I just wanted to thank you for putting up such an wonderful web site. Your arguments against abortion are by far the most rational and compassionate I have ever read (as many other have said before me). Contrary to what some have stated, I think that you have captured the emotions that a woman would be feeling in such a situation exceptionally well and are very perceptive at looking at the issue from a woman's point of view.
I have had, shall we say, a difficult relationship with the catholic church for a long time (I am 25). To reads words such as yours that are spoken reasonably gives me a great deal of comfort and helps me in my quest to reconcile my beliefs with those of the church. I do have a question for you, as I read something earlier this morning that upset me greatly.
I have been doing research on Natural Family Planning (my boyfriend and I are about to become engaged), and part of that research this morning was to read the Humane Vitae. The statement in the document about abortion being an absolute no, even the case of medical necessity has left me betrayed and confused. Betrayed because I feel as if my role as a woman and a catholic has been reduced to that of a vessel- that my life has no value when I become pregnant except to deliver another catholic into the flock. And betrayed because I was taught in school, by priests (catholic high school), that abortion was acceptable as an alternative in cases where the life of the mother would be lost if it was not done. Now I realize this document was published in 1966, but I have not been able to locate any other documentation that coincides with what I was taught in school.
I would hate to think that with my all ready troubled relationship with the church that men that I have a great deal of respect and admiration for have given me information that is incorrect. In spite of all my frustrations and questions I still want to be catholic, but I am unsure if I can do so under a tenant such as the one stated in the Humane Vitae, if it is indeed true. Is it true? How do I reconcile?
Thank you for any guidance you can provide.
Thank you for the letter with the kind words. I apologize for my slowness in responding. Part of the reason is my recent visit to Peru and the other part is I am not quite sure of the answer. I looked thru Humanae Vitae for the part you referred to and could not find it.
Anyway, my own understanding is this: Abortion, as the priests at your high school said, would be morally permissable to save the life of the mother (when otherwise the fetus would die as in an ectopic pregnancy). I understand that situations where a doctor would have to chose between the life of the child and the mother are extremely rare, if not non-existent. There was a dramatic scene in the movie The Cardinal where that kind of decision had to be made and the choice was for the child. But that was just a movie--and now a quite old one (made before you were born).
When I was down in Peru, I was with a woman who had a one year old daughter. She said that when she travelled in a public van (which are notoriously dangerous) she always thought of what she would do in case of an accident. She had a strategy how if it crashed she could save her daughter even if it meant losing her own life. A difficult thought, but what mother would not feel the same?
I want to encourage you to continue studying Natural Family Planning. Are you doing your own charting? Be sure to share the material you are studying with your boyfriend. It will strengthen your marriage so much. (Divorce among couples who practice NFP is very low, as I am sure you have already read.)
Please feel free to write again. My prayers for you & your boyfriend. God bless.
Fr. Phil Bloom
Abortion and Early Church Teaching
The overpopulation question.
From Abortionist to Catholic: Bernard Nathanson, M.D..
Abortion and Forgiveness.
Did Aquinas say a baby has no soul until forty days (for a boy) or eighty days (for a girl) after conception, so abortion is okay before those times?
From Sarah: "Do you honestly believe that making abortion illegal will solve the problem?"
Lifeissues.net (Clear Thinking about Crucial Issues)