Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Absurdity of the Pro-Abortion Movement and the Dignity of the Human Person

St. Augustine much in his life spoke out against the vices and evils of his time, whether it be the terrible schism of the Donatists from the holy Church, the errors of the Manicheans, the corruption of the Roman state, or simply those that lie in his and many other peoples live, and if we aim to follow in his footsteps we must do much the same. The Catholic Church speaks out sharply against the sin of abortion, and threatens automatic excommunication for anyone who willingly participates or assists in an abortion. The Church knows deep in her heart by the reflection of what she has received from her Bridegroom, Christ, that abortion necessarily entails the murder of a person with an eternal soul, fastened and created by the Lord at conception. The reasons are simple then why abortion is wrong; the reasons against it are quite convoluted so as to distract us from the real evil of murdering our innocent children. Here I will begin to try and shed some light on some of the reasons why abortion is an unjust deed, the arguments will come from Christianity and right reason.

The Incarnation
For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son: that whosoever believes in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting. (John 3:16) This is one of the most famous texts in all of Scripture, and no wonder for it shows the splendor of God’s mercy, the wonder of He who is Infinite, He who is above all things, He who dwells in mystery above mystery, Whose ways are not our own, He Who Is, Who made us who by comparison are not, chose to dwell in the heart and the womb of our fairest Lady Mary. He made Himself humble under the form of a servant, and became consubstantial with us from His very beginning.

Now what does consubstantial mean? Consubstantial means of the same substance, the same essence, that is of the same kind as another. Christ because He is also a man is consubstantial with us in that He shares in our humanity. His entire life was lived entirely for our redemption and to garner our love, so that those who have the truest faith in Him, who follow His every whim in their hearts, should live eternally in His heart. It bears great reflection to wonder how great Christ’s love was for us to come down from the Infinite and dwell amongst us, all for love did He who is uncircumscribable become circumscribed and yet uncircumscribable.

Hear then the testimony of St. Elizabeth:
Luke 1:41-45
41 And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed are you that have believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to you by the Lord.

You hear then that holy St. Elizabeth recalls the blessedness that is the fruit of our Lady’s womb. Then she replies whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Note here that the holy saint replies that Mary is the mother of her Lord, that is Mary is the mother of God, who is the blessed fruit of her womb. Christ is truly a Person before He is born, not only this but by uniting Himself to humanity even as a small little one in the womb He is a Divine Person with and in fact is Divine Wisdom, He is a Person because He is God, even in the smallness of His body at His conception He Is. Then so too is He the Lord though humbling Himself as a Person. Then too Mary is the mother of our Lord, that is she not only is the mother of a disembodied group of cells, God-forbid-us to talk that way of our Lord, but she is the mother of our Lord, who is a Person. Then so, our Lord is united as a Person in all of the Incarnation from His very conception, for it would not be fitting for the Lord to be united in a manner to that which was not even a person. Could we have called the Lord a Person in His divinity but not a Person in His humanity? What absurdity, for this is not only not comprehensible but is against our holy faith as proclaimed at the Council of Chalcedon that our Lord is One, Christ is one Person with two natures, human and Divine.

Then so too you Christian ought to know that our Lord shared everything with us in His Incarnation except sin and all of the consequences of sin, except death which He took upon Himself. He being Divine though was graced above all Creation, and He bore with us a humanity that even partook in the smallness of conception and embryonic development. But He was not just a man, but God eternal. So too know that those who commit abortions seek to destroy someone that our Lord became Incarnate for, and died for, that is that God chose to become like that small child aborted. Non-sense then that the fetus is not a person, look to our Lord who was a Person even from His smallest moments.

As a side note we may consider the fact that St. John the Baptist physically and spiritually responds to our Lady’s presence and the holiness of the Lord before Him.
And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.

The Church has often stated that St. John the Baptist here was sanctified by the Holy Spirit that overshadowed St. Elizabeth and caused St. John the Baptist to leap.

The testimony of the saints of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant:
I borrowed many of these from Taylor Marshall’s Canterbury Tales, a great blog, written and hosted by a great man.

Lo, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (Ps 126:3-5).

Children are the Lord’s gift to us, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Now the fruit here itself is a reward, it is God’s gift to us because every gift given by God can be likened to a reward, not merited in the sense of a typical reward, but rewarded to us on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice, that is given to us from the splendidness of God’s grace and love. The fruit of the womb then itself is the gift and reward, look then again that Scripture calls them children! They are people, our little one’s in our womb, look carefully and make sure that you understand children in the womb and outside of the womb to be gifts and blessings!

Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery {pharmakeia}, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).

