was wrong about Jews being Christ killers, etc.

    I guess we pick and choose which abstract theological discussions we value. My point in citing that 14th century theologian was to show that there has always been uncertainty, questions about even this hotly debated issue.

    Thanks for the comments. It has been helpful and informatiive, miuch better than many irrational barrage of charges and insults.

  • The First Crusade

    “Thanks for the comments. It has been helpful and informatiive, miuch better than many irrational barrage of charges and insults.”

    Yes, thank you 🙂

    “I can agree that a fetus is a human life. I do. But I would not let a 9
    year old child go through a pregnancy. And if a woman has been raped I
    think she has the right to eliminate the fetus. It is her body,, her
    life
    .”

    Isn’t that a contradiction? If the fetus is a human being, it is distinct from the mother and has a right to life.

    If it is not a human being and part of the mother, it does not have a right to life and abortion should be legal.

  • John Mulqueen

    One of the conundrums. It is a human but not distinct from the mother, certainly not in the early stages of life. It depends on the mother for sustenance for some period of time, which seems to be getting shorter with medical advances. But even with that I don’t see how we get around a child being forced to carry a fetus to term or to some point when a C section could be performed. A friend a former nun said she would perform a C section on the man who proposed that. Also a woman still has rights to her own life and body that conflict with the idea of a human fetus. Maybe it can’t be resolved.

  • The First Crusade

    Let’s say a woman is abducted by a rapist who imprisons her in a basement. She conceives and gives birth to a child. When the child is a week old she is freed by police.

    Should ot be legal to kill the infant? If not, why? A week old is also dependent on its mother for survival.

  • Steven Jonathan

    John,

    This was a very interesting discussion and I wish I had been more a part of it. I believe it would take far too long to straighten out everything on posts here and a face to face with a faithful priest would be the best idea. But a couple of things for sure- 1. The World is a Liar- 2. The question of ensoulment is scientific not moral and really has no bearing concerning the morality of terminating the life in the womb. 3. O’brian is a sophist, a clever sophists, but a sophists nontheless. 4. Dissent from Church teaching is a bad thing, one full of dangers for the immortal sou. 5- no Doctrine or Dogma of the Catholic Church has or ever can be changed- if you believe the Magisterium changes what Christ taught you are wrong no matter what the professors say, Church teaching is immutable. The prohibition against the killing of innocents is absolulte. 6. A 9 year old getting pregnant is not an absolute- it can and will happen where there are immoral men. The absolute in this scenario is that the man has behaved in a gravely immoral way, the pregnancy that follows has nothing to do with our moral outrage, though outraged we must be.

    So John, there are many things that need straightening out, I wish we had face to face time to do that. You are a brave and honest soul to come put it out here as you did and you are a gentleman for comporting yourself so well. I wish you the best of luck!

  • John Mulqueen

    Steve

    Thank. I disagree with everything you said. O’Brien is not a sophist. Disagreeing with Church teaching is not a bad thing, it is what thinking people do. Church Dogma has, can and will change, read Noonan. Thank you for all the comments, they are straight forward and honest.

    John

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