Thursday, January 22, 2015

Compassion vs Human Dignity in the Abortion Debate

Today is the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, and so my thoughts today turn to this momentous decision.  During last fall’s election season, I heard a political candidate say that she supports the pro-choice stance because she has compassion for the mother and father who are facing an unplanned pregnancy.  The Catholic Church’s pro-life position is based on the support we should all have for the dignity of the human person.  On the surface, both sound like logical arguments … having compassion for someone who is struggling with this “interruption” to their lifestyle vs respecting the God-given dignity of human beings.  If you scoff at the concept of dignity for the human person, then I suggest that you have allowed the popular modern day secular and atheistic society to enter into your thinking.  We are taught from our faith-based training that men and women are on a higher plain than animals and birds.   Pro-lifers believe that we are made in God’s image and likeness with an intellect and free will.  We have been given dominion over the beasts of the field and birds of the air.  We are not ordinary animals whose habits can be artificially manipulated for what might be construed to be a better deal.  That is the “dignity” aspect as I understand it.

Of course, compassion is also something inherently good based on our faith-based training.  In the case of abortion, there are two conflicting compassion scenarios:  compassion for the parents and compassion for the unborn baby.  In one case, a human being loses his/her life while the life of the parents goes on, while in the other case, the life of both go on.  I don’t know about you, but this latter scenario makes the most sense to me … the lives of all parties continues while respect for human dignity prevails. 

My prayer today is this:  “Lord, please, in your mercy, instill the respect for human dignity into the minds of all so that all human beings that you have willed to enter into this life will be able to do so without harm while, at the same time, we may have our acts of compassion directed according to your will.  Amen.”  

Respecting the dignity of all human beings, faith-based organizations often construct monuments called the “tomb of the unborn child.”  One example is pictured below.  This one is at the Trinity Heights Center in Sioux City, Iowa.   

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