Should you tell someone about to have an abortion that they will be excommunicated if they do it?

I find myself torn on this issue. If i tell the person, then i will have effectively sent them to hell because they will have now knowingly committed the abortion in full knowledge that they would be excommunicated if they did it.

But if i don’t tell them, then there would still be a chance they might go to heaven even though they committed the abortion. So, should you tell the person or not?

If you have a friend who is seriously contemplating abortion, you have bigger fish to fry. I would suggest counsel and encouragement to go to a local crisis pregnancy center or Catholic Charities for both material and spiritual support.

You seem to have some serious misunderstandings about excommunication, hell and your role in sending someone there. Hint: it’s not possible for you to send anyone to hell except yourself.

Abortion is the mortal sin.

Excommunication is an ecclesiastical penalty.

I think you should readjust your priorities.

I see it as your duty to inform this person. We must rebuke their sins (Luke 17:3), and this absolutely includes potential sin (even better: we can prevent it!). You might save a child and a woman’s soul at once if you do this. It is not your fault if she were to go through with it (and may God forbid this). It is her own fault, unfortunately (and may God have mercy).

God bless you and may you make the decision that Christ would.

Women in crisis considering abortions generally don’t need rebuking, they need help.

I would encourage people without much experience in this area to take some training from a crisis pregnancy center. They can help you know what to say to a woman considering an abortion.

Having literature on hand from would also be helpful. I have literature handy for when I need it.

This is Respect Life month. So, let’s love them both.

Yes, I understand this and there is no disagreement, but I am only referencing the text (as most translations use that). Of course, no sin was committed (and I would not add “yet”), and we must do what we can for both mother and child out of our moral duty.

Abortion is always grave matter, not necessarily a mortal sin. And to boot, the OP is, or at least was, under the impression that his dissemination of knowledge is enough for the person hearing it to be in full understanding that what they are doing is wrong.

You haven’t sent anybody to hell. Where in the world do you get that misinformation. They can always repent of the horrible sin of abortion.

the abortion is grave matter whether there is ex-communication or not. they are separate issues.

the church, in her prudence, has decided that abortion is a grave enough sin to warrant the ecclesiastical penalty of ex-communication.

you are right to be worried about your friend, if you are in a situation where someone close to you is contemplating this. however, mentioning that they will be excommunicated may or may not be helpful in this situation.

and the main determining factor of this would be, are they actually going to care whether they are ex-communicated or not? which I think in most scenarios, they probably won’t

I think you would be better off trying ot explain why the child they are carrying is precious and how the destroying of human life is not what we should be doing. and presenting to them feasible, alternative options

They can always repent, but if they went ahead with the abortion with the full knowledge they would be excommunicated …they’re not likely to. If excommunication doesn’t deter them, they’re not likely to repent later on. Though yes of course in a few small cases, this does occur.

I’m assuming the person in question is catholic?

maybe ex-communication will deter them, but if the idea of a probably mortal sin doesn’t deter them, I don’t see how an ecclesiastical penalty will

You should help your friend to make the correct decision. In the very unlikely event that your friend does not realize that the Church considers abortion to be a grave sin, you should include that information in your discussions with your friend.

But you are NOT the one to pass sentence on your friend and in my opinion, you should not pretend to have the power or authority to do so. G-d is the only power to send any soul to Hell. And if I remember my Canons correctly, excommunication can only be declared as the sentence of an ecclesiastical court. Until and unless there is such a declaration by the court, well, I see no point in discussing automatic excommunication vs. ferendae sententiae excommunication.

In any event, abortion is a very serious undertaking, and your friend needs compassion and understanding and help to avoid making this wrong decision. Get your friend the help she needs, instead of condemning her!

