Covenant of Love: Abortion
The familial communion of persons is founded on the self-donation of each spouse and in this way is an imitation of the Holy Trinity. When God loves, it is life-giving. He loved us in creation and gave us life. In the redemption, he surrendered himself totally for us and this love brought forth life, divine life, in us. Since we are made in his image, our love, the love of persons, is also life-giving.
In the familial communion of persons, the gift of a man and a woman to each other in their bodies does serve life, new life. This is plainly stated by John Paul when he writes, “Thus, the couple, while giving themselves to one another, give not just themselves but also the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love, a permanent sign of conjugal unity.” *
“A relationship between spirits which begets a new embodied spirit is something unknown in the natural order.” ** Procreation is the most profound blessing which can be bestowed on the love of the couple. They have cooperated with God in giving life to a person, a spiritual being. With this gift, there are responsibilities. Married love, the willingness to bear burdens for the sake of the spouse and children, makes these responsibilities a joy.
Abortion, the killing of a yet unborn child, is evidence of a deep-rooted selfishness. If, in the physical union of a man and a woman, one or both are seeking their own desires, one or both will not hesitate to use the other’s body as a thing to achieve some other end. If the other’s body is treated and used as a thing, it is a small (but logical) step, when pleasure is the goal to regard the child as merely so much tissue, a product of conception.
Paralleling the attitude toward the other, the selfish man or woman views the child as just a thing, a biological growth, which may be cut out or manipulated (e.g, fetal experimentation) in any way. The removal of this growth through abortion might seem to be especially appropriate if the self-centred man or woman does not like it because the child is handicapped or even because the child’s gender is not the one desired. The possibility (or so someone with such an attitude might think) of new growths which may be preferable is always present.
Unborn children then become things (like the sexual partner) which persons rooted in selfishness can make and use to suit themselves. This is selfishness carries to an extreme. With such an attitude, the human race cannot survive because God made us to love, to give, not to be selfish.
Abortion, as an extreme manifestation of selfishness, is a radical contradiction in the familial communion of persons. Moreover, in the premarital or adulterous union, abortion is an even more extreme indication of selfishness than the relationship itself. In all cases, abortion is a sign of the total rejection of the child’s mother or father. When the partners in marriage truly make a self-donation to one another, i.e., when they love one another, they are open to life.
A rejection of life is a rejection of love. On the other hand, the giving and acceptance of new life is the most profound realization of the familial communion of persons. But even outside of marriage, a baby is always flesh of the parents. To reject that person, a new life and the fruit of love, is to reject the sexual partner. Thus, abortion is not only destructive to children (undoubtedly the most terrible aspect of the war on the unborn), it also destroys mothers and fathers.
Short of the murder of the spouse or of one’s sexual partner, abortion, the taking of life, is the greatest possible rejection of another.
*Familiaris Consortio #14
** Love and Responsibility p.55
from Covenant of Love by Frs. Richard M. Hogan and John M. LeVoir
Covenant of Love is based on the writing of Pope St. John Paul II.