The Moral Order of the World.
The Decalogue (the ten commandments).
In particular the sixth commandment.
( Concluded )
An example of a possible and perhaps not so unusual case deserves special attention here. It can happen that a man demands sexual relations with his wife, but objects to a child or any children. If the wife refuses him out of a moral conscience, then the passionate husband could let it come to the point of breaking up the marriage. Apart from the possible use of force by the husband, the question could be asked: Can, may or should the wife submit to the husband's demand in spite of his threat (to wreck the marriage and family)? If she is submissive, it would be hard to condemn her or to burden her severely, though of course here also the axiom still applies: the end does not justify the means. In this case, if the wife now refuses to yield to her husband's demands of abortion, in spite of his threats and in spite of the danger of wrecking their marriage, then this is a heroic act and a highly valued moral attitude.
But now let us return here to the most severe offence and sin: I mean abortion. Statistical surveys have proved that abortion has already become an epidemic on the part of the white people on our side and on the other side of the ocean. With the increase of atheism, there is a contrasting development that is trying to bring about freedom from punishment for abortion. With the battle-cry "the womb belongs to me," the organized women in Germany and in other countries storm against punishment for abortion. According to Stern magazine (June 6, 1971), 374 women, among them theater and movie stars, declared publicly: "We have had abortions." It is clear: if these and many other cases of abortion were to be taken to court, it would create an avalanche of lawsuits in the German courts of justice, before which the legislators and judges would have to surrender.
Should then justice and truth surrender before the power of immoral and murderous practices? Karl Peters, a reputable lawyer, wrote sharp words in "Abortion in the view of a lawyer," (Mainz 1955), against freedom from punishment, or rather the relaxation of the practice of punishment, for abortion: "The extermination of a human life, even if it is an embryo, is such a serious and severe fact, that it must be marked by law in its seriousness and weightiness. The law must guide and direct the moral point of view. Disregarding or attaching little value to the principles of life, which has begun, carries the danger in itself of expanding more and more. The inner relation of the problem of the interruption of pregnancy and of euthanasia, which is the killing of the mentally ill and finally the killing of unpleasant and undesirable human beings, should not be overlooked. The law must never help to dismiss severe and significant events as trifling. When a grave act has been committed, the law must speak up clearly and distinctly." (p. 40). It is regrettable that modern intellectual movements, such as the positivism of rights, sociological pragmatism, liberal moralism and evolutionistic historicism, under the influence of many prominent politicians, are not concerned about the law of God and morality, but merely about the preservation of the necessary number of human beings (citizens). Only when abortion, the murder of a child and negligence of children, jeopardize the continued existence of society, then sanctions are taken against the parents.
A particular case-- and with this, we come to the last point-- arises with "killing as a necessity" in birth. Pope Pius XII in his statements, took a stand on this: "Every human being, including the child in its mother's womb, has the right to life given directly from God, and not from the parents or any other association or human authority. No one, no human authority, no science and no medical, eugenic, social, economic and moral 'indication' can make a valid legal claim for a direct enactment over an innocent human life, an enactment which aims at the destruction, whether it is killing itself or a means for another purpose, which by itself is not permitted. To save the life of the mother is a noble purpose. But the direct killing of the child as a means to this purpose is not permitted." At that time it was above all the medical profession that was aroused, and that became indignant at the "narrow-minded" Pope.
To give this a clear, comprehensive and reasonable judgment, diverse features must be taken into consideration. The many motives allowing abortion of the affected mother are summarized under the term of "indication." The medical indication finds it appropriate to stop pregnancy, that means killing the unborn child, usually when there exists an immediate danger of the mother's life. The eugenic indication supports the interruption of pregnancy, when a severe deformity because of heredity is to be expected. The ethical indication says that after rape an abortion is appropriate. A psychological indication can also be spoken of (according to Johannes Grundel) when the pregnant woman as a result of severe depression, is hardly in the position of carrying the child for the full time of her pregnancy. The social indication justifies abortion, when the expected child means a far too great social or economic burden for the family. Recently a childlike indication is also spoken of. According to it, carrying the child for the full time of pregnancy is unreasonable when the mother of the future child has not completed her 16th year. A professional or cosmetic indication has been mentioned occasionally. The full completion of pregnancy would be felt as an intolerable expectation by an actress or ballet dancer, with respect to her physical appearance. As the last indication, I wish to add to this catalogue the ethnical indication. This would take place when a country, because of a threatening surplus of births, has to decrease the number of births through birth control, and for that purpose either sanctions or demands an interruption of pregnancy.
