Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thoughts on Abortion

It seems that every four years the national conversation turns once again to the perennial moral questions of the day. Preeminent among them is abortion. In discussing the topic and debating it in my mind, I've sometimes struggled with the issue of abortion and rape and incest. Many politicians support pro-life views, except for in the case of rape or incest, or in the event that continuing the pregnancy will endanger the life of the mother. I've always had the conviction that even in the case of rape or incest, abortion should not be allowed but I've never had a strong case in my mind.

Recently I was debating the topic with a good friend of mine. He stated the position that though he would never encourage a woman to abort her child, he didn't feel comfortable having the state legislate a prohibition against a woman who suffered rape or incest being able to choose for herself. I stated that I believed that it was indeed the moral responsibility of the state to protect life, even in such a tragic situation.

He then posed the possibility of a woman who was gang-raped by five men, and who was now impregnated by one of them--which one she couldn't possibly know. He asked me how I would view such a tragic situation.

I told him that I believed that for her to abort her child would be to bring about a greater evil to herself than the rape itself.

He seemed shocked that I would say so, and suggested that I had a sliding scale for evil.

I told him why I felt this way. By aborting the baby, the woman who has suffered such a tragic injustice moves from being a victim to becoming a perpetrator. She has answered victimization by inflicting violence on someone as innocent as her. It by no means diminishes the hellishness of the crime against her, but I believe that to abort her child would be more damaging to her soul and psyche than the rape, and indeed by consciously choosing to protect the life within her, she proclaims power over her assailants, and that through the grace of God, the life that grows within her can help redeem the pain of such a tragic injury.

To encourage, or enable abortion out of a false sense of charity is to do injustice to a woman's inherent dignity. It is misguided and bespeaks a lack of wisdom. For this very reason, I can never vote for Obama or any pro-choice candidate. I cannot trust a man or woman who has a distorted view of compassion or charity in the case of the most innocent lives.

In short, Obama is not wise enough for me to vote for him.


ali said...

totally in agreement with you, dan.

a woman who has aborted a rape/incest child is not only a victim of the sin of rape, but then she feels pressure from our culture that there is no other choice but to commit and even worse sin (murder) by aborting this innocent child. This is why women that have followed through with this sort of abortion say that when they finally seek out healing through therapy, the worst part is dealing with the aftermath of the abortion, not the rape.

another good way of explaining it to the "pro-life except when rape/incest" people is to say....look, not even the gang of rapists got the death penalty for this crime, why should the innocent child?

Scott Lyons said...

"To encourage, or enable abortion out of a false sense of charity is to do injustice to a woman's inherent dignity. It is misguided and bespeaks a lack of wisdom. For this very reason, I can never vote for Obama or any pro-choice candidate. I cannot trust a man or woman who has a distorted view of compassion or charity in the case of the most innocent lives."

So with this paragraph being at the end of a post on "abortion except in the case of," then for whom do you vote?

While Obama certainly has even graver problems with this life issue, this is McCain's position. Plus embryonic stem cell research.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but what's the lesser of two evils, Scott?

O= abortion + embryonic research
M= embryonic research

I don't understand how you can call yourself a Catholic and support Obama.

I encourage anyone who wants to know what Catholics really believe to tune into or You will hear the voice of the Church that is in union with Rome.

paul said...

If I may butt in (what the heck, this is a public blog, I'm just commenting), Scott makes a good observation.

McCain's position on the incest/rape piece of the abortion issue is sadly misguided and should be set straight. What I consider a hopeful sign is he has chosen a 100% NRLC-rated VP.

Overall, I would tend to characterize this McCain position as a dark cloud in McCain's otherwise pro-life sky. It's not picture perfect.

The contrasting skyscape & other choice, of course, would be absolute devestation via the mother-of-all abortion hurricanes & the worst possible option (relative to the abortion issue, anyway).

Unfortunately, the political process rarely deals us perfect candidates. We will nearly always have some misgivings, some tension about our candidate choices. We try to choose the one with the least conflicts to our conscience, to be sure, recognizing that our hope is ultimately not in politicians.

There's so much more that could be said, but this is a blog & I must return to my day job. But, I'm curious for Dan's reply, too.

Scott Lyons said...


I don't support Obama. I like him and I don't like people calling him (or anybody else) Moloch or the anti-Christ, but I don't support him. If he were as "pro-life" as McCain, I'd even vote for him. (And I did say in my comment that Obama's problems on abortion were far graver than McCain's.)

But Dan's post is about the wisdom of supporting someone who does an injustice to a woman's dignity by positing abortion-in-the-case-of scenarios. I'm just pointing out that this is the position of the GOP.

