abortion question

Hello everyone,

At the moment I’m really struggling over the issue of abortion. I would definitely describe myself as pro-life but I’m experiencing doubts. I was reading (on a pro-life website) the other day all about the development of a foetus. Here’s a quote:

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Days 5-9
During this time, the fertilised egg implants in the rich lining of the uterus and begins to draw nourishment. The embryo is no bigger than a full stop.

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I know what you’ll say, that size has nothing to do with the value of life, and that even at this early stage the fertilized egg does have soul. I’m just having difficulty with believing that something the size of the dot at the end of this sentence really does… I’m sorry to even say this as it shows a weakness in my faith I suppose :frowning:

Even if I believe that at that stage the fertilized egg is a person, has a soul etc, how on earth can I convince someone else, who isn’t religious? Particularly in the more distressing cases such as pregnancy through rape, it does seem harsh to deny abortion at these very, very early stages. Pro-life campaigning usually focuses on the brutality of abortion at the later stages, and I totally agree with that, but during the first couple of weeks of a pregnancy it’s not the same thing… I’m partly playing the devil’s advocate here, not sure of what I think…

Please help me deal with my doubts!

I guess the question that always comes to me is: when does a new human being begin? Without any theological considerations whatever, the answer is always, at fertilization. Every one of us started this way. At one point, there were two separate, individuated body cells from the mother and the father. After fertilization, there is a new and genetically distinct human individual. After conception, one is not able to say, it’s just a part of the mother, because now it has it’s own genetics.

I think that it is distressing that one would think that it is okay to kill someone for an evil their father did. The child did nothing and I bet he doesn’t want to die.

So how big is your soul? You are thinking temporally and spacially, as if a soul couldn’t “fit” inside a small embryo. But, souls don’t have a size because they are not material, they are spiritual. It is not our size that determines whether or not we have a soul, but our humanity.

The same way non-religious people were convicted that Nazis were wrong, slavery was wrong, and murder is wrong. There are many non-religious people who think abortion is wrong-- it is an issue of human rights, not religion. You can check out websites such as www.godlessprolifers.org/home.html

Why?

Yes, it is the same thing. A person is killed.

I wouldn’t have my older brother, or, consequently, my three nieces, or my two grandnieces and three grandnephews. Shows how much love can come from an act of hate, huh?

Wasn’t it Horton who said: A person is a person; no matter how small.

It is a medical fact that, once conception occurs, the prenatal is a developing human being. It doesn’t matter what your definition of ‘person’ or ‘personhood’ is. It is a scientific fact that the prenatal, from conception to birth, has the dna of a human being, does not have the same dna as the cells of the mother or the father alone, and is a unique, living, developing human being.

The direct and volunatary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral.

So how big is your soul? You are thinking temporally and spacially, as if a soul couldn’t “fit” inside a small embryo. But, souls don’t have a size because they are not material, they are spiritual. It is not our size that determines whether or not we have a soul, but our humanity.

1ke nails it. This is why abortion is a very real sense is the Sacrament of Evil–it is a chosen act that objectively reduces humanity to brute matter and destroys the entire spiritual universe in a manner of speaking.

If we are going to make an error with regard to when does life begin, are we not wiser to error on the side of life? Otherwise, who do we trust to determine when a person receives her soul? Science? Hardly. Science gets debunked and proven wrong daily. Government? I don’t think you want to give it that much power even though we already have.

The Virgin Mary was once this big ( . ).
Was she any less valuable at that size then when she was say this big ( .)?

At what point was Mary big enough to matter? Do you really believe you can contain God’s grace within the confines of physical matter? Do you really believe the soul is only as big as the body it dwells in?

Maybe this will help…
Jeremiah 1:5 NAS
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations".

God has always given us the ability and grace to find the good out of every “dark” circumstance. But we have to be willing to hear Him, and to do the next right thing…it’s taking a leap of Faith !!!

