Evangelium Vitae #11
Here though we shall concentrate particular attention on another category of attacks, affecting life in its earliest and in its final stages, attacks which present new characteristics with respect to the past and which raise questions of extraordinary seriousness. It is not only that in generalised opinion these attacks tend no longer to be considered as ‘crimes’, paradoxically they assume the nature of ‘rights’, to the point that the State is called upon to give them legal recognition and to make them available through the free services of health-care personnel. Such attacks strike human life at the time of its greatest frailty, when it lacks any means of self-defence. Even more serious is the fact that, most often, these attacks are carried out in the very heart of and with the complicity of the family – the family which by its nature is called to be the ‘sanctuary of life.’
How did such a situation come about? Many different factors have to be taken into account. In the background there is the profound crisis of culture, which generates skepticism in relation to the very foundations of knowledge and ethics, and which makes it increasingly difficult to grasp clearly the meaning of what man is, the meaning of his rights and duties. Then there are all kinds of existential and interpersonal difficulties, made worse by the complexity of a society in which individuals, couples and families are often left alone with their problems. There are situations of acute poverty, anxiety or frustration in which the struggle to make ends met, the presence of unbearable pain, or instances of violence, especially against women, make the choices to defend and promote life so demanding as sometimes to reach the point of heroism.
All this explains, at least in part, how the value of life today can undergo a kind of ‘eclipse’, even though conscience does not cease to point to it as a sacred and inviolable value, as is evident in the tendency to disguise certain crimes against life in its early stages by using innocuous medical terms which distract attention from the fact that what is involved is the right to life of an actual human person.