ABC is not intrinsically evil when medical reason_1


#1

After all threads I have read here and consulting some people I still can’t understand this issue. When a pregnancy would put at risk the life of a person (woman A) the only way allowed by the Church to cope with this situation is to abstain from sex or the use of NFP. If NFP does not work for her the only moral solution for that woman is to abstain from sex.

We all know that contraception and sterilization are not allowed unless the contraception is not directly intended but results as a secondary effect. That is the case of sterilization for medical reasons to remove, for instance, a cancerous uterus. The same case applies to the use of hormones for therapy that as consequence render a woman sterile. This is call indirect sterilization (temporal or definitive).

Direct sterilization (sterilization to prevent a risky pregnancy) is not allowed because it is not necessary for the health of the woman. The woman could use NFP or just abstain from sex to prevent a risky pregnancy. The idea here is that one can not do evil that good might come from it. And one does evil when intentionally separates the two aspects of the sexual act. But I would like to think again if the use ABC in this case (serious risk for the woman) is really intrinsically evil. According to some theologians and Church’s officials it is not.

The Church allows (as already happened in the past) to a nun (our “woman B”) to use non-abortifacient contraception in case of possibility of rape. The idea is to defend her from an external attack that could lead to a pregnancy as a consequence of a non-free sexual intercourse. In this case this temporal direct sterilization is not seen as intrinsic evil because the woman is not engaged in a FREE sexual relation and the contraceptive act is seen as a self-defense act. She does not want any relationship an neither to contracept. This act of contraception is not considered evil because the circumstances and the **intention **of the person. There is not separation of the two aspects of the marital act because there is not marital act. But, still, she impairs her natural reproductive functions. The difference between the two women cases is about “the how” the pregnancy could take place and this defines the morality of the contraceptive act.

Impairing one’s reproductive functions by itself might be, therefore, not intrinsically evil. The problem, as we see here, is the reason, the circumstances and what the intentions to do it are. It is intrinsically evil ONLY when intended intentionally to separate the unitive and procreative aspects of the marital act or when it is seen as a simple act of mutilation.

But consider again “woman A”: she does not want to contracept, she does not want to separate the two aspects, she probably would even like to have more children. All what she wants is to avoid for once or temporally the possibility of a danger for her life that could come from a free or not so free relation ship (by the way, how free is one to get or not involved in a “medical safe” sexual relationship with his/her partner with whom one lives and sleeps every day?). In medicine the right term used is “prophylaxis”. But the Church only accepts the term “therapeutics” as a medical approach to the problem. “Woman A” would use temporal or definitive sterilization as an act of self-defense to prevent that her reproductive function would kill her. The primary intention would not be contraception by itself. Contraception could, therefore, be seen in this case as a secondary effect when prophylactically the woman’s health is protected. That is MEDICAL use of ABC.

Continue… in part 2


#2

Josea,

I would say that whoever gave the nun the “emergency contraceptives” (really an early abortion since fertilization could have occurred) was not doing so in according to church teaching. You can’t really assume that just because a religious person does something or condones it (even a bishp or cardinal for that matter) that it is in line with the teaching of the Church.

-Tim


#3

just because some catholic official or theologian says it is ok…does not mean that church teaching changes. 1. church teaching can never change…so no matter how you try to justify the use of ABC, it will always be evil as the catechism states…this is something that not even the pope can change, even if he wanted to… so this should be the end of the arguement…it is infallable…end of story…

but for sake of arguement…just think about it…even if their was a risk of dying if you concieved…does that mean you can use contraception??? no way!!!..if you learn about the female body, contraception, disorders…you will learn a few things…

  • a lifethreatening situation for the mother during pregnancy is sooooo rare that it is almost not even worth arguing about
  • nfp is wayyyy more effective than ABC, so why would you even consider using ABC anyway
  • what kind of woman would rather save her life and kill her baby anyway??? I would rather leave it in God’s hands…if God willed me to die and save my baby, or my baby dies and I live…it is all God’s will…not mine.
  • and if the situation came up…yes I would much rather abstain from sex (if I didn’t trust nfp), than to use contraception (especially since it is a grave sin)…I could either trust in God’s plan and continue to have sex, or offer up my chastity to God.
  • i just would never want to have to stand in front of God and try to justify and explain to him why contraception was ok and not evil…and why I would rather go against his (church) teaching and take things into my own hands.

#4

[quote=timbo1980]Josea,

I would say that whoever gave the nun the “emergency contraceptives” (really an early abortion since fertilization could have occurred) was not doing so in according to church teaching. You can’t really assume that just because a religious person does something or condones it (even a bishp or cardinal for that matter) that it is in line with the teaching of the Church.