Now pharmakeia here, translated as sorcery regards the use of herbs used to terminate or prohibit children from being born or conceived. It follows closely to fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, then followed by enmity. Take note then that the Holy Spirit has placed these words here for a purpose, no word of God is ever misplaced when rightly understood. It follows fornication, impurity, licentiousness and idolatry because these herbs were often given by pagans for use against conceiving a child and for the sake of terminating a child in the womb. So too then does it start from the desire for fornication, leading one to decide to abide in impurity because of the desires of the flesh, which then breeds licentiousness, that is a desire to be free from all consequences of our poor moral actions, whereby St. Paul saw people seeking the help of idolaters to commit evil sorceries and herbs to abort the child or prevent it from being conceived. So then does God tell us that these are mortal sins by which all charity dies and we cannot inherit the kingdom of God. This too may speak of the sin of contraception (contra-conception).

See Taylor’s blog for more on these connections:

For the tradition of the Church regarding abortions you may also see Taylor’s blog:

Argument from biology
Now then, no one will argue that the little one in the womb is not human. And if human then it is a human entity, a human being. This human is distinct from the mother, it is an individual because its genetics and body are not the same as the mother’s, it is the product of the father and the mother, but not identical to either, nor to be the sum of both of them. The child is an aggregate and complex mixing of both the father and the mother’s genetic code so as to make him a distinct individual with his own set of DNA. If then they are wholly distinct individuals who have the capacity to grow and mature given the right biological conditions, then it ought to follow that they are no different from other persons with the exception of the fact that they are not yet fully developed. But so too are children not fully developed, but we consider them persons, individual human entities, human beings. Aborting a little one in the womb becomes little different than murdering any post-birth child. In fact that was a few philosophers’ statements in an article in which they considered “post-birth abortion” to be permissible. When will it end, when will people consider the dignity of the human person at every stage of life?

Some argue that a woman can do what she wants with her body, but this is not at all the case, do we consider a woman’s failure to breast-feed her children or to feed her children once out of the womb to be a sinless act? No, we prosecute her for neglect and for abuse. An infant is entirely dependent on his mother’s body for food during the first few weeks of life. Let us assume that baby-formula has not yet been invented, so then we must understand that the infant’s only source of feeding is from his mother’s body, much the same way he was when he was in the womb, though the latter way is more direct, and the former way requires more on the mother’s part. If the mother has the right to her own body she can simply neglect the child, she can do what she wants with her body and nobody can compel her to feed her child because it is her body. This is uncivilized and irresponsible.

As the son of Hispanic immigrants I learned early in my life that we must bear responsibilities in life, duties in life, that were not our own making, and we have no right to call these unfair. I have a duty and responsibility to my family no matter what stage in my life I am, it does not matter if my father or mother was abusive, if they hated my guts, if I thought them lunatics, familia, family matters. We all have a duty to the people who cared for us when no one else could, they had a duty too to us, but on a lesser scale, it was their love that cared for us and made us who we are, even if it was so small as to only ensure for our bare survival. We are still here, and for even giving us that bare survival we must be grateful; I could not, nor could any of us have made ourselves of our own will to survive in our smallest form as an infant, but they could, and they did. In like manner, we must be grateful and subservient to our parents for the entirety of our lives. This is not only a law learned of experience, but God’s fourth commandment. We have no choice in this responsibility, it is part of the wisdom that we must learn of our humanity. It is a pained thing to learn many times, but even in the worst of parents some honor is due to them for bringing you forth.

So too is it the same with any child found inside of us, even if it was from rape or any other unplanned instance, God gives us responsibilities that bind us even if we think they are unfair and unjust. Because the little one is a human being, and thus a person, it is no question that we bear to that little one a responsibility to love him no matter what, to spare no expense at adoring the little marvel, to strive in everything of our will and hope in God that our child will live on and thrive no matter how much the pain. Life is to precious, life is to sacred, to waste, to toss aside. Atheists often want to speak up about how precious and rare life is, it is, it truly is, and that is why we must act humanely and think. Simply because this little one in the womb has come to me as a responsibility I did not want to take on does not mean that I am free from all responsibility. Perish the thought! Sometimes we are given responsibilities that are not our choosing to learn to suffer, and then to learn how to persevere. This is God’s gift when He draws us closer to Him who underwent all suffering in His body for our sake. He draws us near to His Passion in the hope of showing us what true faithfulness is, and that all suffering that takes place in Him, ends with the glory and merit of Resurrection.

Argument from horror of sex-selection or eugenics based abortions
Let us reflect again that if abortion is not a crime, why do so many decry the act of sex-selected abortions or about aborting little ones according to their race. We are not harming any person we might say if we agreed with them, therefore there is no penalty. But this is not the case at all, people are horrified that people should choose to abort their children if they do not want a boy or a girl, it is barbaric they cry. However if that little one were not a person we could not begin to speak of penalties and crimes, what ignorance of wisdom might befall us if we believe that a human little one could have a gender without being a person. Do you know of any human being that is male or female without being a person? Our gender, male in female, describes our personhood and identity, that is why so many who claim to be the opposite gender when they are not in fact such become so offended. Gender is necessarily part of personhood and necessarily part of our identity; which person could be adequately described to a stranger without mentioning their gender?

