Can a Christian support legal abortion?


#1

I was recently having a conversation with a Catholic where he told me that a person cannot be Christian and support legal abortion. My position is that if a person believes in everything in the Nicene Creed including that they believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit, suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, and believes in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified they are a Christian regardless of their position on the legality and morality of abortion. He told me these people are not Christians. To him they are heretics or at best “fallen-away Christians” but not real Christians.

Is this a common belief among Catholics? Does the Catholic Church take the position that anyone who supports the legality or morality of abortion is not a Christian? Are Catholics who support legal abortion not real Catholics (this was another position of his)? Is there difference between supporting the legality of abortion as opposed the morality of abortion as far being a real Christian in the view of the Catholic Church?


#2

You’re leaving out a good chunk of the Nicene Creed – namely, “I believe in one holy, Catholic, and Apostolic church”. This statement is an acknowledgement of the fact that the Church possesses the authority given by Christ to Peter and the Apostles, which was passed down to their successors: the Pope and the bishops. Thus, the Church has the authority to teach definitively, authoritatively, and infallibly on matters of faith and morals.

If a Catholic supports the legalization of abortion, he or she is directly contradicting the Church’s teaching that abortion is always gravely immoral – regardless of the circumstances. From the Catechism:

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law…

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,” “by the very commission of the offense,” and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

2322 From its conception, the child has the right to life. Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is a “criminal” practice (GS 27 § 3), gravely contrary to the moral law. The Church imposes the canonical penalty of excommunication for this crime against human life.

2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

Regarding your question:

2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

If one knowingly supports abortion, one is either denying a truth that is part of the Catholic faith, or one is refusing to submit to the authority of the Church. Whether one is committing a mortal sin by merely “thinking abortion is ok” rather than actively supporting the “right to choose” by voting for particular candidates or contributing money to particular organizations because of their support for abortion is a different matter, but it seems clear that one is in rebellion against the Church even if one merely “thinks it’s ok”.

This does not mean one is not a Christian; it means, however, that one is not obeying the authority that Christ established Himself.

Peace,
Dante


#3

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which contains all of the teachings, dogma and doctrine of 2000 years of Catholic thought gives the dogma of the Church on abortion in paragraphs 2270 and 2271.
#2270 states: Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life."
Jer 1:5 and Ps 139, among other Scriptures are quoted as examples of Biblical support for this view.
#2271 reads: Since the first century the Chuch has affirmed the moral evil of ever procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchaneable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.
From this dogma, it is cear that one cannot be both a faithful Catholc and support abortion.
There are probably more threads on this issue on these forums than than you could read in a year.
As far as being a Christian and pro-choice, it’s plain that one cannot be a Catholic Christian and support abortion.


#4

Well change the subject matter.

If I said: “I’m Christian. I believe the apostles creed but I believe adultery and murder are OK.”

What would you say about my status as a “Christian”?

I guess I would still be a “Christian” but as a minimum you could fairly say I have a very poorly formed conscious. I certainly wouldn’t have an “orthodox” Christian belief system. You could also likely fairly say I’m a “Christian heretic”. I definitely wouldn’t share the same faith as “Catholics”.

Not sure if that helps at all, but maybe.

Chuck


#5

More or less. Those who support legal abortion are not members in good standing, however only if they are active in public life is formal action against them likely.

Someone could support the legality of abortion whilst opposing it on moral grounds, just as we don’t necessarily want laws against adultery. That’s where you enter a grey area. However normally bishops are right to see this as messing around, just as the whole “pro-choice” idea is so much nonsense-speak for “pro-abortion”.


#6

No, we cannot support the legality of abortion. Yes, we do want laws against adultery. In the U.S., the government used to recognize adultery as a sin against marriage – as grounds for divorce. In other words, in a divorce proceeding, the adulterer would be held accountable by being found at fault, and the settlement would reflect this. Now, in quite a few states, there is “no-fault divorce.” A cheating spouse can actually be the plaintiff (petitioner) and sue for the divorce. His/her spouse may not have done anything wrong – but would be called the defendant. This is the only civil proceeding allowed in this so-called judicial system now, in which the wronged party can be sued.


#7

Someone could support the legality of abortion whilst opposing it on moral grounds, just as we don’t necessarily want laws against adultery.

Schizophrenic piffle. Abortion isn’t a law against an evil. It is a law FOR an evil - a law that supports murder.

Can I be a good Catholic/Christian and claim I support Jim Crow laws even though I am personally opposed to keeping blacks out of the white sections of public spaces?

Any person who claims to be a Christian yet offers support for laws that enable women to kill their unborn babies at will is a very poor example of a desciple of Christ.


#8

No.

Christ warned us about leading children astray. God knows us in the womb and well enough to number the hairs on our heads.

It is fundamentally incompatible with Christianity to condone abortion. Anyone who can somehow square the Sermon on the Mount, the Ten Commandments, or any other Christian teaching with abortion has stopped following Christ and started following something or somebody else.


