Evangelium Vitae: The Unspeakable Crime of Abortion
From “The Encyclicals in Everyday Language” by Joseph G. Donders.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance” (Ps 139:16)
58. The Second Vatican Council defines abortion,
together with infanticide, as an “unspeakable crime” (GS 51)
The perception of its gravity has become progressively obscured.
Its acceptance in the popular mind
is a sign of the crisis of moral sense.
As the prophet says:
“Woe to those who call evil good” (Is 5:20)
There is widespread use of ambiguous terminology
especially in the case of abortion,
such as the term, “interruption of pregnancy,”
which tends to hides its true nature.
This playing with words is maybe itself a sign
of an uneasiness of conscience.
No word has the power the change things:
procured abortion is direct killing.
We are dealing with the murder
of a human being at the very beginning of life,
lacking even that minimal from of defense
consisting of the cries and tears of a newborn baby.
Sometimes the mother herself makes the decision,
not out of selfish reasons or out of convenience,
but to protect her own health
or a decent standard of living for her family.
Sometimes it is feared that the child would live in such conditions
that it would be better not to be born.
These and similar reasons can never justify
the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.
59. In addition to the mother others might decide
upon the death of the child in the womb.
The father may be to blame,
or the pressure of the wider family circle and friends.
Moral responsibility lies with all those
who directly or indirectly obliged her to have the abortion.
Doctors and nurses who put their skills
at the service of death are also responsible,
like the legislators who promote or approve abortion laws
and the administration of abortion centers.
Responsibility lies with those who spread sexual permissiveness
or a lack of esteem for motherhood
and those who do not support effective family policies.
Then there is the international network
that systematically campaigns for the legalization of abortion
even beyond the responsibility of individuals
and giving it a distinctly social dimension.
We are facing what can be called a ‘structure of sin’
that opposes unborn life.
From “Evangelium Vitae” #58-59
“John Paul II - The Encyclicals in Everyday Language” by Joseph G. Donders
For a study guide to Evangelium Vitae, see the Priests for Life website
For the original encyclical in its entirety, see the Vatican website