On the consistent application of pro-life issues across religions/denominations

It has been my experience that when discussing politically charged issues that also concern pro-life issues with other conservative minded individuals who are also religious to some degree (or at least use religious reasoning for their positions on such issues,) Catholics are the most consistent in their application while other Christians, especially Evangelicals, are less so. My experience with non-Christians and such matters are nearly nonexistent.

This tendency is best observed when comparing the rationale for being in favor of or against abortion to that of being in favor or against IVF. I have met only a small handful of Evangelicals who disagree with the morality of IVF for the same reasons they disagree with the morality of abortion. To the contrary, I’ve met plenty of Evangelicals that seem to believe that IVF is an actual godsend all the while still toeing the “life starts at conception” line. More surprising is that many of these individuals hold fast to their position even after I inform them that IVF involves the deliberate artificial insemination and deliberate destruction of zygotes.

Quite honestly I’ve never once heard IVF spoken of on a conservative-leaning radio talk show, written about in any politically partisan papers, or any other medium one would normally expect the topic to be broached if a consistent pro-life ethic were expected. Outside of Catholic publications and media American religious conservatives are pretty silent about it. So what gives? How do such individuals deal with the inconsistency? More importantly, are there any large, representative religious organizations (doesn’t even have to be Christian) that apply a more consistent ethic similar to that of the Catholic Church? If you good folks of CAF know of any official publications from such groups or of any prominent apologetics or political comments provided by representative members of such groups, I’d be very much interested in reading them.

NB: I used IVF as the best example I’ve observed given my own experiences, but the same could be said of embryonic stem cell research to a much smaller degree, or of certain forms of contraception that work post karyogamy. It gets even weirder when you meet a Christian who (1) believes life starts at conception, (2) that IVF is a moral means to dealing with infertility, and (3) that embryonic stem cell research is as immoral as abortion.

What is your response to a non-catholic Christian that believes in vitro is moral only if the couple involved commit to implant each resulting child 1 or 2 at a time? Is that morally consistent if they abhor the idea of destroying any and give all the chance of life?

To answer your question, no, no one is as consistently prolife as the Catholic Church. :slight_smile:

Evangelicals are more consistently against abortion/homosexual marriage than Catholics.

I’ll bring out the Pew study again; but quite frankly I’m tired of it. Lol.

For any given Evangelical or Catholic, yes, but that doesn’t address my question about internal consistency of an organization’s positions or those of any particular individual. If more Catholics support abortion than do Evangelicals this just means that Evangelicals are more likely to be pro-life, but it tells us nothing about how consistently they are pro-life. Homosexuality, on the other hand, is entirely irrelevant to pro-life issues.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I had a past boyfriend (we refer to him as Saint Maker) who subscribed to Playboy and was addicted to steroids. Anyways, before my reversion, before my Dad Died, I came across something shocking. There was an article in Playboy which said that artificial birth-control was increasing estrogen in the water supply when women digested and pee’d into the water supply. According to this Playboy/girl (IDK what’s what!!!) our water purifying system needs triple reverse osmosis to purify our water system from this estrogen. Well, ‘Saint Maker’ went on an evangelical quest looking for triple reverse osmosis water … Armed with the playboy artical, we wen to Whole Foods, Vitamine Cottage, and several gyms. In case you do not understand, body builders who use steriroids experience a surge of testosterone followed by a build up of estrogen. This is why they have rage and cry. Body builders are very concede about estrogen levels also because a build of of estrogen can cause man-boobs. So, this is why he went crazy about the artical. The shocking part came later when I was reading my catholic news paper (still not practicing catholic) and they had an artical about Streams near boulder colorado having problems with fish who were mutating due to estrogen caused by BCP’s not filtered by water company … What Playboy & Catholics agreeing on a same issue??? I thought hell was freezing over!!!
Still today, I come across lots of environmental stuff about BCP’s … I guess man-boob’s don’t freak most people out.


Who says that the insemination of an egg in a petri dish outside of an environment where a fetus can flourish is called conception? The zygote never has a chance at being viable life until it is implanted at which time, of course, it is not discarded.