#9

Legal abortion is a personally touchy issue for me.

My great-grandmother was a kitchen table abortionist. I did not know about this until shortly after her death, when her possessions were being cleaned out of her house and the, urp implement was found in a kitchen drawer. My grandmother remembered the young couples who would come to her house…

So, I know for a fact that making abortion illegal will not stop abortion. It will just drive it back underground, and women will seek the services of people like my great-grandmother, not all of whom would keep their “operating rooms” as clean as my great-grandmother kept her kitchen. Either that or they will ingest various toxins, or use straightened coathangers, etc. Result- in many cases, two lives will be lost instead of just one. I suppose the less charitable among us would argue that a woman who was willing to kill her baby deserves to suffer whatever consequences, including death by hemorrage or infection, but I think that is for God to decide, not human beings.

However, I do believe that abortion is murder.

I also think that we could do a lot more toward stopping abortion through social policies short of overturning Roe v. Wade. Like requiring employers to pay a just wage so that women would be able to support their children, and levelling heavy tax penalties for companies that export jobs. Like universal health care. Like a social safety net for poor women, or women who are threatened with abandonment or abuse men who don’t want to support the children they fathered. Like requiring OB/GYN’s to show the expectant mother an ultrasound picture of her unborn baby so she can make an informed “choice” - this last alone would probably at least cut abortions in half. A woman would have to have a heart of stone to have an abortion after having seen a picture that proves that the “lump of cells” in her womb is, in fact, a baby.


#10

It doesn’t stop rape, murder, stealing, or child abuse. But, it reduces crime and it gives protection to innocent persons.

Babies deserve protection from the law, even though some will still perpetrate crimes against them. Babies deserve the same legal protection before they are born as after they are born.

And, moreover, what we as a society condone in the law carries weight in so many ways. It allows men to abandon the women and children because they can just “get an abortion”-- it actually increases violence against women (especially those who try to reject a coerced abortion) as several studies have shown and gives women less legal protection.

This is an emotional statement and not based in fact.

The facts bear out that most illegal abortions were performed by doctors, not women such as your grandmother.

Second, it also ignores the fact that death from abortion in the years immediately preceding legalization was almost nil due mostly to the advent of antibiotics in treating infections which had previously caused the majority of abortion-related deaths.

Third, it ignores the fact that women die today from **legal **abortions and many abortion clinics have serious health and safety violations and are largely unregulated.

Fourth, it also ignores the fact that abortionists lobbying Congress to legalize abortion (doctors) have admitted to lieing about thousands of women dieing from “back alley” and “coathanger” abortions-- they made it up.

Murder does not deserve protection of the law.


#11

They may be a Christian…just not a very good one. Satan knows the truth of Christianity- he chooses to reject it (which is why his fall was so severe- he is very wise, and the angels do not have the temptation to sin that man does as a result of the fall. He couldn’t stand the idea of Christianity, or of the dignity that man was created with. The angels are wiser than mankind- yet God placed man above them. Satan and the demons couldn’t stand that- and they said “I will not serve.”


#12

Excellent points all.

May I add:

I also think that we could do a lot more toward stopping abortion through social policies short of overturning Roe v. Wade.

Would your approach have worked with slavery? What if the country had chosen to address all the issues surrounding the supremely immoral practice of owning other human beings rather than the issue itself? Should the abolitionists have tried to convert hearts and minds or meet the “needs” of the slave owners rather than making slavery illegal?


#13

Wellllll…

With slavery, rape, murder, etc, you are dealing with people who have already been born. And are visible to the naked eye without use of an endoscope. You could see the families separated, people on the auction block, the lash marks on the backs of the field hands. You can see the woman crying in the emergency room while an investigator does the rape kit. The family weeping because the body of a missing son or daughter, brother or sister, husband, father, wife, mother has been found shot, stabbed, strangled.

I think many folks don’t think of the unborn as people largely because they are, well, invisible. Most abortions happen before the pregnancy is obvious. Baby? What baby? I don’t see any baby.

Get what I mean, here? If the mother hasn’t announced her pregnancy to all and sundry, nobody but her, her doctor, and perhaps the father will know a child has been killed. It’s easy to dismiss the rights of the unborn precisely because they are unborn. The neighbors won’t notice that they haven’t seen the family’s new baby for a while, and, hey, what was up with that late-night gardening project last week? While the child is still inside the womb, it’s very easy to rationalize that it is just a lump of tissue, because we can’t see the fingers and toes and the cute little upturned nose.

I vote we give women no excuse for having an abortion. Yes, the child will be supported. No, you won’t be evicted from your apartment because you couldn’t make the rent because you had to take time off work to have your baby (I live in Las Vegas, where there is no 30-days notice. You can get a 5-day eviction notice on the 3rd of the month, and many people do) Yes, you will have access to prenatal care, and health care for your child. Oh, BTW, here’s an ultrasound of your baby. See the little head? The fingers and toes? It’s a baby, not a lump of tissue.

