Of course abortion trumps everything else–why is that so surprising? No other issue deals so completely with matters of life and death for the most innocent of victims (even issues affecting the life or death of children who have already been born are not as paramount because there are very few–only the Peter Singers of the world–who deny the very humanity of born-children, but the humanity of the unborn is very much discounted by far too many in our society. And it should not be a surprise that the profoundly liberal Amnesty International would come into conflict with the profoundly conservative Catholic Church hierarchy (though in this case I agree with the church)–inevitable is a better term.
Inevitable is a better term indeed. Perhaps, considering the Catholic history of the organization, some consciences will be moved.
This is not a conflict with the Church’s “hierarchy” (as if that is some separate component from the Church herself) but with the Church and, therefore, with the mind of Christ.
This distinction some try to make between the Church and the bishops (hierarchy) seems unworkable to me.
Maid: Though I risk (yet again) being scolded for going off-topic, I do wonder how anyone can avoid distinguishing between the church leadership and the mind of Christ … unless you are prepared to say that every action of the leadership is indeed what Christ intended (which then raises those sticky hiytorical issues such as crusades, inquisitions, the burning alive of supposed heretics, etc.). I do not attribute every action of the church hierarchy to Christ’s own desires and thus I can easily reconcile the two conflicting cocnepts.
Using the phrase, “apparently abortion trumps everything”, Paul Lauritzen trivializes the intentional killing of an unborn child. Perhaps he believes that protecting an unborn child is a trivial matter, but when I, my wife, and my daughter and her husband viewed 3-dimensional sonograms of our granddaughter Sasha , we all knew instinctively that to kill her would have been an unspeakable atrocity. Watching her floating serenely in that tiny amniotic sea, sucking her thumb (and toes), smiling faintly – words cannot even begin to convey her beauty and humanity.
Though I guess I can’t spell “historical” or “concepts” correctly when my e-mail is distinct from auto spell-checker!
Mr. Reid writes: I do wonder how anyone can avoid distinguishing between the church leadership and the mind of Christ.
Jean says: I guess that depends on what you call “leadership.” If you mean that, collectively, all the bishops around the world, are the best substitute we have for the mind of Christ on earth, I’d agree.
No such wholesale call for the excommunication of Catholics who belong to AI has been forthcoming from this leadership.
Jean: And if this leadership did call for excommunicating Catholics who belong to AI … ? (As one bishop has suggested for members of “Call to Action”, if I remember correctly?) Would your view change?
I wholeheartedly disagree with and disapprove of AI’s decision on abortion. But I do not think that anyone should be tossed out of the church just for disagreeing with my position (or the leadership’s position) on this issue. I simply thought that it was no suprise for the conservative church leadership to oppose AI’s decision and no surprise for more liberal Catholics to oppose the leadership’s opposition …
If Martino’s statement included any message at all about the plight of women who are increasingly being targeted for rape as political, religious or tribal payback, I missed it. Their lives are destroyed. Not only are a non-trivial number of them infected with HIV, most become unmarriageable or are repudiated by their spouses and families, especially if they give birth. Their recourse is to begging or the subsistence sex trade. But then, this is the same man, I believe, who counseled that the true prevention would come through holiness not condoms. Tell that to the chaste woman who was infected as a result of a politically motivated rape. And please don’t pretend that none of these rapes is ever perpetrated by a Catholic. See: Rwanda, where the practice was virtually perfected.
But hey, what’s all that compared to the picture of a peacefully unaware fetus on a first world high definition sono machine? It trumps anything happening to a woman who has already been born in another part of the world.
Barbara: Is your comment, then, about how Martino delivered his message or about the message itself? In other words, if Martino had prefaced all his message with compassionate words about the tragedy these women face and the terrible depravations they must endure and how we as Catholics must help them … and yet he still condemned AI for supporting abortion, would you still oppose what he said (as you seem to oppose it?)
Or do you somehow feel that under the conditions these women experience, the church is wrong to oppose abortion even in their cases?
As a long-time supporter of the “profoundly liberal” AI (I don’t necessarily agree with that characterization of the organization), I am saddened by the new policy. It’s important to look at the exact wording of the policy: AI will work to “[e]nsure access to abortion services to any woman who becomes pregnant as the result of rape, sexual assault, or incest, or where a pregnancy poses a risk to a woman’s life or a grave risk to her health.”
