Week of January 21, 2018
This coming Monday (January 22nd) is the “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn” as stated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It’s a day we remember the unfortunate passing of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in this country for any reason and at any time during a woman’s pregnancy. It’s been 45 years since this tragic decision was made, and as I reflect on these past years I believe we have come a long way in our advances of medical science, technology, and knowledge of medicine so much that it becomes harder and harder to justify having such a law on our books or American Constitution.
Back in 1973, medicine and science knew much less about a child’s development in the womb, let alone the risks to mothers who undergo abortion. We did not have all the resources available to help certain poor mothers to carry out their pregnancy to full term either. Today there are many agencies willing to help financially strapped moms make the right decision to carry their pregnancy to full term along with the financial support and counseling to do so. There have also been great advancements in neo-natal care so that certain abnormalities can begin to be corrected and treated even in the womb. There are many agencies with parents willing and able to adopt a child once they are born. More parents, in fact, want to adopt a child than there are American babies available. We also know much more about the physiological and psychological effects and risks that abortion has on those women who choose to have an abortion and end their pregnancy including risks for certain cancers. We also know much more about the child’s development in the womb to say categorically that at certain early stages in pregnancy, these children can and do feel both comfort and pain should abortion be chosen. It’s seems there are less and less people who can claim any ignorance in these matters.
This said, it is important to know that abortion (if freely chosen) is in direct opposition and is in complete conflict with any Christian belief and value system. No Christian denomination can ever justify and support the abortion industry with good conscience. The only exception to this would be if the life of the existing mother is in danger should she carry her pregnancy to full term: a situation that is very rare and uncommon. In these rare cases a medical procedure to save the mother would be justified although it may result in the death of the unborn child. In Catholic Medical Ethics, we call this the “Principle of Double Effect” which is a whole other topic.
This said, we as a Catholic Christian Church must continue to pray that common sense will enter into our legal system or at the very least that mothers (and fathers) will be so much more informed that, although abortion may be legal, it no longer remains a viable option given the knowledge and resources they now have. As a People of God, we must always stand up for those who have no voice and for a child in the womb that has the smallest voice of all, and yet it is the voice of conscience, the voice of God!
Words to live by: “Children may tear up a house, but they seldom break up a home.”
Fr. LeRoy Scheierl