Abortion - None Dare Risk Murder

For those who believe that human life begins at conception and that all human life is sacred the issue of abortion is a simple one. Whether based on the natural law or Divine Revelation the taking of innocent pre-born human life is seen as an "unspeakable crime" (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes, 51). 
Others, however, are not so sure. Either they do not know the scientific facts that each human being is a unique biological individual when the parents genetic material combines to form a new being, or, if they do they argue about when that new human life is a person deserving of full legal respect. In the absence of a consensus on when such legal protection ought to begin, they either tolerate, or argue on behalf of, a right to abortion.

Remarkably, in doing so they overlook something quite simple in the moral order, we may not act blindly where human life MIGHT be present. Consider a couple examples which illustrate this principle.

#1. A man hears a noise downstairs in his house. Grabbing his gun he goes down to investigate and enters the darkened room from which the noise emanates. Without ascertaining whether a human being is present, the home owner sprays the room with gunfire, killing his son who was rummaging around looking for something. Is this reasonable behavior? Is it criminally culpable, in either the civil or moral sense?

#2. A man goes out in deer season to bag his limit of bucks. Losing sight of a deer he creeps forward for a shot. When some bushes shake the man fires, assuming it to be the deer. In reality it was another hunter using the bushes for a blind. Is this reasonable behavior? Is it criminally culpable, in either the civil or moral sense?

In both cases the reasonable diligence required for moral action was lacking. In both cases fatal assumptions about the target were made, killing innocent human beings with an absolute right to life. While courts and juries might treat these fatal errors of judgment with some sympathy, not holding the guilty to the full force of the law, the regrets and sense of guilt could stay with the shooters throughout life.

The case of abortion is no different. The doctor, with a mother's permission, enters a darkened room (the womb) and kills what is certainly her biological offspring (child) by any scientific definition. They kill what MIGHT be a human being, even by the criteria of the most liberal proponents of abortion, who at best are uncertain if it is a human life or person, and at worse simply don't care. No individual or society can long survive such moral blindness, since if such callous disregard is exercised with respect to the foundation of the civil order, the inalienable right to life, then all other rights and issues necessarily are less trouble to the conscience. Why respect marriage and family, the justice system, the integrity of the nation and its secrets, and so on. There is little that would be out of bounds to the conscience of the person who is capable of ignoring the simplest moral axioms on the gravest of issues.

Further, consider the regrets of an individual or a nation which later discovers it has sanctioned the murder of the innocent by the palest of moral sophistries. What will be the judgment of their own conscience, of history, of God? Thankfully, we have a merciful God who forgives anything to the repentant, saving strictest justice only for the unrepentant.

Answered by Colin B. Donovan, STL

Apologetics - Doctrine - Canon Law - Eastern Churches - General - History - Liturgy - Moral
NFP - Philosophy - Pro-Life - Scripture - Spiritual