Thursday, February 27, 2020 - Updated: 11:15 am
QUESTION: What do I say to co-workers and friends who ask, “Why is the Catholic Church trying to force its moral views about abortion on everyone else?”
ANSWER: The above question is not isolated, and many ask it. What underlies the question and how do we answer?
The question arises from the experience of many who believe the entire abortion question is really a uniquely “Catholic” issue. But we know that isn’t true, and that many people of other faith traditions concur with us in our views on abortion.
But how do others see it? Frankly, what many see are people saying the rosary or in a procession from a church to an abortion facility. While we have deep feelings about such devotions, how do others view them? It seems that many understand these uniquely Catholic symbols are just more evidence that opposing abortion is a Catholic issue.
I feel that the more we allow our Respect Life efforts to be read as a Catholic issue, the more our best efforts will be frustrated. In our culture, more and more people do not consider themselves Christians or even believers in God. We have to help them understand that respect for human life is not an exclusively Catholic issue, and that we need the help of all those who believe in the dignity of each human life.
In addition, we cannot expect state or federal governments to uphold the dignity of human life because Catholics do. But we do expect them to acknowledge and uphold the historic values upon which this nation was founded. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” must still mean something to us and to the unborn. We also expect that our elected representatives acknowledge our right to support the unborn and to share our beliefs with the respect that they deserve.
The fundamental principle underlying the church’s position on abortion is respect for human life. That cannot be seen as applying to Catholics alone. It is a matter of human concern and the ethical principles upon which our democracy is built.
Admittedly, there is disagreement on exactly when life begins. However, advances in scientific research have moved that understanding earlier and earlier in gestation. Common sense would also tell us that what is in the womb must be human since it is neither plant nor animal nor mineral. It should be a clear decision of thinking people of whatever religious practice or none at all that what is in the womb is human. If human then, by what right do we destroy it? That is what we want our government to defend.
Yes, women have rights, but so does the father of the child in the womb and especially the human child itself. In the conflict of rights, our nation has a history of law that respects all parties. It also has a tradition that civil law can sort our conflicting rights and provide a just solution that safeguards the legitimate rights of all.
Our nation is established upon a belief in the principle of protection under the law, and we must continue to defend that principle as it applies to all people — even the pre-born child.
Father Bober is administrator of the grouping that includes St. Kilian in Adams/Cranberry townships and Holy Sepulcher in Glade Mills.