Meet the needs of the mothers so the mothers will be able to meet the needs of the children.

I think if we can get to this place, politicians who are “personally opposed to abortion” will be a lot less able to justify a “pro-choice” stance.

If we eliminate poverty (which is the biggest factor in abortions) as a justification, then we can go after the “women being able to control their own bodies” issue.

As if they weren’t exercising control over their bodies when they chose to engage in an activity that, by its very nature, is designed to cause pregnancy.


#14

No.


#15

Short answer: I don’t think this possibilty is so remote as to be inconceivable - Christians used to have no (outwardly noticeable) difficulties in finding a moral basis for slavery or torture, or other things now regarded as abhorrent by the Magisterium or by Catholics: so why should it be impossible to find a morally satisfactory basis for abortion ? The human mind can justify anything - if only to the satisfaction of the justifier.

I think electrocuting murderers is vile - but plenty of Christians can be found to think otherwise. Did no Christian ever support lobotomisation for what he considered were good reasons ? One can be wrong, without being outside God’s friendship - no matter what beings who are not God may say. Ultimately, God’s POV is the only one that matters.

Denying the Christianity of those whose views one finds abhorrent succeeds only in unchurching a lot of people who suppose they are Christian; as others also suppose of them. Do it to enough people, & eventually most of the Church is unchurched - it’s not a good idea, at all. And all because one has not seen eye-to-eye with a fellow-creature as flawed as oneself.


#16

A Christian denies self. A Christian reveres the gift of life, which comes from God. To take life, especially innocent life, is murder-which is not remotely a Christian belief.

Is this a common belief among Catholics?

Absolutely! It is taught, and the obedient cling to it as revealed truth.

Does the Catholic Church take the position that anyone who supports the legality or morality of abortion is not a Christian?

They can still be Christian, but they are in grave sin. Grave sin places one at risk of eternal punishment.

Are Catholics who support legal abortion not real Catholics (this was another position of his)?

They are in error and fallen away from the faith. They are called “cafeteria Catholics”, who pick and choose what they believe, and are disobedient out of love for this world, rather than for God.

Is there difference between supporting the legality of abortion as opposed the morality of abortion as far being a real Christian in the view of the Catholic Church?

Supporting abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, or the sacrifice of human embryos (which we all were) is morally the same as Saul of Tarsus holding the cloaks for those who stoned Saint Steven to death. Not direct participation, but gravely sinful nonetheless.

Would you care to face God and have to explain why you killed the unborn baby that He had conceived of from all eternity as part of His Divine plan? Especially just because you didn’t want (love) the child, or money was tight?

ALL of Christianity was dead set against abortion, euthanasia and contraception until about 1920. Then, something changed-and it wasn’t God.

There is nothing unusual or controversial in what your friend said. Have him/her sign up here!

Christ’s peace be always with you.


#17

I can attest to that.

My mother’s doctor told her she was too anemic to have another baby. Instead of offering her iron supplements, he offered to sign the papers so she could have a legal abortion. This was in 1958.

My mother told her doctor where he could shove his papers, and went ahead and had my brother.

BTW, she lived to be 81, despite the fact that she was a type 1 diabetic.

Murder does not deserve protection of the law.

You can’t say it any plainer than that. Legalization encourages abortion. I’ve met a lot of people who think it must be moral because it’s legal.


#18

It is no use having people in the Church who do not believe in or support its basic precepts. Thou shalt not commit murder is a pretty basic precept. People like to rationalise some killings (particularly abortion, often the sick and elderly) because it suits them, it is convenient, or they want to have sex without consequences, and because it is the spirit of the age.

Christians who support baby killing are specifically going against Christian teaching and Church teaching. They are ignoring the gospel in order to serve some other philosophy. Jesus himself said that you cannot serve two masters. Those who want to serve Mammon or Molech have to make a choice on issues this important.


#19

I absolutely don’t get what you mean here.

Just because a person is not entirely visible doesn’t make them any less a person. They have the right to the full protection of the law. There is no justification for denying them that. Hence, abortion should be illegal.

I vote we give women no excuse for having an abortion.
Meet the needs of the mothers so the mothers will be able to meet the needs of the children.

The Church and government do plenty to meet the needs of poor mothers. Of course, more can always be done. But that does not make it right to kill an innocent person. And if you vote in support of a pro abortion politician you very well may be in grave sin.

I think if we can get to this place, politicians who are “personally opposed to abortion” will be a lot less able to justify a “pro-choice” stance.

Catholic politicians who justify a pro choice stance are basically excommunicated from the Church, should be denied communion, and are involved with grave sin which very well may condemn their souls.

If we eliminate poverty (which is the biggest factor in abortions) as a justification, then we can go after the “women being able to control their own bodies” issue.

Poverty has nothing to do with the right to life. Innocent people deserve the full protection of the law.

PS. Nice weather we are having here, isn’t it? Bout time we had some rain.


#20

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.