Even some pro-life advocates would support rape/sexual assault/incest and risk to the mother’s life exceptions to an anti-abortion policy, but IMO the primary problem is with the “grave risk to the [mother's] health” language. There is no distinction made between physical and mental health, and though the adjective “grave” seems to set a high standard in theory, it is too imprecise to be much help in practical terms and could easily swallow AI’s claim to support abortion “under certain circumstances” only. In addition, AI plans to work to “ensure” access to abortion services, a level of commitment much stronger than merely supporting such access.
I remember a few years back reading (but I can’t put my fingers on this) of a situation/situations in which nuns somewhere (in Africa?) who were in imminent danger of rape. As such they were given permission to take “the pill” to prevent conception.
It seems to me that the church is perfectly capable of making exception to otherwise hard and fast rules when the circumstances call for good sense.
OK, all of your folks who disagree with AI: start lining up to adopt as many of these babies born of rape as you can. Otherwise, keep your mouths shut!
Jimmy Mac: What a morally bankrupt argument (if you oppose abortion, you must be ready to adopt the babies) … so if someone wants to euthanize their grandmother in the nursing home, I should just shut up about it unless I want to pay her medical bills? If some kids are beating up an old homeless man in the street, I should shut up about it unless I want to bring the man into my own house and feed and shelter him? If someone is going to drown a litter of kittens, i should shut up unless I plan to raise them to cathood? I doubt you feel that way–but with unborn humans, I should be quiet unless I’ll adopt them? What a truly horrid standard you would set.
You don’t find it ironic that AI, one of the premier global human rights organizations, has adopted a policy that will have the effect of ignoring perhaps the most defenseless humans among us?
Shouldn’t the efforts of all of us be on eliminating violence against women so that sexual assault is recognized the world over for the heinous crime it is and is punished severely? AI says that access to abortion services is a means of combatting such violence. I don’t deny that there is some truth to that, but an innocent life is subsequently destroyed in a violent act, too. One violent act begets another. A major part of the problem is that a woman often finds herself alone, scared, and desperate. A whole panoply of safety nets–including adoption–should be in place for all women who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy.
I’m against any criminalizing of abortion, so I agree with the part of the AI policy that addresses that issue, but to my mind, abortion is the greatest and most difficult hearts-and-minds issue of our time, an issue that requires concerted and sustained and imaginative attention by society as a whole if it is ever to be resolved.
Mr. Reid writes: And if this leadership did call for excommunicating Catholics who belong to AI … ? (As one bishop has suggested for members of “Call to Action”, if I remember correctly?) Would your view change?
Jean asks: If the church leaderSHIP (as opposed to a few conservative leaders) tell me I must give up AI, I would do so, yes.
Mr. Reid also says: I simply thought that it was no suprise for the conservative church leadership to oppose AI’s decision and no surprise for more liberal Catholics to oppose the leadership’s opposition …
Jean replies: No, it’s no surprise that some conservative church LEADERS oppose AI. Nor is it a surprise that “more liberal Catholics” disagree with those leaders.
To suggest that “more liberal Catholics” “oppose the leaderSHIP’s opposition,” however, makes it sound as if we disagree with Church teaching.
Laudable as your efforts to hold people’s feet to the fire on abortion may be, I’ve seen no evidence in recent issues of AI bulletins that the organization is doing much in the way of advocating for liberalized abortion laws.
So, while I’ve made my disagreement with AI’s position known, I don’t see any reason to leave at this time.
The answer is to stop funding Catholic bishops. Or something to send the message.
And a word of caution to all. The science is not there yet for abortion. So no matter how you slice one cannot say a full human is there yet.
And as I say repeatedly, abortion is easy since it gives one a sense of righteousness without work.
As fare as the argument goes, about adopting babies of rape. No matter what the example Robert, we must show visible signs of correcting the situation even if adopting a baby may not be possible.
The aggressiveness, even hysteria, of prelates is in practice making the case for liberal attitudes to abortion.
“Jean says: I guess that depends on what you call “leadership.” If you mean that, collectively, all the bishops around the world, are the best substitute we have for the mind of Christ on earth, I’d agree. ”
Whatever happened to “the people of God” — about which “Lumen Gentium” states:
“The holy people of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name.(110) The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(111) cannot err in matters of belief. ”
“What a morally bankrupt argument (if you oppose abortion, you must be ready to adopt the babies)”
What’s morally bankrupt is opposing abortion and doing nothing to mitigate the consequences of your moral posturing.