-Tim
[/quote]

Emergency contraceptives in the case of rape are moral as long as an appropriate effort is made to ensure that ovulation has not yet occured so as to reduce the possibility of aborting a new life.

To the original poster, I think it is difficult to term the act you have described as self-defense. In the case of a rape there is an unjust aggressor. In the case of a married couple, there is no unjust aggressor. You state that “it is intrinsically evil ONLY when intended intentionally to separate the unitive and procreative aspects of the marital act…” and you are entirely correct. In the case of the women who could be harmed by pregnancy, the intention would still be to separate the unitive and procreative aspects. Granted there may be a good intention, but the act remains intrinsically evil.


#5

The assessed potential life threatening risks (to mother and/or baby) associated with a future pregancy is not in itself a “medical neccessity” reason to introduce ABC drugs/measures. Anyone can find a “theologian” or Church authority to made a “medical exception” case for the introduction of ABC. The procreative potential is always an intrinsic good, and other licit measures are a present option (even if last resort marital abstinence): “an evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself . . . one may not do evil that good may result from it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1755-1756).

See below for authoritative statements by the Church specifically addressing this issue, and a couple prior forum threads that have discussed this same issue.

“The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions* on the part of the spouses do not justify** recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).”* (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2399)

“Contraception is to be judged so profoundly unlawful as to be never, for any reason, justified.* To think or to say the contrary is equal to maintaining that in human life, situations may arise in which it is lawful not to recognize God as God*.” (Pope John Paul II L’Osservatore Romano, October, 10, 1983)

It is not licit*, even for the gravest reasons***, to do evil so that good may follow there from”(Humanae Vitae).

[font=Verdana]“. . .the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children . . . Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.” (Humanae Vitae)[/font]

Birth control for very serious reasons

birth control not used for contraception


#6

**

Impairing one’s reproductive functions by itself might be, therefore, not intrinsically evil. The problem, as we see here, is the reason, the circumstances and what the intentions to do it are. It is intrinsically evil ONLY when intended intentionally to separate the unitive and procreative aspects of the marital act or when it is seen as a simple act of mutilation

. **
Here is the flaw in your reasoning. The act is in and of itself intrinsicially evil. The principle of double effet is a mitigation of guilt because the contraceptive effect is unintended and lesser than the negative effect if the ABC (not used as ABC but has the secondary effect) is not used. Re-read the documents about this. The official teaching is that it would be licit…not that they act is moral.

Under the Mercy,

Matthew


#7

Another recent reference:

“The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable.”

[RIGHT]—“Vademecum for Confessors Concerning Some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life”[/RIGHT]


#8

Thanks for your answers.

But there is something that nobody commented about. Why can ABC not be used as a medical treatment called prophylaxis? As I said the reproductive function of a person can be ill and its use could lead to death. Today people are using surgery (mastectomy= surgical removal of a breast) to avoid breast cancer even before it is present when there is a risk. Why can not we do the same with the reproductive organs? The death risk is there independently of if you are married or not, have free or not so free marital relations or if you are raped!

This is indeed a self-defense act as when one needs amputation for medical reasons. **Amputation can also be performed as prophylaxis! **

What is the problem with that?

[font=Arial][size=3]Regards,

Jose

[/size][/font]


#9
  • a lifethreatening situation for the mother during pregnancy is sooooo rare that it is almost not even worth arguing about.

My wife,a s many women, is in that danger. We can not play with it.

  • nfp is wayyyy more effective than ABC, so why would you even consider using ABC anyway.

Because my wife can not distinguish her fertility signs by temperature or cervical mucus. And you are totally wrong: a complete sterilization does the job, or the combination of several ABC methods.

[quote=Seven Sorrows]- what kind of woman would rather save her life and kill her baby anyway??? I would rather leave it in God’s hands…if God willed me to die and save my baby, or my baby dies and I live…it is all God’s will…not mine.
[/quote]

I am not talking about abortion here.

[quote=Seven Sorrows]- and if the situation came up…yes I would much rather abstain from sex (if I didn’t trust nfp), than to use contraception (especially since it is a grave sin)…I could either trust in God’s plan and continue to have sex, or offer up my chastity to God.
[/quote]

What I say is that in that case contraception or sterilization can be seen as a medical treatment to prevent death no matter if one is free or not in having sexual relations. I say that in that case it is not “intrinscially evil”, so the situation “the goal does not justify the means” does not apply here.

  • i just would never want to have to stand in front of God and try to justify and explain to him why contraception was ok and not evil and why I would rather go against his (church) teaching and take things into my own hands.

