Is it a sin to cause property damage to prevent a more grave evil?

I could have titled this thread: “I want to bomb an empty abortion clinic at night when no one is around so that they can’t perform any abortions there but no one will be harmed by the blast. Talk me out of it.” But that seemed trite.

First, I’m not actually planning on bombing anything. I have a job, a family, and no idea how to make a bomb. I don’t even have good aim - if I threw a brick it’d probably land on my shoe and hurt me more than them. Worse, it’d draw terrible sympathy for an organization that really needs to excise itself from the evil of performing abortions and taking the bodies of babies who wanted to live and sending them off for research.

In fact, if Planned Parenthood simply stopped performing abortions, I’d never pay them a second thought. I love that they perform mammograms, that they offer preventative health checkups, that they provide care to women who otherwise can’t afford it. I’m not sure how much the organization is needed now that everyone in the U.S. is required to have health insurance and that health insurance is required to provide such care at reduced cost or no cost. But the fact is that Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the U.S., probably the only operation large enough to actually harvest corpses of murdered children and do anything with them (your OB-GYN isn’t going to take the time to package up an aborted baby and make arrangements with the local university’s lab), and so if one wanted to stop a truly atrocious deed, one should start with Planned Parenthood.

There are many legal and more morally-sound methods to doing so: petitioning Planned Parenthood itself, protesting, writing letters to Congress and to businesses to pressure PP financially to drop the abortion business, or at least drop the connections with selling or donating fetal tissues. I don’t want to discuss those here; my question remains:

Is it a sin to cause property damage to prevent a greater evil (murder of innocents) from taking place? Is it a sin to damage facilities at an abortion clinic in order to prevent abortions from taking place?

Bombing abortion clinics - even empty ones at night - would:

  • Allow the clinic to use their insurance to rebuild their facilities
  • Allow the clinic to sue you
  • Allow the press to demonize you, causing by extension a bad witness towards pro-life
  • Help the culture of death feel validated in their ways… “Look at these people who don’t share our values planting bombs. They’re crazy”
  • Potentially prompt the federal/state government to start providing security for these clinics
  • You might end up injuring or killing somebody despite whatever your intentions were

So, if absolutely nothing else, bombing empty abortion clinics would violate the cardinal virtue of prudence (wisdom). An individual that uses such methods to combat injustice would further promote the pro-choice lobby’s unholy cause.

That is the same thoughts of the terrorists against the government in the 60s, people like Bill Ayers. Problem is there were people who were killed and hurt. There is no guarantee no one is in the building that wouldn’t be killed. One man who was working in an office of a government building was killed with a bomb, they didn’t know he was in there.

Ayers didn’t go to jail or prison on technicalities but he should have. Instead he ended up teaching in a university like many other terrorists of the 60s. The thought that doing some evil justifies the end is not a good thought.

Never even think about things like that, it would be a terrible and wicked crime. We must protest lawfully and with dignity. Women who go to these clinics may have a great deal of sadness in their lives. Compassion and peaceful protest is what’s needed.

Many years ago, a small Evangelical church in my town tried to bomb an abortion clinic that was less than a mile from my house and about 100ft from an apartment building next door. Fortunately, they did not really know what they were doing and did not use enough explosive to set it off. If it had been the other way around, and they used too much, it could have killed dozens of innocent people, including maybe someone peacefully sleeping in my house. The ends do not justify the means. (And yes they were caught and were sentenced to 8 years in Federal prison).

It is Catholic teaching that one many never do evil, even in pursuit of good. So, no.

And, correction: PP does not provide mammograms. At all.

I agree with this.

I think the best weapon and ‘attack’ is through the Rosary and prayer.

‘He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.’ plus… you can’t fight evil with evil.

One of the tenets of good Catholic morality: The ends do not justify the means.

May God bless you all abundantly and forever! :slight_smile:


If somebody is in mortal danger in their own home and you can save them.

But to do so you would have to break into their house to rescue them.

Surely the damage you cause is excused by the good you are pursuing?

Another example

On another thread we were discussing a guy who was hiding Jews from the Nazis during WW2. The Nazis ask him if he knows where the Jews have gone. He says he hasn’t an idea. In fact he lies to save their lives.

Surely a small evil is OK if it immediately prevents a far greater evil,

OP is also not framing the question properly. It’s framed too broadly.

