Prudent, Commonsense Regard for Innocent Life: A Fence Around the Law

The Catholic position on abortion can be described in commonsense terms as prudent restraint in the use of deadly force under the condition of uncertainty.

Abortion is thus in many ways a sin against prudence.

One does not fire a rifle at the first flicker of white in the distance without determining that flicker indeed came from a deer’s tail, and not a human. One innocent New England human mother was indeed killed during hunting season while carrying white mittens which a hunter mistook for a deer’s tail in the distance.

One does not turn off one’s headlights while speeding down a unlit country road alone at 2AM, even though statistically speaking, the chances of anyone walking down the road are quite slim. The consequences of even such a rare accident are likely to be death.

Airplanes will sit on the tarmac for hours for the sake of repairing even the slightest imperfection in the machinery.

Governments will spend millions of dollars and allow over a decade of appeals prior to enforcing a death penalty.

But proponents of abortion take quite the opposite view: The least uncertainty over whether the baby growing in the womb has a soul, a heart, a brain, the capacity for pain, the capacity to survive outside the womb, etc., all justify for the abortion-prone the use of deadly force.

Abortion and, indeed, euthanasia, are thus just about the only human actions short of war in which deadly force is presumed justified by uncertainty.

The Catholic position on the other hand presumes that human life is so valuable that it should not be risked under uncertainty. The Catholic position honors God and does not usurp a godly role in that only God knows the when life really begins, when the soul joins the body, etc. The Catholic position honors men and women in that it builds a moral boundary of protection around the most innocent and vulnerable stage of human existence.

Since many forms of birth control prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the womb and thus surviving, Catholics consider these drugs abortifacients that thus violate the same prudent regard for life under uncertainty.

In a recent homily, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ, spoke in minute 7:52 about “Building a fence around the law.”

The Biblical prohibition against boiling a kid in her mother’s milk (Exodus 23:19) was expanded by ancient writers of the Mishnah to prohibit the cooking of any meat in milk, lest by chance the milk and meat would be from goats. Separate kitchens for milk and for meat are thus among Jewish traditions.

The man who recently allegedly brought a gun to a Florida church to sell it, and who wound up accidentally shooting the pastor’s daughter, did not apparently “build a fence around the law.” He did not consider the House of God so sacred that he would never bring a violent instrument into it. As a licensed gun owner, he was allegedly allowed by civil laws to bring a gun to church, so there have so far been no charges against him. In this instance, “building a fence around the law,” not ever dreaming of bringing an instrument of violence, nor even imagining bringing a gun to sell in a church, may have saved a grave injury to another.

Catholics “build a fence around the law” in a similar fashion where the innocent lives of the unborn are concerned. We avoid even the slightest chance of hurting the child in the womb, because of the great potential and meaning of that life.

How cheap, how shyster-like is the abortion-prone outlook that the merest uncertainty about the status of an innocent life in the womb allows us to destroy it.

There is thus a deep and persuasive logic and consistency to the Catholic position on the defense of life. The Catholic position is indeed the Good News, the Gospel of Life.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


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One Response to “Prudent, Commonsense Regard for Innocent Life: A Fence Around the Law”

  1. […] As I have written earlier, the abortion and euthanasia decisions are those in which doubt about the existence of life now lead not to caution, but to deadly force. But in almost every other human endeavor, even modern warfare, doubt about the danger to life leads to prudent caution for life-preservation instead. […]

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