Morality

passing thoughts: abortion exceptions?

Baby Samuel reached out and grabbed the surgeons finger during a crucial in utero surgery. The photographer became a pro-life activist after this.I can still remember my first pro-life rally. I was a pleasantly plump fifth grader with my family on the steps of the Oklahoma City courthouse, holding our Knights of Columbus pro-life signs, showing our support for all human life, separated only by the accident of birth.

Because of the Catholic Church's consistent stance against abortion and my family's pro-life commitment (my dad is a sidewalk counselor), I grew up assuming that if you were Christian, you must be anti-abortion. I could not understand how one could reconcile the Sermon on the Mount with abortion, though many of my Protestant friends were mostly against abortion, except for the "hard cases". 

And this has always bothered me.

Abortion either is or is not the killing of an innocent human person. If it is not, then there should be no fuss, no protests, no worrying. It would just be another surgical procedure, another feminine issue that's left to doctors and not politicians or priests. But if the fetus is an innocent human person, then all of the claims of women's rights, autonomy, or social benefits are null and void. Justice demands the claims of life always supersede.

Many of my friends would make comments like: "I am mostly against abortion, except in cases of rape or incest, or the life of the mother. But other than that, I'm pro-life."

Such a position is intellectually inconsistent and dangerous. The abortion choicers are at least consistent: either the fetus is a not person worthy of rights, or its claims are secondary to the woman's, thus abortion is licit. However, it is inconsistent to assert that the fetus is an innocent human person, that it has a right to life, but due to certain outside conditions, their personhood or right to life is overruled.

It's like saying: "You are a person, unless your daddy was a rapist. Then your mommy can kill you for it."

This inconsistency is bought on by pro-lifers who do not want to appear "heartless" in the eyes of the culture surrounding them for the hard cases. They don't want abortion for moms who had consensual sex, but then they view the baby resulting from rape (who, let us be clear, had no choice in his father) as being, what?, "life unworthy of life"? A baby from a rape, from incest, IVF, cloning, or from consensual sex is still a human person, innocent of all the crimes preceding his/her existence, even if that existence is brought to be due to a crime. The child remains a person, and blameless. We ought not to punish the child for the father's crimes. 

Abortion choicers will say that it is wrong to impose an obligation on the mother - gestation and birth - for something that she never voluntarily consented to, but even this claim cannot override the innocent baby's right to life.

My daugher, Kateri Marie Gormley, at 3 months old, enjoying school.So, now she's a pregnant rape victim trying to figure out what to do next, and the culture of death immediately defaults to abortion. And those who are supposed to be witnesses to the light of life are instead giving moral cover to this death sentence. Two lives are undone, but one of those lives will not be able to heal. The answer to violence is not more violence.

Amazingly, many mothers who have the baby after a rape find healing through raising their child. They see this beautiful little life as a good that was brought out of evil. The birth of a baby whose father was a rapist is the incarnation of the hope for healing. Sexual violence does not have to be the end, the extinguishing of a woman's future. Creating a culture of life that refuses the death-as-default-response ought to be there for every victim of rape or incest. Dr. David Reardon, in his article addressing these issues, speaks about Julie Makimaa, who was "conceived by an act of rape." This young woman:

"works diligently against the perception that abortion is acceptable or even necessary in cases of sexual assault. While sympathetic to the suffering her mother endured at the hands of her attacker, Julie is also rightfully proud of her mother's courage and generosity. Regarding her own view of her origin, Julie proclaims: 'It doesn't matter how I began. What matters is who I will become.'"

Keeping abortion legal because of these hard cases is immoral because the latest statistics are showing us that these cases make up less than 1% of all abortions! The official stats, U.S. and worldwide, are showing that the number of abortion for these hard cases is virtually zero. 

Never has so little been used to compromise so much. We need a consistent ethic of life!