While the general Church’s position about ABC is clear and irreformable, there are some details that have not being specifically, clearly and definitively addressed. These particular cases might fall into the situation in which the use of sterilization or ABC might not be intrinscally evil. That is why there is still some discussion about the problem and different interpretations. The Church needs to go to the specific case and make it clear. As I have not found any documents apart from the typical ones dealing with the general position of the Church about the issue (HV, etc…) and so many different opinions about our particular case I decided to ask some Curch officials. The Church has to make clear in a document that in case of death danger for the woman and when no NFP method works for that woman the use of ABC is still intrisically evil and can not be considered as a medical solution for the problem. That is why I went to important Church officials to ask. I could stand in front of God with clean consciousness of having done what I could to solve our problem. The Church has the problem, not me, because it allows different interpretation of this issue among different people. I insist, it is not about the indiscriminate use of ABC, but about considering the “prophylactic” use as the same level as the “therapeutic” use of ABC allowed in the HV.

Regards,

Jose


#10

The big question here is why the Church does not accept as licit the “switching off” of the reproductive function when the preventive medicine so advice it.

That should not be considered “intrinsic evil” at all. And so it is thought by many Church authorities. Here the sentence “the goal does not justify the means” does not apply because the mean is not evil by itself if used for medical reasons. On top of it one does not freely use this medical treatment to separate the two aspects of the sexual act but to safe the life of the woman if a sexual act would take place: one does not want to contracept. It is a medical necessity independently of how free the sexual relations are. It happens constantly in preventive medicine regarding other organs and functions and this medical treatment should be taken independently of whether or not one has sexual relations. This can not be intrinsic evil. Mutilation is intrinsic evil but amputations required by medical reasons are not. Amputation advised by preventive medicine is neither intrinsic evil, so should not be temporal or definitive sterilization in this case.

Jose


#11

[quote=josea]The big question here is why the Church does not accept as licit the “switching off” of the reproductive function when the preventive medicine so advice it.

That should not be considered “intrinsic evil” at all. And so it is thought by many Church authorities. Here the sentence “the goal does not justify the means” does not apply because the mean is not evil by itself if used for medical reasons. On top of it one does not freely use this medical treatment to separate the two aspects of the sexual act but to safe the life of the woman if a sexual act would take place: one does not want to contracept. It is a medical necessity independently of how free the sexual relations are. It happens constantly in preventive medicine regarding other organs and functions and this medical treatment should be taken independently of whether or not one has sexual relations. This can not be intrinsic evil. Mutilation is intrinsic evil but amputations required by medical reasons are not. Amputation advised by preventive medicine is neither intrinsic evil, so should not be temporal or definitive sterilization in this case.

Jose
[/quote]

From Felra:

“The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions* on the part of the spouses do not justify** recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).”* (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2399)

“Contraception is to be judged so profoundly unlawful as to be never, for any reason, justified.* To think or to say the contrary is equal to maintaining that in human life, situations may arise in which it is lawful not to recognize God as God*.” (Pope John Paul II L’Osservatore Romano, October, 10, 1983)

It is not licit*, even for the gravest reasons***, to do evil so that good may follow there from”(Humanae Vitae).


#12

This sounds like fundamentalism. I think it should not be considered intrinsic evil to amputate or impare a organic function if, NO MATTER THE CAUSE, its function could lead to the death of the person. Just imagine if that person is raped or drunk and get involved in a sexual relation. I am not talking about contraception I am talking about a preventive medical intervention.
This should be clarified by the Church.
Jose


#13

[quote=josea]This sounds like fundamentalism. I think it should not be considered intrinsic evil to amputate or impare a organic function if, NO MATTER THE CAUSE, its function could lead to the death of the person. Just imagine if that person is raped or drunk and get involved in a sexual relation. I am not talking about contraception I am talking about a preventive medical intervention.
This should be clarified by the Church.
Jose
[/quote]

The ten commandments are fundamentalism. The truth is the truth. We may never to evil even if for a “good” reason.


#14

[quote=josea]What I say is that in that case contraception or sterilization can be seen as a medical treatment to prevent death no matter if one is free or not in having sexual relations. I say that in that case it is not “intrinscially evil”, so the situation “the goal does not justify the means” does not apply here.
Jose
[/quote]

Your (and mine) opinion and redefinition and erroneous conclusions do not matter. What the Church authoritatively teaches is what matters and your (mine) assent or not. You cannot make an “intrinsic evil” into a pre-moral/amoral/non-moral act. Intrinsic evil is *by its nature evil. *The intent or function of an act does not remove the nature of an act. So yes, this still applies: “an evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself . . . one may not do evil that good may result from it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1755-1756).


