***Note:**The issues/questions I raise in this thread may be emotionally disturbing. I raise them in the interest of seeking both clarification and consistency.
I was reflecting on the controversial statement made by Richard Mourdock back in 2012, about his opposition to abortion in the cases of rape, for which took a lot of heat from both the media and Republican Party. He stated:
"I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother. I just struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."
Some of his critics interpreted Mourdock’s statement to mean that pregnancies that result from rape are willed by God, and the reason his critics were scandalized at that suggestion is because the implication of it is not merely that God wills that we respect the human life conceived in rape, but also that that act of rape which caused the pregnancy, a new human life – was willed by God,
Now, I am sure that all of us Catholics naturally repulse at the latter suggestion because it is offensive and contrary to our faith and foundation of moral theology to maintain that God wills humans to commit sin, and rape is a sin and a mortal one at that.
Yet, we do have before ourselves a moral/theological difficulty to resolve. I am not sure how to articulate it so I will simply list the thoughts I have in mind at the moment and I am sure that the point I am trying to get at will speak for itself.
If all children are gifts/blessings, then it follows necessarily that children conceived in rape are gifts/blessings. Now a gift is precisely that, something which is given, and here the giver is God, since human life is a gift from God.
In every conception/pregnancy, irrespective of its circumstantial causes, there is a unique human being. A human being consists of a soul united to a body. The biological composition (i.e. body, or to use traditional language “flesh” ) of a human being is provided by the person’s parents. The soul however, is provided by God Himself. Therefore, in all conceptions/pregnancies there is a cooperation between God and man.
However, the same cannot be said about all deliberate avoidances of conceptions/pregnancies. Afterall, moral teaching tells us that contraception is evil and NFP is only conditionally permissible. So, it is entirely possible for avoidance of conception/pregnancy in this or that case to be contrary to God’s will.
- The conditional permissibility of using emergency contraception (in cases of rape) gives us something interesting to consider:
Scenario A : Woman is raped, refuses recourse to emergency contraception, and conceives.
Scenario B (alternate “ending”): Woman is raped, uses emergency contraception, and prevents fertilization – which otherwise would have occurred ( I know, the latter part is not something we can know, but only God in His omniscience. But it is precisely God’s perspective that is the issue here).
Which of those scenarios was God’s will? Suppose the very human being conceived in scenario A is the very human being prevented from coming into existence in Scenario B.
In scenario B we would say the child conceived is a gift from God. The implications of this is that in scenario A the woman refused a gift from God.