Abortion and Miscarriage

Hello

Right…I know my post here might sound a little muddled, as I’m not quite sure how to phrase it but I would appreciate your thoughts as Catholics upon it.

From since I began my first Theology degree I’ve been a great admirer of the work of the Catholic Theologian Fr. Hans Kung, known for some of his rather unorthodox beliefs ranging from a rejection of Papal Infallibility, Humane Vitae and Clerical Celibacy to openly supporting the ordination of women.

I was reading one of his latest books earlier today (Can we save the Catholic Church? [2013]) and he claimed to point out a hole regarding the Church’s current teaching on abortion. Now, I am very much in the pro-life camp and have otherwise agreed with many of Kung’s beliefs but this one truley struck me as unusual.

At present the Catholic Church teaches that a soul is formed at the very moment of conception, and because of this fact to abort a fetus is nothing short of murder. Fr Kung claimed this could not be so, because a good deal many of conceptions end in miscarriage, sometimes so early on the woman in question might not even be aware she has had one.

He the went on to state that if this menstration of cells, not even a recognizable zygote was a human being then it would have to be given a funeral as many stillborn babies are. Since so many pregnancies end this way, it would seem impossible that they could posses an soul and thus were not yet human. He likened an early abortion like this; “If I lost an acorn it would be ridiculous for me to be charged for destroying an oak tree”. The metaphor was dragged out further, that every single egg cell must be counted as a human being and each menstrual cycle is the loss of a child if current teaching is true.

I admit he has an interesting point regarding miscarriages in the first few weeks and while this in itself does not convince me it has struck me as food for thought. What do you make of it?

It is actually quite ridiculous to suggest that a newly conceived child might not have a soul because the mother does not know that the child exists. Some women claim not to have known they were carrying a child up until the point of a surprise birth. Does the child lack a soul because the mother does not know, or even that the mother is in a coma, no soul because she is unaware?

Yes, a child can be lost at any time. The mother may not yet know the child is there. So if she loses her child at two months but didn’t know she was pregnant, the child has no soul? A mother’s awareness early in conception or later is no argument for lack of a soul. A child dying early or dying later is no less human, however tiny.

If the mother has a cyst in her womb or any growth or foreign matter, that will never develop as a human person, however, that tiny union of male and female required for human life is there, therefore the soul is there. Not murdered, that tiny human in her uterus…is a human person, it won’t remain just a cyst, a cancer, any other matter, it is a human child and will continue to develop a human child. Whatever time that child may die, it is still a human. Whether or not that child is large enough to have a funeral is not relevant to the humanity of the child. That child is still there, however tiny. At what arbitrary stage does your theologian regard the child as large enough for a funeral!

And each menstrual cycle isn’t a spontaneous loss of a human because until the ovum is fertilized there is no tiny infant. His thinking is flawed.

Jesus promised that He would send the Holy Spirit to teach the Church, through His legitimate authority, residing in Peter, and to accept the authority of a theologian inspired by his own original but erroneous thinking is to reject the Holy Spirit’s true teacher.

I am saddened that anyone’s admiration for someone who works against Church teachings. I hope you will come to admire good Catholic theologians and not move away from the faith and truth. I’ll pray that you will not be led astray. There were wolves amongst the sheep even in early times, and false shepherds, and it is exciting to feel that one is being taught by someone different, who stands against established truth. There is a sense of pride and of being different, but this doesn’t make him right or his followers right in following him.

May God guide you

Everyone dies, that doesn’t make it okay to kill them.

And this single idea should be enough to question everything he suggests. Just because there is a miscarriage does not mean the embryo did not have a soul. We can never say that life begins at a time distant from conception, and thus we can’t believe there is no soul. What we may believe is that God knows all and will provide for the soul of children lost in this manner.

Fr. Kung is wrong.

I counter with a question: When does a human soul unite to the body?

Honestly I’m not too sure, based on his quote above, that he even believes in souls. He seems fairly focused on the physical.

thank you for this post

If we’re going to argue against the humanity of the unborn based on the fact that some die early on in pregnancy, where do we draw the line? Infancy? If a baby dies three hours after birth, does that mean it never had a soul? What about a toddler? Or a teenager? The fact that something dies hardly proves it was never alive to begin with or that it’s permissible therefore to kill it.

Same thing with a woman being unaware of her child. Another person being aware of us is not what determines our humanity. That’s a dangerous path to go down if we are going to make that our criterion for deciding who to let live and who to kill.

How dare anyone say that the children I have miscarried have no meaning, no soul.
What a wretched thing to say to a mother who has held that little formed life in her hands with his tiny perfect hands and feet.

This person is sick and flawed. Just because the mother does not have the current option to have a formal funeral does not mean that the mourning does not take place.

Well, there’s no accounting for taste.

At present the Catholic Church teaches that a soul is formed at the very moment of conception, and because of this fact to abort a fetus is nothing short of murder. Fr Kung claimed this could not be so, because a good deal many of conceptions end in miscarriage

EVERY conception ends in death. Some deaths occur earlier than others. If the death is NATURAL, it isn’t murder. Fr. Kung is demonstrating his lack of philosophical acumen for the world to see.

He the went on to state that if this menstration of cells, not even a recognizable zygote was a human being then it would have to be given a funeral as many stillborn babies are.

A funeral is not required for a person to have a soul. A funeral is not possible if the death is not known to others. A person might die in the wilderness and never be found, and never get a funeral. Does that mean the person had no soul? More sloppy reasoning.

Since so many pregnancies end this way, it would seem impossible that they could posses an soul and thus were not yet human.

So, because we could not do a funeral, the person had no soul. Riiiiight.

He likened an early abortion like this; “If I lost an acorn it would be ridiculous for me to be charged for destroying an oak tree”.

Because oak trees have souls. no, wait… I don’t actually think that’s right. It might not be philosophically rigorous to compare acorns to human embryos. It presupposes that embryos don’t have souls (because, otherwise, the comparison is seriously flawed). Real philosophers arrive at conclusions - they don’t begin with them.

Let’s try to impart some intrinsic value to the analogy of the acorn (seed). Suppose, instead of an acorn, we discovered a seed of an extinct tree. We could plant the seed, and revive that lost species (let’s ignore the fertilization issue). Now we’re talking about a seed that has some measure of value (whereas acorns are pretty worthless). If someone destroyed THAT seed, it would be sad. Human beings are more valuable than a seed from an extinct tree, and certainly more valuable than acorns.

The metaphor was dragged out further, that every single egg cell must be counted as a human being and each menstrual cycle is the loss of a child if current teaching is true.

Now he demonstrates that he knows nothing about biology either. An egg is not a person. It’s half of a potential person. Only persons have souls.

If Fr. Kung’s “logic” were carried further, we would say that every hydrocarbon molecule (and every atom) in every egg is a human being.

What do you make of it?

I think it’s a dereliction of duty for any philosopher.

Never heard of Fr. Hans Kung. But now that I have, I certainly will stay away from his writings.

I agree and I’m joining you in prayer… :gopray2:

Check-Mate! :slight_smile:

That is the poorest logic I’ve ever seen. Since conception normally ends in birth, it must be assumed that the soul was present at conception. We cannot presume on when God informs the soul. That is God’s business not that of Hans Kung.

His second argument is simply fascetious. He has no idea whether or not miscarried babies were ensouled or not. Again, we may not assume the negative.

Linus2nd

God bless you. I’m so sorry for your loss. Will be praying for you.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.