Your comment: “And a word of caution to all. The science is not there yet for abortion. So no matter how you slice one cannot say a full human is there yet.”
It’s equally true to say: “And a word of caution to all. The science is not there yet for abortion. So no matter how you slice one cannot say a full human is NOT there yet.”
What’s a “full human”? A human ovum fertilized moments ago has the full complement of human genetic material, and if left to develop in a physically nourishing environment will develop, according to its own internal genetic blueprint and without the intervention of anything else to aid in its construction, into a human being capable of living outside the environment it developed in. The development process sounds like science fiction, but it isn’t.
I think full humanity attaches at conception, you think it’s at some later period. The truth is you don’t know for sure, and neither do I. Yet you would err on the side of allowing abortion because there is such uncertainty. I could perhaps understand that mindset if we were talking about a lower life form, bu when we’re talking about a life form with, at a minimum, the genetic potential to be exactly like you and me in all of its essentials, then shouldn’t we do everything we can to help preserve the development of that potentiality? For me, I can’t play God in deciding what is and isn’t fully human.
What scientific evidence could ever prove it? What scientific evidence proves you or I are persons?
Is a microencephalytic infant a person?
A man in a persistent vegitative state?
A deaf, dumb, and blind woman?
Someone with sever Alzhiemer’s or ALS?
A Yankee’s fan?
Unless you can tell me what it is, scientifically, that makes a person a person your caution is senseless.
In case anyone wants to support AI’s efforts in Darfur, AI has just released a CD, “Instant Karma” with various artists covering John Lennon songs. Proceeds go to AI’s work in Darfur. The CD is available at the iTunes store.
It is so very easy as (mostly) middle class males for us to sit here in the safety of our warrens (academic, clerical and otherwise) and theorize, theologize and pontificate about those bad old AI folks and their stance on abortion in the case of rape, etc. … sort of the dotCommonweal version of swimming pool liberals. I live in Northern California and I know way too many of those “talk the talk, don’t walk the walk” folks.
Until those who oppose abortion in these cases are willing to take the huge steps necessary to deal with the consequences of births that result from the cases in point, their hand-wringing and moralizing is, at best, disingenuous.
Is it better for a baby to be born into what most likely will be a life of despair, disease and desperation, just so that we feel good at the fact that they weren’t aborted? Which evil will be worse … and why?
Have we met, Jimmy Mac? I don’t recall that we ever have, though you seem to have nevertheless concluded that those on this board opposed to the AI policy (which goes beyond cases of sexual assault) are mere “theorize[rs], theologize[rs], and pontificate[rs]” who are “[un]willing to take the huge steps necessary to deal with the consequences of births that result from the cases in point.”
I agree with you that huge steps are necessary, but from the “those who oppose abortion in these cases” in your comment, you appear to be abstaining from participation in the huge effort that is needed. I hope I’m wrong about that because you seem to me like a person who is not afraid to speak his mind and to be a squeaky wheel.
I do not oppose abortion in such cases. I recognize it to be a neccessary lesser of 2 evils.
I repeat my question: Is it better for a baby to be born into what most likely will be a life of despair, disease and desperation, just so that we feel good at the fact that they weren’t aborted? Which evil will be worse … and why?
First, let me apologize for any ad hominem aspect of my last post. I violated my self-imposed policy of playing the ball instead of the person. Not very Christian of me.
I can’t buy into the lesser of two evils scenario, I’m afraid. And of course it’s not enough to feel good that a baby wasn’t aborted. I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but what is needed is a massive program that provides a multitude of safety nets to woman with unwanted pregnancies. I have no pipe dreams about how difficult and expensive that will be to implement, but as Christians we have a duty to protect all human life because each person is made in the image of God. That’s Duty # 1. Equally important is our duty to work to eliminate violence, poverty, and any other problem that interferes with Duty # 1. I see all of these life issues as inextricably bound with one another, and it’s not enough to say one is against abortion without also being committed to anti-poverty and anti-violence programs, and being for safety nets for women with unwanted pregnancies.
See you at one of those No. California pool parties.
(Sorry, couldn’t resist. :) )
I didn’t take any notice of what you thought was an ad hominem comment.
I totally agree with you about the need for “a massive program that provides a multitude of safety nets to woman with unwanted pregnancies”
Until that happens in those places where the possibility of it happening is even a remote chance, however, how do you propose looking those women in the eye and making them believe that denying them access to an abortion is a good thing for them? How will you convince them that a most likely deplorable future for their baby is a good thing? I wouldn’t even want to try. Once some or all of those programs that you are arguing for are reasonable expectations, then I would agree with you that abortions should be discouraged. Until then, however, I wouldn’t want it on my conscience that I acquiesced to the most likely fate of yet another child.