Furthermore, if the little one in the womb is not a person then eugenics does not harm anyone. If I wanted less say Hispanic Americans in the United States we might say, OK, let us have, God-forbid, all Hispanics who are pregnant receive an abortion. Let us say it was consensual. Is there an evil done? Let us say this went on for 100 years. There would be no more Hispanics in the United States and we would have wiped the country clean of us. Is this OK if we had done it say at day one of conception? It was consensual. Then understand what should be commonly perceived that the murdering of human individuals in the womb is much the same as depriving the world of those same human individuals. They maintain the same identity, the cells that were there in the beginning are genetically identical to these persons. There is no change in biological identity, thus they are persons. In effect what would be the difference if every Hispanic-American had suddenly become mute, deaf, blind, senseless, and indefensible aside from the constant help of others. If we chose to murder them all at once because we did not consider them human would we not be effecting the same end as we did in our eugenics experiment?

The answer is yes, in both ways we deprive humanity of each other. We have a responsibility to uphold human dignity for the beauty of what it is. I suspect that few will be moved by this, but this is because many hate Christ, and I do not mean this by an active role of the heart, but the heart that is engulfed in sin has an aversion to Christ, an aversion to God. If you have ever felt deep within the depths of your heart an aversion to hearing a moralizing person preach, or someone prick our consciences about the right and wrong things to do, fully knowing the evils we have committed then you have shown your hatred for Christ and for God’s law. This is part of original sin, to be confused and unable to do what is good, because we are stuck in the dark. For those who do not have sanctifying grace it is part of the fomes of sin, that is the inability to not sin, not because we do not possess freedom, but because our freedom is mislead, and we do not see the evil in sin until we have been fooled. Sin has beguiled us because we were born susceptible to it, without the guidance of God’s grace and presence. Happy are those who are baptized as infants and raised in the Church, for though they are washed in God’s blood and given a purity in grace, they must still rule over the flesh and seek God’s sanctification to learn to reign over our bad concupiscence (temptations to sin that are part of our fallen-ness).

In all things may God bless you wholly and keep you entirely. Let Him robe you in His holy garments and keep you strong in the faith, being your armor against the evil that lurks in this world.

I leave you then to consider the dignity of a human person, which transcends all that we can understand about ourselves because first and foremost, the entire dignity and purpose of man is wrapped up in Christ’s Incarnation and Person. Only those who have Him can fully understand their purpose and dignity and worth, and only then until they rise with Him and see God as He is in the beatific vision.

Reflect on the nature with which God has made you a person and how He too is a Person. He has uplifted us that high, consider this, Dominican Fr. Emery Gille OP’s wise words:

“The Dignity of Being a Substance” from The Lumen Christi Institute on Vimeo.

As Fr. Emery Gilles OP put it so well, our humanity is not in our capacity or our abilities, unless we err in thinking the more intelligent, the more wealthy, the stronger are more human the the blessed meek and weak, but rather our person-hood stands with being an individual substance of a rational nature, something that the unborn, the weak, the infant, the beggar, the drug addict, the criminal, the stranger, the illegal immigrant, the old, the sick, the poor, the strong, the rich, and the wise all share in common. Our common humanity and human dignity is our shared good and person-hood is the highest expression of that dignity, especially when we finally see the goodness the infinite dignity of God Who Is a Person.

It is not until we see these things that we can live the Gospel of loving our neighbors as we truly are. May God grant you grace in your journey and understand that your dignity as a man or a woman, as a person is intimately related with how God granted you that dignity to share in a way, His own mode of existing, especially when He became Incarnate. He gave everything for you, can you do the same?


  1. Let not the person watching this video think that subsisting in another is not to be taken as being within the womb or being dependent on another for one's survival or existence. A little one in the womb is intrinsically distinct as a different individual from the mother and father and so it subsists as an individual with a rational potential and a rational nature (i.e. human nature). In likewise way the Son is dependent on the Father for all that He is, but the Son is a Person nonetheless and is distinct from the Father though depending on Him for everything (John 5:19 "...Amen, amen, I say unto you, the Son cannot do anything of himself, but what he sees the Father doing: for what things soever he does, these the Son also does in like manner.").

    Understand then that personhood does not inhere in our actions or our feelings our thinking, but rather that it is our individuality and capacity that lies within our nature which helps define the mode of our individuality for rationality and free will that makes us persons. This extends to infants, the unborn, the downtrodden, the mentally handicapped, and all other people we see about.

    "The human person is not a rational individual but a subsistent being of a rational nature." This definition will solve our problems on abortion, infanticide, sex-selected abortions, eugenics, and euthanasia.

  2. I hope to add later essays that are more cohesive and better written regarding the dignity of the human person and how it can only be explained and understood in the love and life of God.