Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Abortion | What You Need to Know

Abortion is the greatest single scourge of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, claiming far more innocent lives than any other threat, including war, poverty, starvation and natural disasters. This grave moral evil is also the centerpiece of the contemporary culture wars which divide most Western nations, particularly the United States, which is split almost evenly.

The abortion problem has so many medical, psychological, political, economic, and cultural ramifications—including its contribution to a growing culture of death—that it is impossible to cover all important aspect of it in three documents. Still, it is wise to begin an examination of this question with a definition of abortion, including the distinction between direct and indirect abortion, and a clear statement of the Church’s unchanging moral position.

It is also necessary to understand that the evil of abortion can be known not only from Church teaching but from the natural law. In fact, the natural law provides all that we need to know to determine the immorality of direct abortion and the morality of indirect abortion in certain circumstances. Closely related to abortion in this regard are such matters as euthanasia, in vitro fertilization, embryonic stem cell research, and human cloning (which merit separate topics).

Some Catholic dissidents, who have been too influenced by the surrounding culture, have tried to justify abortion by arguing that the Catholic tradition on this issue is confused or unclear. A careful look at the history of the Church’s position easily refutes this claim, and is important for discussions within the Church herself.

Many other considerations are also very apt, making the “If you have more time” section unusually important in this case.

Essential Perspective

  1. What Is Abortion?
  2. Abortion: Correct Application of Natural Law Theory
  3. The Roman Catholic Church and Abortion: An Historical Perspective

Extra Reading

Abortion is closely related to sterilization and contraception; the psychological well-being of women, men and children; the health of the family; socio-economic patterns, materialism and consumerism; and of course politics. Here are four related documents which will provide brief orientations to several of these subsidiary topics:

Other areas which bear study include the general relationship between abortion and what Pope John Paul II called the “culture of death”, the question of whether pro-abortion politicians should be denied communion, the use of government funds for abortion, the West’s determination to export an abortion culture to the third world, and so on. Information on these related issues may be found by searching the library.