I’ll keep you in my prayers…:slight_smile:

One of the biggest flawed arguments for abortion is the rape argument. So how does punishing and killing an innocent baby for the sins of the parent work? I mean we summarily reject the sins of the father in all other respects in our modern world don’t we? We argue that making a rape victim carry a child to term and raise the child is cruel and unusual punishment. In fact, it isn’t how the research shows… women who have and raise the baby conceived of a rape are MORE likely to successfully recover from their rape. It gives them purpose and they don’t suffer the guilt of abortion which is actually more devastating than the trauma of rape.

Is a baby any less human because of his/her parentage? Or the intent of the union that created them? I don’t think so in the least! How can a person say that they would love a child less because of how they were conceived? Isn’t that baby still genetically half from the mother?

Like I said, it is flawed to use the rape argument… since the child is not the perpetrator, rather could be another victim when you consider that they will never have the knowledge of their full parentage.

Don’t feel ashamed. We all have doubts about one thing or another. The fact that you are trying to overcome them certainly speaks of your character.

The question who have to ask yourself is: how is fetus in any way different from a new born baby? What’s the difference between a child one second before it’s born and one second after it’s born. This is the only disinction that really matters. The baby at conception, a month later, two months later, etc., just follow a stipulated period of growth and development, just like children out of the womb for about 21 years. The only plausible distinction is before birth itself and after birth. So what qualities does a child have one second before its born, and one second after? The answer is none. There is no real distinction between the two. Abortion being wrong can, and is, argued for completely outside the context of religion, simply because abortion leads to innumerable logical fallacies.

The arguments for abortion are merely pragmatic ones. Pro-choicers give passionate speeches about the difficulting of raising a child that is the product of sexual assault, etc., etc., but this in no way proves that it is right or wrong to kill someone. Yes, some people would be better off, but we would all be better off if all the sex offenders in the world were killed tomorrow, but we don’t have the right to do that, and we don’t have the right to kill an unborn child.

A little anecdote about a popular saint: Padre Pio, legendary Capuchin priest, miracle worker, and confessor, was speaking with one of his brother priests. The Priest said to him “Padre Pio, this morning you denied absolution to a woman who confessed to having an abortion. Why have you been so rigourous with this poor unfortuante?”

Padre Pio answered ""The day in which people, frightened by the economic boom, from physical damages or from economic sacrifices, will lose the horror of the abortion, will be a most terrible day for humanity. Abortion is not only homicide but also suicide. And with these people we see on the point of committing two crimes…do we want to show our faith? Do we want to save them? "

"Why suicide?” the other priest asked.

"You would understand this suicide of the human race, if with the eye of reason, you could see the Heart populated by old men and depopulated by children: burnt as a desert.”

Remember, though, that abortion is certainly forgiveable; Padre Pio probably looked into her soul and found her impenitent of this grave sin, and denying her absolution.

Hope some of this helped,

Mat.

Let’s look at this issue objectively, on a scientific basis, without any reference to scripture or Church teaching (as this is an issue of the Natural Law, we can do so confidently).

A baby, after birth, is not the same as its mother, right? It is a separate, living creature. Unique. It is fully human…it has 46 chromosones.
Question: What makes the baby unique (moreso than anything else)?
Answer: The fact that it has its own, unique DNA sequence that is different than its mother’s DNA sequence.
Question: Is the baby alive (using the following definition)?
Answer: (Unless you’re Peter Singer) yes. It grows as a result of its own metabolism. It is adapted to its environment (breathes air, ingests nutrients orally) Given further maturation, it will be able to reproduce.

*Note: definition of life: Life is a condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally. *

A fetus is not the same as its mother, right? It is is a separate, living creature. Unique. It is fully human…it has 46 chromosones.
Question: What makes the fetus unique (moreso than anything else)?
Answer: The fact that it has its own, unique DNA sequence that is different than its mother’s DNA sequence.
Question: Is the fetus alive (using the definition above)?
Answer: yes. It is growing as a result of its own metabolism. It is adapted to its environment (gets oxygen and nutrients through the umbilical cord) Given further maturation, it will be able to reproduce.