Tell them! I did when one friend was planning an abortion! She ended up keeping it!
You can’t just let someone commit murder! She can be forgiven if she repents but a life is in danger right now

Hi, Harry!
Those who commit abortions (pregnant woman, doctor, nurse, husband/boyfriend/lover, parents, siblings, friends, counselor…) they are all guilty of murder and become excommunicated by default (the act itself commits them to excommunication).

We are called to be sentinels–our jobs is to let others know the Will of God. If people listen, we have gained them for God. If people refuse to listen we will not be held responsible for them by God.

Anyone committed to a sinful life will never see Heaven. There are those who are truly ignorant of the Truth–God’s Mercy will visit them. Then there are those who in their callousness pretend to be ignorant–God’s Judgment will visit them.

The Church has preached the follies and unrighteousness of abortion since the court pretended to be ignorant of biology (human seed cannot but produce a human being), so those who commit themselves to the culture of death will have no excuse when meeting their Maker.

Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to be God’s sentinel (both through preaching the word of Life and through living the Word of God); you must counsel/correct in love, patience and understanding… but you must counsel!

Maran atha!


Hi, Mike!
The Church has determined that abortion merits excommunication:

The Catholic Church opposes all forms of abortion procedures whose direct purpose is to destroy an embryo, blastocyst, zygote or fetus, since it holds that “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 being to life."[1] However, it does recognize as morally legitimate certain acts which indirectly result in the death of the fetus, as when the direct purpose is removal of a cancerous womb. Canon 1398 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law imposes automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication on Latin Catholics who procure a completed abortion,[2] if they fulfill the conditions for being subject to such a sanction.[3] (

The act itself holds those involved guilty under the penalty of excommunication.

Maran atha!


[quote=Angell1]the church, in her prudence, has decided that abortion is a grave enough sin to warrant the ecclesiastical penalty of ex-communication.


This is an incorrect understanding of the notion of the ecclesiastical penalty of excommunication.

Abortion is always grave matter.

Sometimes, abortion is a mortal sin. For instance, if the person is being coerced into having the abortion, mortal sin does not attach.

Sometimes, the ecclesiastical penalty of excommunication applies. When it does, it does so without an explicit statement from the Church. However, it does not always apply.

Therefore: not all abortions are mortal sin, and not all abortions result in excommunication.

You will have to judge whether what you would say will do more good than harm. I’m inclined to doubt it.

Hi, Gorgias!
…I’m one of those hard heads that believe that if people are responsible enough to have sexual relations they are responsible enough to know the consequences… that ole hollowood babble “…had an accident…” was done right at its injection into the vernacular.

Though the Church is always seeking to be lenient as she cites ignorance and mitigating circumstances, other than forced (physically/emotionally compelled) to commit to an abortion (have/do) those involved are guilty of the abortion. Those who are guilty of the abortion are, by the act, excommunicate (re-read the cited material).

People are always claiming ignorance and innocence–there are times when there is in fact such a state… yet, for the most part, people who commit to wrong doing/sin do so knowingly as they seek the opportunity (time, place, partner/s) in which to engage in the deed/act. …have you noticed those in your parish that do not receive the Eucharist? Are they not the same people… many years later (and/or in other parishes) you will find them in the same state–though I do not deem them greater sinners than I, I know that whatever is keeping them from receiving the Eucharist can be resolve if they reject the state (sin) which keeps them from being full participants in the Mass. Obviously they’ve “chosen” not to change.

Rejection of Church Teachings does not equate to ignorance/innocence. Though there are levels of culpability, even atheists know that is wrong to kill!

Maran atha!


First off you cannot send anyone to Hell. Second, being excommunicated does not send anyone to Hell.
Everyone has until their dying breath to repent, sincerely confess and have any excommunication lifted and be saved.

Also, if a person having an abortion does not know that such is a sin of grave matter then they have not even committed a mortal sin by having the abortion.
Then, even if they do know and thereby commit a mortal sin by having the abortion they are only excommunicated in addition if they know that sin carries such a penalty.

Only tell them if you think it will influence them to not go through with it.

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