Monday, June 27, 2022
Fr. Eduardo Barrios, SJ
The choice to have an abortion is sometimes made for trivial reasons, such as being able to enjoy greater freedom to travel or to have money for home improvements, or for other purely material advantages.
But sometimes the choice is made in a very dramatic context, as when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. The drama is heightened when the pregnant woman is a minor.
Then we hear the voices of so many people involved in such a delicate decision. The parents of the pregnant woman speak; doctors and nurses speak; maybe the man who caused the untimely pregnancy will speak; and perhaps even the expectant young woman herself will speak. There will not be unanimous agreement, but the majority will probably argue in favor of proceeding with the abortion.
But in this tragic drama, there is an individual who is not consulted, namely, the child being carried in the mother's womb.
If the person who is in the process of gestation could speak, what would he (or she) say?
So many things!
He would say that, from conception, he is a living human being. He would add that at a few weeks of intrauterine development, he already has the characteristics of a newborn. He would beg not to be killed, to be allowed to be born; that he is just a harmless unborn baby, innocent, vulnerable and defenseless.
This unborn baby dislikes being called a fetus, because that term, so lacking in euphony, makes him similar to the irrational animals that are also in gestation.
He hears but cannot naturally decipher the whispering of the drama's loquacious characters. Some of them will argue that he has no right to be born because he is not an independent human being. It is true that the unborn child is totally dependent on the mother through the umbilical cord, through which oxygen and all the nutrients necessary to develop in the placenta reach him. But he does not identify himself with the mother; he is a new human being with his own characteristics and with a vital principle or immortal soul, which does not come from her, but from God (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 33, 366).
The unborn child could also refute the dependency argument by pointing to the incontrovertible fact that his cousins and siblings already born are totally dependent on their parents for a long time through an invisible umbilical cord: They must be fed and cared for around the clock. Then, as they grow older, children become less and less dependent on their parents, but not entirely. They will only become fully independent when they finish their studies and enter the workforce. If they were eliminated for being a financial burden on their parents, many offspring would be in jeopardy well into their twenties.
If the growing baby rejected in the womb could make his case, he would suggest that he be given up for adoption. He would appeal to a great truth: That there are married couples who, after long years of marriage, have not been able to have children, and who would gladly embrace adoption. Adoption has always been presented as the best alternative to abortion.
We must listen to the muted clamor of so many abortion candidates who demand respect for the most inalienable of human rights, the right to be born.
This blog originally appeared as a column in the May 2022 edition of La Voz Catolica.