#15

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1750 The morality of human acts depends on:

  • the object chosen;
  • the end in view or the intention;
  • the circumstances of the action.
    The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the “sources,” or constitutive elements, of the morality of human acts.

1751 The object chosen is a good toward which the will deliberately directs itself. It is the matter of a human act. The object chosen morally specifies the act of the will, insofar as reason recognizes and judges it to be or not to be in conformity with the true good. Objective norms of morality express the rational order of good and evil, attested to by conscience.

1752 In contrast to the object, the intention resides in the acting subject. Because it lies at the voluntary source of an action and determines it by its end, intention is an element essential to the moral evaluation of an action. The end is the first goal of the intention and indicates the purpose pursued in the action. The intention is a movement of the will toward the end: it is concerned with the goal of the activity. It aims at the good anticipated from the action undertaken. Intention is not limited to directing individual actions, but can guide several actions toward one and the same purpose; it can orient one’s whole life toward its ultimate end. For example, a service done with the end of helping one’s neighbor can at the same time be inspired by the love of God as the ultimate end of all our actions. One and the same action can also be inspired by several intentions, such as performing a service in order to obtain a favor or to boast about it.

1753 A good intention (for example, that of helping one’s neighbor) does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means. Thus the condemnation of an innocent person cannot be justified as a legitimate means of saving the nation. On the other hand, an added bad intention (such as vainglory) makes an act evil that, in and of itself, can be good (such as almsgiving).[39]

1754 The circumstances, including the consequences, are secondary elements of a moral act. They contribute to increasing or diminishing the moral goodness or evil of human acts (for example, the amount of a theft). They can also diminish or increase the agent’s responsibility (such as acting out of a fear of death). Circumstances of themselves cannot change the moral quality of acts themselves; they can make neither good nor right an action that is in itself evil.


#16

[quote=josea]That is why I went to important Church officials to ask. I could stand in front of God with clean consciousness of having done what I could to solve our problem. The Church has the problem, not me, because it allows different interpretation of this issue among different people. Jose
[/quote]

If this is true, then why do you not seem to be at peace to proceed with your moral choices?


#17

This is one of the few documents (and it is not even a document it is a speech) where the Church talk about this problem. The following documents from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are based in this doctrine of Pope Pius XII:

In his address to the Congress of Urology on October 8, 1953, Pope Pius XII outlined the specific conditions under which sterilization (or any amputation, for that matter) may be performed;

[size=3]Three things condition the moral permission of a surgical operation requiring an anatomical or functional mutilation;

(1) that the preservation or functioning of a particular organ provokes a serious damage or constitutes a threat to the complete organism [this is the ‘principle of totality’]. [/size]

I see that a reproductive function that when “switched on” could killed a woman “constitutes a threat to the complete organism”

(2) that this damage cannot be avoided, or at least notably diminished, except by the amputation in question and that its efficacy is well assured.

This damage or threat can be only diminished by the complete abstention and avoiding free and non-free sexual activity (just remeber NFP does not work in our woman’s case and in case of rape it does not help much).

(3) that it can be reasonably foreseen that the negative effect, namely, the mutilation and its consequences, will be compensated by the positive effect: exclusion of a damage to the whole organism, mitigation of the pain, etc.

This is obvious.

[As far as sterilization is concerned], the conditions which would justify disposing of a part in favor of the whole in virtue of the principle of totality are lacking. It is not therefore morally permissible to operate on healthy oviducts if the life or (physical) health of the mother is not threatened by their continued existence.

The Pope arrives to this conclusion when thinking about FREE sexual marital acts. But it would be licit to “operate on healthy oviducts” even when the life of the woman is not threatened by their existence, when her life is threatened by any sexual act that might not be free or completely free. One can not predict what kind of situation is going to come switching on the reproductive function. This is prophylaxis. Think again about the possibility of rape or drunkenness. One can not put his life at risk unnecessary if it can be prevented no matter from what kind of act the threat comes. The principle of totality could be applied in this situation. I think, in this case no intrinsical evil is done.

Jose


#18

Jose, see the catechism reference above. You can also Google the entire Catechism and continue on down from the section on morality starting with #1750.


#19

[quote=felra]If this is true, then why do you not seem to be at peace to proceed with your moral choices?
[/quote]

Because I do not understand so much confusion about it and I was and I am still confused about this issue, I am still thinking and praying about it.

I insist, if ABC is seen as a prophylactic medical approach then it should not be considered intrisic evil. That is the whole point about.
Jose


#20

[quote=Tantum ergo]Jose, see the catechism reference above. You can also Google the entire Catechism and continue on down from the section on morality starting with #1750.
[/quote]

While mutilation is intrinsically evil, medical preventive amputation is not. That is the point.
Jose


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