A Church at war against rape and abortion
Letter to the Editor | Thursday, March 19, 2009
This is a response to James Spitalere’s March 18 letter entitled “Rape vs. abortion: Culture war.” While concern for adolescent maternal mortality does indeed draw attention to an important issue in the case of the Brazilian girl who underwent an abortion, I cannot accept the argument that the excommunication of the doctors and mother behind the abortion is proof that the Catholic Church seeks to uphold a “moral grandstanding” (read: faÃ§ade) over the health and well-being of young girls. Rather, it is precisely the genuine concern for the dignity and worth of all human beings that has moved the Church to act as it has.
Rape is undeniably an affront to human dignity, and it is never acceptable in any case. But, an evil deed is not a justifiable response to another evil deed. Forcing a young girl to receive an operation that halts the body’s natural functioning before she has even had time to heal from the incident of rape does not seem more loving to me than lavishing medical care, support groups and therapy would be.
The assumption that the girl’s age makes her automatically unable to carry a child safely is, aside from being altogether false, no call to terminate the pregnancy before malignant symptoms are even present.
With modern medicine, it is entirely possible in cases of hazardous pregnancies to monitor the mother’s health closely, allow the baby to develop as much as possible and remove it via a Cesarean section should it become necessary to save the lives of the mother and baby. Why is abortion the obvious choice when there are viable pro-life options that have worked in numerous instances?
Arguably, the persistent presence of abortion (and contraceptives) heightens the threat to young women in vulnerable positions. If a man can rape a woman with the knowledge that his deed can be hidden, he has an added incentive to commit the act. In fact, in the case of the Brazilian girl, the stepfather’s actions were only uncovered when the pregnancy was discovered because the girl had gone to the doctor for stomach pains.
Morality and ethics require that you unequivocally hold up unchanging truths as good and just. In order for the Church’s teachings on morality and ethics to hold any validity, they must be applied consistently in every case because they are based on universal truths.
Abortion is never an acceptable response to rape, whether the victim is a 40-year-old woman or a 9-year-old girl. The Church’s stance against abortion is only strengthened by the fact that it is never reinterpreted to suit current societal or cultural trends. I support Pope Benedict’s decision to uphold the excommunications.