Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Legislation was introduced into the Western Australian parliament this last week to make access to abortion easier. The aim is to facilitate the abortion of more unborn human beings than current legislation permits to be killed in the womb already.
This is the reality of the proposed legislation, no matter what language might be used to try to assuage feelings which the blunt reality stirs.
Our Christian responsibility in this situation
There is the claim that a survey was conducted which justifies the new legislation. However, we all know how surveys can be structured to produce any result interested parties want.
But, as Christians, we need to try to persuade others in our society of the need to respect and protect every human being, be they born or unborn. And we need to do what we can politically to promote the saving of human life, not legislate to permit its deliberate killing.
Jesus taught us of our obligation to teach others his commands.’ All of us who follow Christ are obliged by him to take every opportunity to explain to others that the deliberate killing of unborn babies violates two of his gravest commands.
The commandment to love all
In God’s eyes, all human beings are brothers and sisters. The first of Jesus’ commands is that we ‘love one another as I have loved you’. 2 He also taught ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. 3 He commands us to love all, including both troubled mothers and their unborn children.
Jesus was particularly concerned about those in need and the weakest. No one is more needy or weaker than an unborn child. A mother feeling under pressure to abolish her child due to difficult circumstances also needs our love. She is in a different position from anyone who does so for self-centred motives. This is why the Church has services for girls and women in difficult personal circumstances.
You shall not kill
God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai more than three thousand years ago. The Fifth commandment is ‘You shall not kill’. 4
The deliberate killing of an unborn child in a mother’s womb clearly breaks this Commandment. No human authority has the power to violate a law of God.
Jesus reinforced and deepened our understanding of the Fifth Commandment by forbidding even the deliberate entertaining of emotions and heart intentions which can lead to killing another, including destructive anger. 5
The teaching of the Apostles, as they handed on Jesus’ teachings to non-Jewish Christians, are found in the earliest Christian writing apait from the New Testament, called the Didache.
There, we read: ‘In accordance with the precept: ‘You shall not kill’ … you shall not put a child to death by abo1tion or kill it once it is born … The way of death is this … they kill their children and by abortion cause God’s creatures to perish’. 6 Tertullian, another early Christian teacher, explained: ‘It is anticipated murder to prevent someone being born … the one who will one day be a human being is a human being already’. 7
The need to do all that we can to protect the unborn
The Fifth Commandment also requires us to try to save those whose lives are in danger and to protect human life. We all admire surf life savers, emergency services members, firefighters and others who even risk their own lives to save others. The Fifth Commandment requires us in the same way to do whatever we can to save the lives of unborn babies. While no one has the right to judge those whose children have been abo1ted deliberately, it is our obligation to try to save the lives of the unborn – to love both mothers and their unborn children. Judgement is the realm of God.
The mercy of God
Mothers who have had abortions need to be reminded always of God’s love for them and the mercy and forgiveness believers can experience through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is in God that the sincerely and genuinely repentant find renewed peace. For many who have made the decision to abort their child, the circumstances were painful and they have been left feeling shattered. Their hearts have been left wounded. In hope, they can entrust their unborn child to the God of love. They can also ask their child for forgiveness.
Those accountable ultimately to God
Commonly, there are many who share responsibility for the abortion of a child. There may be the father who pressures the mother to have her unborn baby killed or encourages this by leaving her feeling alone. There can be parents, family members and friends who try to persuade her if she is reluctant. Pregnant mothers can be put under strong psychological pressure.
Then there are the doctors and medical staff who carry out the killing. There are too the parliamentarians who approve abortion legislation.
Proposed violation of freedom of conscience medical staff
The proposed legislation tabled in parliament last week also seeks to force doctors who cannot be involved in conscience in the killing of unborn babies to refer those wanting abortions to other doctors who are willing to do this. This is an attempt to violate their consciences and to force them to become accomplices in the killing.
It follows that other medical staff will also be pressured to violate their consciences.
There is a foolish inconsistency in government promoting respect campaigns when they legislate the violation of respect for both human life and freedom of conscience. Legislated disrespect for human beings at their weakest undermines respect for others.
Accountability to God
From earliest biblical times, God has made clear: ‘I will demand an accounting for human life’. 8 This will include all who share responsibility for the abortion of a single child, or who try to force doctors and medical staff to become accomplices in this when they have to account for their lives after their deaths.
More widely, there are those who encourage the risk of abortions by accepting sexual pe1missiveness and sexual relationships outside marriage, regardless of gender, which, again, was condemned by Jesus and the Sixth Commandment. 9
It is claimed by some that abortion is a women’s health issue. But the deliberate killing of another’s human life is never a form of medical treatment. And, to love mother and child means that the health of both is equally important.
Some speak of a woman’s rights over her own body. But this is simply an attempt to justify the ignoring of the moral responsibilities of a mother towards the body and well-being of her unborn baby. Genetically, the reality is that the life conceived in the womb is a different life from that of the mother.
The body of an unborn child is not the body of its mother. Abortion is a failure ultimately to love either mother or child, given the risk of psychological harm to the mothers of ab01ied children.
And no one loses their God-given rights because they depend upon another for their life, be they in a coma or disabled – or unborn.
As well as rights, we all have responsibilities towards others. This includes accepting responsibility towards those conceived as a consequence of sexual relationships.
There is the attempted argument too that a baby is not a human person from the moment the ovum is fertilised. But the empirical reality is that the child’s DNA programme has been set already and that their human development began at conception.
The genetic programme of the conceived person already has established their life long physical and other personal characteristics. All their gifts too are present potentially, awaiting the proper time for their emergence and eventual use.
Finally, in a society in which many objectify others by their physical appearances so that there is racism, ageism and the focus on others as ‘sex objects’, there are those too who refuse to recognise babies at the earliest stages of their development as human because of their appearances. As this attitude has led to racial, unjustly discriminatory and sexual crimes, it leads also to abortion.
Media speak of the proposed abortion legislation as ‘progressive’. But whether something is progressive or not can only be determined by whether the outcome it leads to is better.
For those who think attitudes and values are progressive only if they lead to a happier society, many current attitudes, values and practices are regressive. Can anyone suggest seriously that current allegedly ‘progressive’ trends are leading to a happier society?
Self harm and suicide by young people are increasing; so are drug dependency and other addictions. More and more lack a sense of wellbeing and direction; violence is increasing and domestic violence is peaking.
Loneliness seems to be in plague proportions; relationships often seem not to last and mutual commitment is increasingly difficult to find. Marriage and family life are breaking down.
There are many other possible examples. The symbolic biblical story of the Tower of Babel highlights too how societies which ignore God become divided.
The last Commonwealth census established the continued rise in the number of those today who have no interest in religion. Is there any surprise that our society is becoming increasingly divided?
Surely progress in a society needs to be assessed by whether its members are growing in happiness and peace in their hearts.
Throughout history, the failure of some to defend the rights of minorities has led to many crimes becoming accepted as the norm. If we fail to do what we can to present Christian teaching as it relates to killing unborn children to others, are we not complicit it the result.
Let us live our Christian calling by fulfilling his command ‘to teach them all the commands I gave you’. 10 And let us take every opportunity to promote the Christian obligation to love both child and mother.
1 Matthew 28:20
2 John 15:12
3 Luke 10:27
4 Exodus 20: 13
5 Matthew 5:21-22
6 Didache I, I: JI, 2
7 Apologetics IX,
8 Genesis 9:5
9 Mark 7:22; Exodus 20: 14
10 Matthew 28:20