Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. ~Pope Francis, Praised Be: On Care for Our Common Home, §120.
Having now read Praised Be several times, I am slowly working my way back through the Encyclical section by section. Today I reached §120, where I was confronted by the sentence quoted above. Since the entire section isn't that long, let me quote it in its entirety.
Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? "If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away".
The sub-quote at the end is from Pope Benedict's Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth) (29 June 2009), §28.
Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fibre and makes people capable of mutual help. (Emphasis in the original.)
These principles resonate with me, so where do I stand on abortion?
I was in medical school when the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Young as I was, I applauded this legal decision at the time, and I've supported it throughout my medical career. I support it today. So how do I reconcile this stance with my growing concern for all vulnerable beings?
As I started writing this, my plan had been to articulate a nuanced defense of my position. Instead, I've now decided to leave the question open, to continue wrestling with it. How should our society encourage reverence for life? How do we overcome our culture of violence? How do we learn to live together with respect and dignity, and with compassion?