The Church holds the viewpoint that unborn life, always and by all means, and in all circumstances, has to be protected. The Church has never deviated from this concept. On June 23, 1971, the head of the commission of the German bishops, Prelate Woeste, presented an official statement to Jahn, the minister of justice. In this statement the bishops made allowance for the interruption of pregnancy and for freedom of punishment (abortion, the killing of the unborn) only by the medical indication. This means that if the danger of death or other unreasonable, severe and sustained injury, in the body and health of the mother, can be averted, the killing of the unborn is permitted. In such an emergency, the interruption of pregnancy should not be prosecuted by law, if it is humanly defensible or politically right. However-- and this is of great importance-- the statement applies that in such a case the killing of the unborn "cannot be justified ethically;" (this is in accordance with the view of Pius XII, quoted above). This is not a contradiction, because law and ethics are on two different levels. However, if an act is not prosecuted by law, that does not necessarily mean that it is allowed morally.
As indicated in the German Bishops' statement to the commission: "All the other indications were rejected; it is not a matter of, firstly, a question of faith, but rather of the safeguarding of the rights of the innocent and their lives. This right is older than any country, and older than the Church. Abortion is not permitted, because the Church forbids the killing of the innocent, but because it was unjust and still is unjust, for all human beings, and likewise for all times, and therefore the Church refers to this injustice for the sake of humanity." This alone is the view of the Church, its teaching of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
I conclude this theme and problem with a quotation from Georg Siegmund (Natur der menschlichen Sexualitaet, p. 174 f.): "The temptation of the individual, in difficult situations of life, is to destroy the growing life by abortion, in order to protect themselves from disdain, economic, social and physical disadvantages, and also temptations against responsibility, the pressure of the mass-media by liberalizing the laws of justice, and to give in to everything that today is so enormous that only a very profound sense of responsibility, anchored in one's conscience, can impede such temptations, by considering the absolute authority of a personal God. Consequently, the question whether abortion should be allowed, is strictly speaking a religious decision."
In today's current discussion about permission for abortion, the ultimate, fundamental importance of the individual person to confess his belief in the real, personal God of creation is not presented. Even though not too many persons have yet succumbed to the slogan of the "death of God," their faith is weakened, so that they cannot pull themselves together to believe that all life emanates from God, and that the giver of life remains the sovereign master of it. More and more concessions are made to the idea of the "autonomous man," to whom it is permitted to disregard true morals by preventing severe states of distress. Under the sign of sympathy they try time and again to have their motives accepted. It is another matter for the person who still believes in God as the sovereign master of life. He has to travel a more difficult road. He sees the tragedy of a difficult human destiny. He suffers because of this, because he is not able to help, as his feelings are suggesting. But in the last instance, his conscience must remain, which does not permit him to do evil, so that good may result from it.
It is a matter of truth, of conscience, but even truth is made relative by the "new morality." And Erik v. Kuehnelt-Leddin, the philosopher of culture, when he wrote in Herz, Hirn und Ruckgrat, p. 207, was right when he said: "Democracy has broken into the Church recently, even into the Church of Rome. Therefore, in religion everyone can at any time say any nonsense. Only wild, growling feelings exist, but no truth! 'What is truth?' asked Pilate to Our Lord, and without waiting for his answer, he consulted the shouting mob."
--- (End of book)
Biography of Rev. Albert Drexel