I don’t swim.
I didn’t want to join this thread because” 1) much of what is argued here has been said numerous times at this site before; and,
2)William Colloier’s comments ,as in many many cases, are full of good sense and summarize the problem nicely.
Yet, I think there is something to be said for the notion that the strong pro- life voices here are , if I may borrow on the term conied l.ong ago by the Anglican Bishop of Woolich, John A. T. Robinson (yes, Maid, another of those horrible anglican bishops -ooh, ooh!) “comfortable Christianity.”
I find Robert Reid’s comments about iunborns being more important tha those born to be idiotic.
I thought more of adults, past and present, ripped apart by the carnage of war.
‘I think of the Pax Christi protestors who go to jail or the nuns. olften elderly, and priests and laity protesting the old SOA. They put themselves on the line for life, it strikes me, but we diminish their efforts or scoff at them from places that we;ve never been
From my old civil rights protest days, I know the idea of putting yourself on the line for faith means and if the wholeGospel of life is to be proclaimed and beleived, it will take more than withholding your contribution from AI, as wrongheaded as it is.
William Collier and Jimmy Mac, quoting him, refer to “unwanted pregnancies.” This term is too gentle, to my ears, to describe the result of rape — especially the massive wartime ethnic/religious-based rape in which the intention of the soldier-rapists is to “pollute” the society of their enemy, as we saw in the Balkans (most recently) in the 1990s. Obviously, there is a vast difference between this situation and the “oops” unwanted/unintended type of pregnancy.
As a male who obviously would never find himself in either situation, it still seems to me that the horror of the war crime of mass rape of women raises a whole raft of moral questions that cannot be answered by simply stating that “we have a duty to protect all human life because each person is created in the image and likeness of God” (which I of course believe), end of story. It seems awfully callous to tell a woman who has been so horribly used as an instrument of war: “Sorry about that, but that baby is yours, honey…thanks for the use of your uterus to help us (rapists) make our point…and, oh, by the way, remember that that “thing” now growing in your womb is created in the image and likeness of God, so don’t touch it!”
Thanks to Bob Nunz for some long view perspective on this topic.
I agree with Michael Hovey that wartime rape is particularly hideous. Testimony from women from former Yugoslavia reveals that “rape” doesn’t begin to cover the hideously inventive methods of sexual terrorism devised by ethnic “polluters.” Nor is sexual terrorism confined to females.
I agree that the arguments of prolifers in the face of this devastation sometimes seems pretty smug.
However, could we not agree that there is something essentially wrong with a cultural attitude that holds people to a standard of sexual purity such that they and their children become “polluted” if a crime has been committed against them?
Such attitudes make sexual terrorism in wartime seem all the more attractive.
I regret that Amnesty International believed it necessary to inject itself into the abortion debate. I allowed my membership in a veterans’ organization to lapse because it began advocating for/against issues that really had nothing to do with its core mission.
You ask – Is it better for a baby to be born into what most likely will be a life of despair, disease and desperation, just so that we feel good at the fact that they weren’t aborted? Which evil will be worse … and why?
I will answer that if you will answer me at what specific level of despair, or disease, or other pain or unhappiness an innocent life is not worth living.
Bob Nunz: I NEVER said that the life of the unborn was more important than the life of the born … I consider all lives equal in that sense. What I said was that the born at least are almost universally recognized as enjoying the right to life that the unborn are not granted (only people like Peter Singer, who think parents should be able to kill certain children for a certain period after birth actually question the right of the born to life). Throughout history, the problem has always been that certain people have not been considered fully human and thus deserving of life … whether it was slaves in the ancient world or Jews in Nazi Germany or the unborn today, whenever a group of people is not recognized as fully human, the result is always an atrocity. Since this is a Catholic website, stop and think–exactly how many therapeutic abortions or abortions for rape or abortions for any of the reasons usually listed for defending so-called choice do you honestly think that Jesus would condone? Yes, Jesus would demand better social and finanancial and spiritual support for the affected women–and might call on people to adopt the children, take in the mother, etc. … and he would also forgive the woman who had an abortion … but can you honestly say that in any of those situations he would agree that the abortion was necessary?