There has been a good deal of outrage recently about the very liberalized abortion laws which were passed in New York and Virginia, permitting the child to be murdered even as it is in the process of being born. In Virginia the governor said that, even if the child survived the abortion, the parents and the abortionist “would have a discussion,” implying very clearly that if the parents did not want the child, the abortionist would kill it.
I do not understand the outrage, since all of the logic for performing the heinous crime has been with us since Roe vs. Wade in 1973. In fact, it has been with us since the legalization of artificial contraception.
The Catholic doctrine is that sexual intercourse has a single purpose, which is the procreation of a human being. Notice that the word is procreation and not creation, since the prefix pro means that the parents are accomplishing the creation of a child for God. This means that the parents are given a role in the production of a human being, in which they provide the flesh, whereas God provides the immortal soul. The result is a human being, who has, on the one hand, a body, like that of the animals, but on the other hand, an immaterial and immortal soul, like the angels. This soul is what makes human beings different from animals, possessing as it does an intellect and will. These faculties enable the soul to know immaterial things, and to freely choose to do good things. Animals choose their good things by being programmed by God through instinct, and their choices are not free.
Hence the Catholic doctrine sees the child as primarily and essentially the work of God the Creator, and as something which is rightfully God’s. The parents have a merely vicarious role in the order of creation, permitted as they are to provide the material part of the child. Consequently, the entire reproductive process is under God’s direct control, and must be ordered according to God’s law, which is the natural law.
God the Creator has attached pleasure to the reproductive act in order that human beings be motivated to propagate the human race. The pleasure is therefore something entirely subject to the use of sexual activity according to the rules of nature.
Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical Casti Connubii, said that the parents act “as ministers, as it were, of the Divine Omnipotence.”
Listen to the same pope in the same encyclical:
Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.
To sum up: (1) Sexual intercourse is is essentially ordered to reproduction; (2) the pleasure associated with it is essentially ordered to reproduction, and exists only to promote reproduction; (3) the entire reproductive act, from conception to birth, is completely under the control of God, and must be carried out in accordance with the natural law; (4) the child, from conception to birth, is God’s child primarily, and continues to be God’s child forever; (5) The parents have a merely vicarious role in the creation of a child inasmuch as God permits them to partake in His creative process; (6) it is therefore the role of the parents to conceive according to nature, and to protect the unborn child until birth, and thereafter to rear the child both in regard to his or her spiritual needs and temporal needs.
The atheistic/materialistic/secularistic/evolutionistic view is the complete opposite. Human beings are essentially animals, having evolved from gorillas or gorilla-like animals. They have no immaterial or immortal souls. Their intellects and free wills are functions of their material brains. There is no judgment after death, no reward for virtue, and no punishment for moral depravity. Like animals, human beings exist to have pleasure, and the most pleasurable thing is sex. Reproduction is a side effect of the pleasurable sex act. The conception and bearing of children is completely under the control of the woman, who bears a child as a part of her own body. It is entirely her possession and she makes all the decisions concerning its conception, and its survival after conception.
So it is evident that contraception is at bottom the cause of abortion. If reproduction is entirely under the control of the woman, and if we are merely animals, then what is the harm in terminating the life of the child, either through contraception or by abortion? Why should there be any limit on the time of abortion? Indeed, what stops a mother, in this macabre logic, from ordering the death of her child even when it has exited the womb, and has become physically independent from her? How would it differ from putting a litter of unwanted puppies to death?
The only reason why some are horrified by these new abortion laws in New York and Virginia is that a late term abortion seems more grotesque and monstrous. The steely liberal logic, however, puts its blessing upon it.