A Catholic Reader

Reading Literature in the Light of Faith

Menu Close

Tag: abortion

How is abortion like slavery?

The principals in an earlier pro-life debate

One of the key principles of Catholic Social Teaching is respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. This principle comes into play in all sorts of “life issues” from abortion to euthanasia. In this article from The Catholic Thing, Randall Smith reminds us that a century and a half ago, some people contended that the morality of slavery was a matter on which good people could disagree, and on which politicians should compromise — much as some argue about abortion today.

It would be a mistake to treat all issues as though they were of the overriding importance of slavery, but it would be equally a mistake not to realize that there are historical moments when injustices so fundamental arise that they simply outstrip all else, although the seriousness may not be clear to everyone at the time.

Abortion, he argues, is no more a matter of private “choice” or moral ambiguity than slavery was. Smith cautions Catholic voters:

The Church cannot compel, as governments often do; she can only appeal to the consciences of men and women of good will. Would this sort of clarity help? A Catholic with a properly formed conscience cannot vote for a candidate who favors allowing abortion over who one favors restricting it any more than a Catholic with a properly formed conscience could have voted for a pro-slavery or pro-Nazi candidate. Would anyone today argue that a Catholic would have been somehow justified voting for Douglas over Lincoln, or a Nazi over a Jew?

Don’t fool yourself. Those with ears, let them hear. 

The public danger of a malformed conscience

Marcus Tullius Cicero
One of the Catholic principles most embattled in our increasingly secularized society is that of conscience. Conscience, like religion, the secularists insist, is a private matter that must be sacrificed when it seems to conflict with the common good. In this view, both conscience and religion are, in effect, entirely subjective matters, which have no place in public debate. It’s easy to see how this view of conscience quickly gives way to relativism, “what’s right for me.”

Au contraire, says Matthew Hanely, in this column from The Catholic Thing. Conscience, rightly speaking, is conformed to Truth, and truth is not relativistic.

Conscience – and Cicero – under Siege

By Matthew Hanley

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has not been shy about carrying water for a distinctive brand of politicized medicine. If it is in the Orwellian “Affordable Care Act” (where promised savings of $2,500 on insurance premiums morph into $3,000 increases), the NEJM is ready to offer its “scientific” imprimatur. It ran earnest pro-rationing and pro-euthanasia pieces not long after Obamacare’s opponents were denounced as delusional alarmists; insiders now admit they see a need for death panels.I was making my way through another article in the NEJM last month, fully prepared for its slanted perspective, when something extraordinary happened. Well, I should say that the author ended an exceptionally disturbing and poorly argued piece, entitled “Recognizing Conscience in Abortion Provision,” with an extraordinarily instructive statement


The author, Dr. Lisa Harris from the University of Michigan, wants us to believe that the term “conscience” should not be conceded as the sole property of abortion opponents because some people, like her, feel compelled to provide abortion as a matter of conscience…


Read more.