A Catholic-themed opinion blog about various topics, including theology, philosophy, politics and culture, from a Thomistic perspective.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Gospel of Life

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people around the world march in rallies for the purpose of overturning their government's protection and their countrymen's support of the worst genocide in history: abortion. In the US alone, since its legalization in 1973, over 50 million human beings have been murdered by the very people most responsible for their well-being: their mothers and their doctors. More than one-third of the approximately 205 million pregnancies that occur worldwide annually are unintended, and about 20% of all pregnancies end in induced abortion.This genocide has been given every excuse and justification that the fallen, vain human mind can conjure, yet all of them lack real basis in reason, revelation or science. Reason attests that something is human when it exhibits the attributes of humanity: a unique, individual, incarnate substance of a rational nature. Science proves that an unborn baby possesses a human body, genetically distinct from any other human that has ever lived, from the moment of conception. And revelation reveals to us the personhood, the inalienable dignity and the divine origin and end of these new human beings made in the image of God.

By virtue of their humanity, we can know that every unborn child deserves love, protection and sustenance. Yet, the judges in the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in 1973, Roe vs. Wade, were able to deny reason, revelation, and science, on the basis of two propositions: only the mother has authority over the life of her unborn child (privacy); and an unborn human being is not a person until a certain point during the pregnancy (viability). These have formed the foundation of pro-abortion philosophy ever since, eventually developing into an abyss of relativism whereby there are no particular limitations on either of these qualifying standards. Women can now have an abortion for any reason, and at any time, in most parts of the US, while regions that attempt to restrict these 'rights' are often defeated by the courts. And in more recent times, they have even coaxed government funding and popular support in the media and entertainment industry, championed as one of the great 'civil rights' issues of our time.

Now, after these 40 years of privatized, excused, and government-funded genocide, we live in a country that every day murders over 3,000 of its own citizens, its own fellow human persons, with the approval of the government and a large part of the general population. Over a million human beings are murdered every year in the US - before they are even given a chance to live on their own. Imagine how many friends, how many spouses, children, grandchildren, leaders, innovators, workers, artists, have died over the past 40 years. We balk so easily at the genocide of the Holocaust, or the killings in Soviet Russia and Communist China, or the Armenian Genocide - yet, every day we are perpetuating the worst genocide in history, both in quantity and quality, for we are murdering the most innocent, helpless people in the world. Less than 1% of abortions are due to rape, incest or the endangerment of the mother's life - most are done for emotional, financial or other reasons of convenience. But, there is no cause of pregnancy than can reduce or abolish the human dignity of an unborn child.

Earlier, I said that by virtue of their humanity, all unborn children have dignity. I also said that we can identify this through revelation. Accordingly, our society has become increasingly secularized and morally bankrupt as the influence of Christianity has waned or become distorted, as the Supreme Court judges showed in 1973. Without the formation of conscience by the truth and grace of Christianity, even the keenest reason will be led astray even into grave evils. Through force of will and the coercion of intellect, as well as through ignorance or confusion, our conscience can become quiet, thereby allowing us to violate its moral guidance. What can deter us from doing this? Without any preconceived notions or beliefs, what can give us the idea that humanity has worth intrinsically, and deserves to be treated with dignity merely by virtue of itself? Reason and science alone cannot penetrate this mystery. Not even conscience can give us this level of objective truth to back up what it tells us. Only a transcendent, divine, creative God can give something intrinsic, inalienable dignity beyond its apparent nature.

The political and social work of the Church, of all Christians, for the sake of undoing abortion must proceed from an evangelical spirit. While we can, out of charity, offer aid and support to victims of abortion and lend our voice to all those united against abortion for the common good, we must understand that the dictates of reason and conscience can only go so far in motivating a pro-life attitude. This is why we see so many people who are pro-life while permitting abortion in certain circumstances, as if an unborn child becomes less human if s/he is conceived in a difficult situation, or as if the mother or doctor should play God by murdering a baby to preserve the life of the mother (something which is a medically hypothetical practice at any rate, if not impossible). Only the truth that each individual human being becomes a human person at the moment of conception, receiving a newly-created soul from God at that moment, made in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, whereby humanity itself is sanctified and given innate, inalienable dignity - only this can provide sufficient motivation to be completely and utterly pro-life despite all the difficulties and confusions this can bring.

As we the Church work to end abortion in the world, we must remember the basis for our labors. The prevailing ideologies of modern governments, especially in the West, are not based on Christianity, especially not orthodox, traditional Christianity. They do not base their actions on what we teach, and those individuals government officials that do are frequently marginalized, even discriminated against. To change this world, to transform this global culture of death into a civilization of love, we must convert the hearts and minds of individual people, to show them the face of Jesus Christ in every human being, born or unborn. We must show non-Christians that the good they work for in their pro-life activities is derived from a loving God from whom all goodness derives and without whom all goodness is dependent on human perception. And, above all, we must work to correct fellow Christians, showing them that a "pro-choice Christian" is impossible.

I hope and pray that the efforts of all those involved in the pro-life movement, both Christian and non-Christian, may be fruitful in leading our world towards a society that acknowledges the dignity and beauty of each and every human life, regardless of age, gender, finance, or religion, and that, no matter how terrible and tragic the circumstances of a pregnancy, the mother has been given a gift from God, a gift that can act as a tonic for the pain that they have gone through. Let us no longer perpetuate this terrible, tragic genocide, but work towards building a global civilization of life and love! God bless!