Q.What is the law or teaching of the Catholic Church on the right or otherwise of a doctor to perform an operation such as he admitted he carried out?
A.The Catholic Church teaches, and ever will teach, that no doctor has any right before God and in conscience to perform such an operation. The deliberate and direct destruction of innocent human life is forbidden by the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." Another principle insisted upon by the Catholic Church is that the end does not justify any morally evil means. And the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," forbids the direct killing of an innocent human being before birth as well as after birth.
Q.Now I submit that, if the extreme form of self-defense is justified, then abortion is justified.
A.That does not follow, for the child is not an unjust aggressor, is guilty of no crime in being in its natural place, and is actuated by no malevolence towards the mother. The cases are not parallel, and the transition from one to the other is illogical.
Q.Both involve the taking of life to preserve life, and are opposed to the fifth commandment.
A.That is not true. In abortion the doctor directly intends the killing of an innocent child as a means to the end he desires to attain. He does not merely permit the child to die. He definitely kills it. The child is not responsible for its own death, unjustifiably exposing its life to danger. But in self-defense against an unjust aggressor, the attacked person intends directly his own protection, opposing violence to violence. The aggressor unjustifiably exposes his own life to danger if he walks into the zone of protection his sinister intentions have forced the attacked person to set up. The attacked person does not intend his aggressor to be an aggressor, nor to be killed. He intends his own safety and permits the aggressor to kill himself should he be so evil as to render his death necessary and put himself in the way of it. If the aggressor chooses to throw his own life away, it is he who breaks the fifth commandment. But the unborn child is not an unjust aggressor; is not choosing to throw its own life away; and, in abortion, is killed deliberately as a means to an end.
Q. As to the uncertainty, the doctor performs abortion because he has both inductively and deductively reached the conclusion that if this course is not adopted, the mother's life will be lost; but in self-defense the decision to take another&
A.In self-defense the decision is to defend one's own life even by extreme measures, permitting the aggressor to encompass his own death if he persists in his murderous intentions. In the case of abortion, it is the doctor who is the unjust aggressor. It is he who is attacking an innocent life, and you are not making his case any better by saying that he is not doing it in the heat of the moment and in a disturbed state of mind, but with cool, calculating deliberation. As a matter of fact the human being he is going to kill has the right of self-defense. And if only that living child were big enough, and able to do it, the right would be there to defend itself by violence if necessary, even though the doctor met his death by persisting in his decision to kill the child. And surely you will not say that the defenselessness of the child makes the case of the would-be killer any better!