Respect for Unborn Human Life: The Church’s Constant Teaching
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” (No. 2271).
Given the scientific fact that a human life begins at conception, the only moral norm needed to understand the Church’s opposition to abortion is the principle that each and every human life has inherent dignity, and thus must be treated with the respect due to a human person. This is the foundation for the Church’s social doctrine, including its teachings on war, the use of capital punishment, euthanasia, health care, poverty and immigration. Conversely, to claim that some live human beings do not deserve respect or should not be treated as “persons” (based on changeable factors such as age, condition, location, or lack of mental or physical abilities) is to deny the very idea of inherent human rights. Such a claim undermines respect for the lives of many vulnerable people before and after birth.
Abortion and Personhood
The killing of an innocent human being through abortion, at any developmental stage and for any reason, is a direct violation of their personhood. So what does this mean?
In a Judeo-Christian worldview, humans are afforded a special status and dignity because we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). This means we’re endowed with an immortal spirit, a capacity to know and be known by God, and a measure of free will that’s unique from the animal kingdom. Because we bear the image of God, we are valuable from the moment of fertilization. For this reason, all human life must be respected and protected in law. Because the right to life originates from God and not the State (see the Declaration of Independence), the State is limited in its authority to authorize the taking of life. And, the State exceeds its biblical boundaries when it allows the innocent to be killed.
Personhood Missouri represented our state’s pro-life cause at the annual 2020 Bringing America Back to Life Conference – America’s largest pro-life conference and shared this clip with us. It contains key and high density pro-life content. It is a startling no nonsense look at the national pro-life scene. The conference starts at approx 1:33 with Bishop Roger Gries calling out our federal legislators:
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