Note: the time period of viability is constantly shifting to earlier time of development. It used to be considered at 30 weeks. However, with advancements in medical technology, that time now is as early as 20 weeks. There is no reason to assume that the time will not shift earlier as technology continues to advance.

An embryo is not the same as its mother, right? It is is a separate, living creature. Unique. It is fully human…it has 46 chromosones.
Question: What makes the embryo unique (moreso than anything else)?
Answer: The fact that it has its own, unique DNA sequence that is different than its mother’s DNA sequence.
Question: Is the embryo alive (using the definition above)?
Answer: yes. It is growing as a result of its own metabolism. It is adapted to its environment (gets oxygen and nutrients through the umbilical cord) Given further maturation, it will be able to reproduce.

A blastocyst is not the same as its mother, right? It is is a separate, living creature. Unique. It is fully human…it has 46 chromosones.
Question: What makes the blastocyst unique (moreso than anything else)?
Answer: The fact that it has its own, unique DNA sequence that is different than its mother’s DNA sequence.
Question: Is the blastocyst alive (using the definition above)?
Answer: yes. It is growing as a result of its own metabolism. It is adapted to its environment (gets oxygen and nutrients through absorbtion) Given further maturation, it will be able to reproduce – in fact, the individual cells DO reproduce.

A zygote is not the same as its mother, right? It is is a separate, living creature. Unique. It is fully human…it has 46 chromosones.
Question: What makes the zygote unique (moreso than anything else)?
Answer: The fact that it has its own, unique DNA sequence that is different than its mother’s DNA sequence.
Question: Is the zygote alive (using the definition above)?
Answer: yes. It is growing as a result of its own metabolism. It is adapted to its environment (utilizes stored energy for growth) Given further maturation, it will be able to reproduce – in fact, the individual cells DO reproduce…

When does this unique collection of DNA become alive, then? Some people say that “it’s my body.” Well, if it was part of her body, it would have her DNA. Some people say at birth (when it takes its first breath). Well, the counter-argument to that is that the baby still uses oxygen before birth…just another source for that oxygen. Some people talk about a moment of “quickening,” being defined as the point where the baby starts moving inside the womb. What precise moment is that? The only thing we can know for a certainty is the precise moment when a unique DNA strand is created…i.e., the moment of fertilization.

Suppose, in a sci-fi world, that technology develops so that a baby can be completely grown in vitro (i.e., outside of the woman’s womb)? (BTW, this process, though not the life created from it, would certainly be regarded as an abomination by the Church) When does the baby gain civil/human rights? Again, the only time that we could be certain is to grant those civil rights when the unique person is created: the moment of fertilization.

Particularly in the more distressing cases such as pregnancy through rape, it does seem harsh to deny abortion at these very, very early stages.

Ask an adult person, conceived as the result of rape, whether he/she wishes her mother would have aborted her at a early stage of pregnancy. Unless there is some mental illness involved, the answer will assuredly be “no.”

While rape is a tragedy, murder of a baby simply compounds that tragedy.

Hope the above helps!

As another poster has written (paraphrased):

what’s the difference between aborting an embryo, morally speaking,of that size this month or waiting until September?

what you or I believe about the beginning of life is not the issue. the objective scientific fact about when life begins is the issue. to date science has not definitively proven that life begins at the moment of conception or at implantation, or sometime later. for that reason, just as in any other decision in which there could be a margin of error, the responsible scientist or doctor errs on the side of life. this same approach governs end of life issues, which is why an ER time will keep working over a person even if there are some indications of death, until there is no longer reasonable doubt the person is dead.

there is no need, in discussing this with a non-religious person, to bring in a religious issue, when the same point can be made about a scientific claim by referring to science, and acknowledging what science can and cannot do, prove, or claim.