As far as whether I can call myself Catholic, I throw myself on God's mercy. I am a sinner, anon. There's no argument from me on that point.

Scott Lyons said...

Forgive the tangent, Dan, but let me make one further comment to Anon., if you would.

Anon., I appreciate your passion for protecting the unborn and for Catholicism. Though you apparently don't think I do, I share that same passion. Nevertheless, we have to be careful when we use phrases like "I don't understand how you can call yourself a Catholic and ..."

We are Catholics because of our baptism, our faith, our lives lived in the Church. Not because we are or are not sinners. We are Catholic because of Christ. Now if I were for abortion (and I am not), then I would be culpable of grave evil. But that means that I need a better-formed conscience, it means I need a spirit of repentance and the grace of God's forgiveness in the sacrament of Reconciliation. It means I need your prayers. It does not mean that I am not a Catholic.

Peace be with you, Anon. Pray for me.

Dan said...

I didn't know that this was McCain's stance.

I fear I won't be voting in the upcoming election.

paul said...

Fear not, brother Dan.

As we know, the candidates are imperfect (as are we!). But there's a HUGE difference between imperfect and imperfect in terms of the potential impact on lives.

The National Right to Life Committee data indicates that less than one half of one percent of US abortions are performed for reasons related to rape or incest.

Should the one half of one percent be sacrificed? Certainly no. But should over 99% be summarily sacrificed because all 100% aren't protected?

Anonymous said...

From Anon to Scott,

You are right, I should not have said, "I don't know how you can call yourself a Catholic..." I'm sorry, should not have gone there. Please forgive me, it was wrong for me to say. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings.

It is just a pet peeve of mine when perceived liberal Catholics imply that Obama/Biden is a choice to even possibly consider. Now maybe, Scott, you are just being a devil's advocate for the sake of debate, but it was/is seeming to me that you have been flirting with the idea of Obama.

My comment was in defense of what the Church is really saying about the topic. And believe me, the Catholic Church here in the US is saying ALOT about the topic. Like is said before, tune into if you care to know what I'm talking about. There is absolutely NO flirting with O, this topic is black and white, no gray area. I feel that your Catholic voice was/has been presenting something gray.

I'm sorry for coming off harsh, I do not want the Church to be misrepresented on this topic.

Dan said...

I have been thinking about this subject often since I posted it, and have been thinking about the comments posted here as well.

It disappoints me that McCain holds the view of exceptions for abortion in the rape and incest cases. There are many who hold such views for political expediency, though I can't understand how they hold them as tenable arguments. If there is a case to be made for life, it's irrelevant under what conditions life began.

I realize I will vote for McCain, because as Paul said, we rarely have a candidate who we can agree with 100%.

My vote for McCain this year will be a vote against Obama, much as my vote in the last two elections were votes in opposition to the pro-choice candidates. When I cast my vote in 2004, I was casting my vote not for Bush, but for Judge Roberts, even though I didn't know it then. The likelihood of McCain nominating a pro-life judge to the Supreme Court, in the event of a retirement from the Bench is the reason I will vote for McCain.

Obama would certainly vote for a pro-choice candidate and as far as I'm concerned, the most important branch of government is the Supreme Court. I feel it would be irresponsible of me to not vote for McCain because of the "dark cloud" on his abortion views, and the fact that I would characterize his view as lacking wisdom. I have to vote against Obama, plain and simple.

Scott Lyons said...

Dan, I would agree with Paul's encouragement, and your last post. We work slowly within and toward a culture of life. That is surely acceptable and praiseworthy.

Unless ideologies change, I too will be voting for McCain this November. Mostly because of Obama's resolve to pass FOCA - he's promised it to be his first act, if I recall. If he were far more "hands-off" on the abortion issue - "let things be as they are" - I would have a far more difficult choice to make.

Anonymous, again, I appreciate your fervor. However, the Catholic Church (not the Catholic media, but the Catholic Church) has remained on the sidelines of this issue. It is not for me or you to tell another Catholic that he is "unfaithful" or sinning or, God forbid, losing his salvation if he votes for Obama.

The bishops have left it gray. Perhaps charcoal gray, but gray.

If voting for Obama is such a situation - a grave evil - then the congregation of bishops need to clearly say so. And they have left it ambiguous. The Catholic Church cannot hide behind "tax exempt status" or some other inanity and then snipe at Catholics who vote for Obama, questioning their faithfulness or their salvation. If it is a grave evil to vote for him (not because of his being pro-choice, but in spite of it), then they are bound by God to tell the faithful so.

And they have not done so.