The dictionary does, as does every biology textbook I’m familiar with. Conception/fertilization is defined as the fusion of gametic cells irrespective of where that fusion occurs, and has absolutely nothing to do with viability.

The zygote never has a chance at being viable life until it is implanted at which time, of course, it is not discarded.

Which may make for a good argument against the ethic that personhood begins at conception, but it is entirely irrelevant to my original post. This thread is about ethical consistency. Obviously this doesn’t apply to individuals or religions that do not teach that abortion is murder because a zygote is a person by virtue of their conception.

Ok, but we are talking here not about dictionary definitions or biology textbooks. We are talking about the Catholic definition of conception, or, to be more general, the religious definition of conception. For many people who don’t have a philosophical bent this is quite a subtle distinction, but in Jewish legal discussion it is a constant theme. Just as the same word may be applied with different meanings in different domains, so too with religion and medicine. To be sure, there is an interplay of science and metaphysics, such as where the definition of life is at issue, but we should be cautious of applying definitions from either domain too broadly to the other.

Now, I admit at the outset that I have no familiarity with official Catholic doctrines about the definition of conception or the beginning of life, but I’m willing to bet there’s a debate about it. The Jewish definition of the beginning of life is definitely different but that’s not our topic for now. I’m interested in why the insemination of an egg in vitro must by definition be called a living person by Catholic doctrine. Surely, prior to the late 20th century there is no precedent in religious literature or canon law on this topic. I can well understand how an embryo that has been assimilated into the womb would be called “alive” from then on. But- until then it represents a mass of cells and chemicals, that, were they to be implanted in the womb, would yield life. But consider this: by the same token, any lone egg and sperm also have the ability to unify, potentially, and create life, but so long as they do not, the concept of ‘murder’ does not apply to them. They are several steps away from being able to develop into life. Perhaps by the same token, an in vitro embryo that is several steps away from even being able to develop into viable life should not be yet considered alive.

Of course, I would imagine that the counter-argument to this would be that any embryo is by definition a person, and the womb is just an essential but extrinsic mechanism that enables the embryo to live, much like a life support machine (and we would agree that unplugging life support is tantamount to ending a life). However, my question remains: what is the proof that this is the real position of Catholic doctrine? What proofs can be deduced from authoritative texts to support this very strict definition? Perhaps the authors of Catholic religious literature, when they said the word “conception” always meant to include the unification of egg and sperm within the womb. Can this be disproven?

Which may make for a good argument against the ethic that personhood begins at conception, but it is entirely irrelevant to my original post. This thread is about ethical consistency. Obviously this doesn’t apply to individuals or religions that do not teach that abortion is murder because a zygote is a person by virtue of their conception.

I don’t quite understand your argument. Are you trying to distinguish between debating **whether **personhood begins at conception vs. whether, once this is a given, why there is inconsistency in the position of ‘religion X’? My contention is that the Catholic ethic of personhood beginning at conception need not contradict the morality of IVF.

If I may, I would add an important point that I forgot. Even if the Catholic church rejects IVF unanimously, the arguments I presented above could be used by any other religion endorsing the ‘life begins at conception ethic’ to be pro-IVF and still remain ethically consistent, which was the subject of your original post.

Perhaps it is important to examine the way in which the Roman Catholic Church tends to micromanage sexual and biomedical ethics as opposed to non-Catholic denominations. If the RCC has a hypothetical list of, say, ten things which are considered sinful because they prevent the possibility of life from either beginning or ending, then those ten things are taught to your members. It is sinful to use IVF, artificial birth control, to have an abortion, to have sex that is not open to conception, to withhold life support in normal cases, etc. The ‘why’ of it is not really argued philosophically by people in the pew, but rather left to the ethicists and authorities of the Church to try and explain it so that people understand and follow the teachings.

You just don’t have that ethical list handed out in non-Roman churches. It’s not the way churches do things. Some denominations may take one issue, like abortion or homosexuality, and say that it is against Biblical teaching, but that is the extent of it. You are trying to take a tightly controlled system of the RCC and use it as a lens to understand other churches and it does’t work that way.

That is pretty much why abortion and homosexuality are a stand-alone issue for some evangelicals, but the other things on the RCC list? Not so much.

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