Actually, the Church does not teach that. We believe that the soul is infussed at some point, but we don’t know when. Having a soul is not part of the Catholic argument against abortion at any stage. See the Church’s declaration on abortion:

vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19741118_declaration-abortion_en.html

Footnote 19 reads:

“This declaration expressly leaves aside the question of the moment when the spiritual soul is infused. There is not a unanimous tradition on this point and authors are as yet in disagreement. For some it dates from the first instant; for others it could not at least precede nidation. It is not within the competence of science to decide between these views, because the existence of an immortal soul is not a question in its field. It is a philosophical problem from which our moral affirmation remains independent for two reasons: (1) supposing a belated animation, there is still nothing less than a human life, preparing for and calling for a soul in which the nature received from parents is completed, (2) on the other hand, it suffices that this presence of the soul be probable (and one can never prove the contrary) in order that the taking of life involve accepting the risk of killing a man, not only waiting for, but already in possession of his soul.”

A lot of Catholics get upset at this, but I think it makes our teaching easier to understand. We believe that each of us is a unique creation of a God who can, and does, love us infinitely.

We are instructed to love each other as God loves us (or as closely as we can get).

Infinite love, or infinite value, makes distinctions between humans moot. Infinity cannot be greater or less than Infinity. So we don’t try to say things like ‘that young boy has his whole life ahead of him, so he is more valuable than that aging senile woman…’

Of course, like most things we fail to fully live and grasp the teaching, but what we stive for is to love every human life, from conception to natural death, as much as we treasure our own.

Now, most secular people have some sense of right and wrong. Most would agree that they would not stab a newborn baby to death, or an old person sitting on the bench in the park. So where we disagree is at the very edges of life, the person on a feeding tube with no higher brain functions, or the very beginnings of human life.

But it isn’t that we are absolutely certain about tiny little humans with souls, or the true mercy of feeding the body with the diminished brain. It is just that, once you put infinite value on all life, you are obliged to always error on the side of life.

That is why abortion, euthanasia, murder, and even the death penalty are all tied together under a single principle in a Papal Encyclical (EVANGELIUM VITAE).

When we explain our position this way, most secularists at least glimpse the principle, even if they don’t fully accept it. When we try to defend each aspect of pro-life as a seperate teaching, it can get hard because, in of themselves, our stance can seem disproportionate.

Peace

SoCal mega-super thanks for that link! I knew there was a Church document somewhere that debunked the notion that the evil of abortion is tied to when a soul is infused. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen pro-abortionists try to make hay with, “Ohh Pope Sixtus said this, but Gregory said this…” with the absurd implication that this means the Church teaching is up in the air.

How do we answer those who point at laws in the Church that made a distinction of a child before and after the ‘quickening’ sometimes defined at 40 days irregardless if the mother felt movement or not? I believe (know to be the truth) that human life begins at the moment of conception. Did St. Thomas Aquinus write that it doesn’t matter when the soul enters the body because every human conception is a body prepared for a soul?

Thank you in advance. I just read a blog that said St. Augustine and some Popes supported abortion in some instances. If it’s true it doesn’t take away from Jesus’ promise of infallibility but shows some type of human non binding error. But it still troubles me, an ardent pro lifer.

Excellent points, but, when speaking about women I don’t think I would use Padre Pio as an example. I have read several books about him and it appears that he really had a uncharitable attitude towards women. Can you imagine that he refused to grant absolution to that poor woman who had an abortion? There are several documented instances where he also refused to hear confessions from women who were not dressed to his standards. So, Our Lord was forgiving and had meals with the Pharasees and sinners and gave them forgiveness, but this 20th Century priest would not? I bet that the woman at the well was not dressed up to PP’s standards either - darn good thing that Jesus didn’t care what she was wearing.Just say’nnnnnn…
Sorry, didn’t mean to send this thread off the rails. :eek:

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