The Public Discussion, Legality, and Morality of Abortion
in the United States

The topic is returning to the public square, if it ever left. It seems there are three separate discussions going on surrounding the leaked draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. Each of them is important in a different way, and each of them is quite separate.

Yesterday, I had a friend post a meme that said, "if it was really about babies, mothers would be provided free healthcare. If it was really about babies, women would I have parental leave for six months or more. If it was really about babies…" it went on to list six or seven different things that would be the case if "it" we're really about babies.

At first my response was to understand what "it" is, as the subject of the meme.  I came up with three options but perhaps there are more: 1) the public discussion, 2) the legality of abortion, or 3) the morality of abortion. The meme seems to be pointing out the cost on women bearing babies. Or perhaps the justices' pending legal decision has not taken into account the burden on women of bearing babies. Or lastly perhaps the moral issue itself of whether or not abortion is good or bad could be determined by the consequences it has on women.

The first option is the most understandable and palatable. Perhaps this is merely a complaint that not often is enough consideration given to whether mothers can (or should) handle their pregnancies. The Catholic Church runs hundreds of programs across the United States for this very purpose. Their goal is to provide for the needs of expecting mothers. There's also need for the fathers of children's not to abandon their responsibility to the child they helped conceive.

Second, apart from the issue of whether abortion is morally wrong, should it be made illegal? Saint Thomas Aquinas believed that not all things that are morally reprehensible according to natural law should be made illegal according to civil or positive law, for example, prostitution. The reason was that banning it may in the and make things worse for the common good. Not all things, but somethings should. He made no comment on the legality of abortion. The Catholic Church however has made clear that of all the social justice issues that are important, activism in any of them means very little without the right to life, upon which all social justice is founded. If there is no right to life - from womb to tomb - there is no social justice. Thus the Catholic Church has consistently supported making abortion illegal (in fact keeping it illegal, since it was almost always illegal before 1973). The recent judgments by the Supreme Court justices are not their arbitrary whims, philosophical musings, or sidings with political groups, but rather their attempt to interpret the Constitution.

Last the morality of abortion is being discussed again. The morality is of course the most important matter to settled and understood. The vast majority of abortions take place because the babies are considered to be an inconvenience. When I say inconvenience I mean that the mother's life is not threatened, nor is it an unreasonable burden to bear. Of course there are cases where the life of the mother is threatened. But even here, the church teaches that intentional taking over human life is never allowable. And that is exactly what abortion is. The child is innocent.

In all three of these layers which result from my friends meme, however, I noticed one thing is not mentioned: responsibility. The assumption made is that the mother or father could not have become responsible for the child, but rather it was forced upon them. Fate "determined" them to have a child, as if a stork showed up one day and left the baby on the front step. But there's one thing that works impeccably well in making sure that responsibility does not come about: abstinence from sex. The church's teaching on contraception is a whole other matter, but the reason the church has consistently taught that responsibility of childbearing finds its home in marriage only, is because, although there are no guarantees of success, at least the commitments and responsibilities are in place to raise a child successfully. Without marriage, there is chaos. Of course husbands leave their wives, neighbors and welfare sometimes fail to provide, and businesses take advantage of mothers. But there is no instrument more stabilizing for women than the institution of marriage, an institution which is being systematically disassembled today by those who wish to reduce it to a sexually or mutually beneficial contract if not entirely dissolve it. 

What intrigues me about my friends post is how the decline of morality begins to justify its own advances by previous advances. A husband or man is not living up to his responsibility of taking care of the woman he got pregnant and the child? So abortion is the solution, not enforcing that responsibility? That doesn't make sense. Maybe women should be allowed to have parental leave for much longer time, but should that issue really determine whether someone lives or dies? I think not.

Pornography, divorce, contraception, abortion, gay "marriage," and now gender confusion seem to all follow on each other logically, and buttress each other once culturally acceptable, as reasons to retain the others. Pornography destroys marriages and causes divorce. It also reduces the marital act to mere sexual pleasure rather than procreation, an almost inherently contraceptive mentality. This mentality encourages a view of childbirth as a burden rather than a blessing. And of course once procreation is no longer an essential component, but rather a burden, what is s different about a man and a man "marrying?" In fact, what is so different about a man who thinks he is a woman, marrying another man who thinks she is a man? Procreation has been removed from a relationship, and a relationship has been removed from supporting procreation

It is cliche, but true: in the end, one question really matters. Is the conceived child a human being with rights? Do "we" have responsibility towards it? Only after answering that question should the parents, and we ourselves ask the cost of the responsibility.

The world is imperfect, but it really is about babies.

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