I assert that there’s times when property damage would be acceptable. The example I’m thinking of is breaking into a hot parked car to rescue an infant in a car seat on a sweltering summer day.

The OPs example is 100% different and never allowable theologically speaking.

whats considered ‘terrorism’ could be viewed by others as patriotism though, look at the times when the US was founded, the American Revolution, in the view of England, the US, at that time were terrorists, If the colonies at the time had the means, Im sure they would have planned some attacks on England itself.

Look at some of Thomas Jeffersons statements/ quotes.

If any of the ‘american patriots’ we celebrate today, were actually alive today and did the things they did in the modern world…they would most certainly be called domestic terrorists…Go figure??

Presuming one was 100% certain that no one was going to get hurt, then I guess it wouldn’t be a sin. However, I don’t think it would be effective. For one, as you said, it would garner sympathy for their cause and discredit the prolife cause. For two, it wouldn’t actually stop the abortions, as they would just have them somewhere else.

PS- As far as I know, PP does not do mammograms. They distribute information on how to do self-exams, (which is decent, given the fact that the BC pills they distribute indescriminantly to anyone who asks is the largest known cause of breast cancer) but as far as mammograms go, they only do referrals. Some PP offices may host a portable mammogram van for a few days a year, but that isn’t really providing the mammograms.

Maybe, but what was the ultimate answer to the Pearl Harbor attack? Nagasaki! And after all, it wasn’t hand-holding and singing “Amazing Grace” that ended human slavery in the USA, was it? Maybe destroying an abortuary is the equivalent of smashing a car window to rescue a trapped infant on a hot day. As for Ayers, yeah, he’s a jerk, but I could understand his frustration. Millions of people were writing letters to congresscritters, voting for antiwar candidates, and marching peacefully in the streets, but the Vietnam War kept chugging on–although by the time the Weathermen came on the scene, the war was starting to wind down.

Neither of those is actually an example.

The person hiding the Jews did not lie, he withheld information the other person was not entitled to know. T

he other example is also not an example of any sin or evil.

That would not be doing an evil and saving a person is not preventing a more grave evil.

Let me play the devil’s advocate on this one

So smashing in somebody’s door with a hammer to save their life is OK.

Smashing a murder clinic to pretent children being murdered there is not OK.

Where exactly is the line between the two?

Other than one can get you sent to jail and the other can’t?

But didn’t many of the saints go to jail. So you can’t argue that it’s God will that we steer clear of activities that may land us in jail.


The OPs question is more interesting than some take credit for. This is a question I had to tackle before.

There are those in Mexico in the 1920s, for example, who were Beatified, and these men took up arms and engaged in violence - lethal violence - against their attackers. St & Doctor Bernard of Clairveaux, the man in my signature, gave writings which would greatly inspire the Crusader’s efforts in the Holy Land against the Islamic aggressors of the Byzantine Empire. There are many, many other examples which we could point to. Catholicism does not expressly condemn the use of violence, despite what some contemporary politicizing would prefer to believe in order to reinforce their individual worldview, which is not in line with the Tradition of the Church.

Abortion is a savage industry which is engaged in the routine murder of defenseless human life. Human life whose value has no number that can be attached to it. It is no less a brainchild of the forces of hell than the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and it is legalized by our federal government in our very own time. In the right conditions, the use of coercive force & violence could absolutely be justified to stop it just as much as any number of other scenarios in history.

So, I think we have to fall back on the virtue of prudence and the reasons give in post #2 (and perhaps others that I did not mention) in order to show why acts of violence in this case would not be justified.

One could commit acts of violence, bring the law to bear against themselves, but ultimatelythink it worthwhile for saving a handful of lives.
But fail to see that more lives are lost for the support it lends to the culture of death.

This fight is not fought in the open, it is fought in the heart. Until more people in positions of power have their heart converted against the culture of death we will continue to have legal abortion.

Acts of vandalism and violence do not convert hearts.
they harden them.

If you have an ant’s nest in your home, stepping on an ant here and there will do nothing about the nest. You have to destroy the nest, queen and all. Just as damaging or destroying an abortuary here and there will do nothing about the overall problem. You have to destroy whatever source there is that allows these places to exist. Once you do that, the problem will take care of itself. :mad:

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