Friday, August 28, 2015

Abortion and Ecology

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?

1 comment:

  1. Here goes again...i just wrote a response to this and when I went to publish it had disappeared...I have always been opposed to abortion but primarily because of the sanctity of human life. When Roe vs Wade was passed I believe it was the beginning of the demoralization of our country. We opened up Pandora's box and are now having to live and try and "fix" all the problems that have resulted from that action.

    As a teenager in high school and college prior to Roe vs Wade we had the same raging hormones as teenagers since. The difference is, we had to think long and hard on just how far we were willing to go short of intercourse. We didn't have birth control to prevent pregnancy so we didn't have intercourse. We didn't have abortions at our fingertips so we didn't have intercourse. That doesn't mean we weren't passionate, it just means we stopped short of penetration. As a human sexuality teacher I was now having to teach how abortions were preformed, the best way to avoid STD's, relationship violence in teen relationships when he wants it and you don't...and on and on! How does someone stop eating meat because of the inhumane way animals in slaughter houses are treated and not be outraged that babies are being aborted every day? How do we argue against gun control when we have taught our children that life has no value from the point of conception? If you are faced with an unwanted pregnancy then simply have an abortion. While I was teaching, I had an ob/gyn that worked with me in my classes. One day he told me that he had stopped doing abortions because women were not having them for critical medical reasons but rather for convenience so that they could hide the affairs they were having. So many of societal problems, in my humble opinion channel right back to Roe vs Wade. Why should man be concerned about climate change or unpurified water or war when we show no regard for human life while still in the womb? We are sending a mixed message. From the Christian point of view, if we choose to have a sexual relationship either in marriage or outside of it, we are running the risk of pregnancy. Who doesn't know that? Whether this pregnancy was planned or not we have a God that is right there with us to help us through any struggles we may face raising the child. Pro-choice individuals will scream, "what about child abuse, human trafficing, and on and on". Well, yes what about those issues? When we as humans truly accept responsibility for our actions many of these issues will become less of an issue...God has a plan for everyone...what right do we have to railroad those plans? When again, we show no regard for human life and then we are supposed to be concerned about a species of fish becoming extinct or the climate changing and unpurified water being the only source of water for millions of children I think we have our priorities mixed up. You know me and you know that ALL of these issues are concerns of mine but no one issue is more important to me than preserving the lives of millions of babies being aborted each year...IMHO