Topical Controversy Abortion Issues Part 4

About the major controversy surrounding abortion, a look at the issues of the Catholic Church and alternatives to abortion.




Issue: Should the Catholic Church be allowed to force its moral views on all of society?

Pro Abortion: The Catholic position allows abortion only if the death of the fetus is an "indirect consequence" of surgery, such as the removal of a cancerous uterus. Otherwise, the life of the fetus is considered more important than that of the mother, even if she has 10 other children. And why? Because of the belief, originating with early church fathers, that original sin dooms the unbaptized fetus to eternal punishment. The Catholic Church is trying to put its religious beliefs into law so that they will be imposed on everyone. The Methodists and others tried to do something very similar with Prohibition.

Anti Abortion: Many issues, like civil rights and welfare reform, have moral overtones. A right-to-life amendment would be more like the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, than like the 18th, which outlawed liquor. Catholics are not the only people against abortion. We count in our number Protestants, Jews, and atheists.

Issue: Are there preferable alternatives to abortion?

Anti Abortion: Abortion is a poor solution to a problem that is often rooted in economics. Many women abort because they think they can't afford a child. Society must change so that the single pregnant woman and mother can survive more easily. Day care should be available to the working mother. The woman who does not want to keep her baby can put it up for adoption by a childless couple. Dr. Bernard Nathanson suggests that fetuses may be transplanted to host mothers or artificial wombs in the future. Abortion is just one more factor in the weakening of the family.

Pro Abortion: No woman should be forced to bear a child, especially one that she can't love and care for. Every child has the right to be wanted. Even with an enlightened social policy, a woman with several children, living in dire poverty, has a poor chance of doing a good job of raising yet another child. Studies show that children born to women denied abortions are more likely to have mental problems, get in trouble with police, and fail in school. Giving up a child for adoption is far more traumatic than abortion for the natural mother, and it is a form of slavery to make women act as baby factories for other people. As for the transplanted fetus idea, where will you find 1,500,000 sets of parents to adopt the 1,500,000 fetuses that would be transplanted? A Carter administration study group on alternatives to abortion disbanded with the conclusion that the real alternatives to abortion were "suicide, motherhood, and, some would add, madness."

Consider women who have chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and epilepsy. Pregnancy often exacerbates the illness, and the side effects of the treatment or the disease itself can cause birth defects in the child. Consider the anguish of bearing an anencephalic child (one without a brain and therefore doomed to die) or other defective infant. Medical tests can give conclusive evidence of birth defects that doom a child to permanent disability or early death. Why not abort if necessary and try again for a healthy child? Certainly those who become pregnant as the result of rape or incest, often children themselves, are entitled to an abortion.

Anti Abortion: The right of every child to live supersedes his right to be wanted, happy, or perfect, and supersedes his mother's right to physical and mental health.

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