Abortion: The Bishops Speak

WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Direct abortion is never morally permissible, but there are some medical procedures that are legitimate to protect the life of a pregnant mother, even if they might result in the death of her child.

This clarification was made in a statement Wednesday by the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine.

The committee statement comes in response to a Nov. 5, 2009, abortion at a Catholic hospital in Arizona, which was later publicly judged as morally wrong by the city’s bishop, Thomas Olmstead.

The case brought national media attention, particularly because a nun working at the hospital supported the decision to perform the abortion. According to reports, the mother of the child was suffering from pulmonary hypertension, and the pregnancy was thus judged dangerous for her life.

Setting it straight

The bishops’ committee noted “confusion among the faithful” regarding the principles to be used to evaluate the case, and thus offered observations on the “distinction between medical procedures that cause direct abortions and those that may indirectly result in the death of an unborn child.”

The statement quoted the “Ethical and Religious Directive for Catholic Health Care Services” in No. 45, which condemns abortion, including abortions carried out in the first stage after the child is conceived.

The directive states: “Abortion — that is, the directly intended termination of pregnancy before viability or the directly intended destruction of a viable fetus — is never permitted. Every procedure whose sole immediate effect is the termination of pregnancy before viability is an abortion, which, in its moral context, includes the interval between conception and implantation of the embryo.”

Thus, the committee statement affirms, “Direct abortion is never morally permissible. One may never directly kill an innocent human being, no matter what the reason.”

The full statement is here.

About Susan Kehoe

I am the wife of a Catholic deacon living in Des Moines Iowa. My husband Larry was ordained in 2006. We have two children and five grandchildren.. Our daughter and her family live in Ireland, and our son and his family live in Franklin Massachusetts.
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