Pro-Life Legislation

History of Fr. Morrow

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Pro-Life Legislation

Governments have fundamental responsibilities which they must discharge to the best of their ability independently of democratic votes. Among these is the responsibility to protect the lives of all innocent people in the community. This duty becomes very obvious if one considers the situation wherein a racist Parliament votes for the summary execution of all the whites, or all the blacks, or all the Jews in the country. No Government can dream of acting accordingly. At Nuremberg nations recognised this principle and accepted that there are crimes against humanity which no one can perpetrate with impunity, not even under orders from above.

The principle holds good for the protection of unborn children. In safeguarding them there must be no compromise and no exceptions.

Today it is commonplace, sad to say, for governments to attempt to make exceptions to the general principle. A particularly tempting exception is that of allowing abortion"to save the life of the mother", as it is put. No one, after all, wants to appear inconsiderate of the mother, of her health or of her life. No-one wants to say or appear to say that mothers may be set at risk through too strict a law concerning their unborn child.

It is necessary to explore the implications of adopting this compromise very carefully.
To begin with, we need to understand what is a right. A right is some good which is due to me from others. The supreme good of our existence is given us freely by God. We do not have any rights in relationship to God. We did not need to exist in the first place. He need not have given us the gift of existence. But God must be and is faithful to his own word. When He creates a human being with an immortal soul He will be faithful in maintaining that person in existence for the rest of eternity. When God makes a promise He is faithful to it. Only in a very limited sense do we have the right to any grace from God. We can count on Him to keep the promises He has made us.

From our fellow men we have a right to many things the most fundamental of which is our own life. Simultaneously we have a corresponding duty to all other innocent people to leave them in peaceful possession of the fundamental gift of life itself. (I will not deal here with the problems of warfare, self defence, capital punishment, which are outwith the scope of this essay.)

Furthermore, God has not given any individual or group some superior rights whereby they may deprive the  innocent of their  gift of life itself.   In relation to



one another regarding the fundamental good of life we are all created equal.

At what point in our existence do we get this essential right to life? There can only be answer and that is - when we began to be. No-one can provide some other stage after we began to be at which the right to life is added to the gift of life. Because God made us in His likeness, because we have immortal souls, because we are equal in certain basic gifts, then we have a right from the moment conception. The time of birth is an absurd alternative. We existed for a long time before we were ever born.

Furthermore, if not everyone has the right to life from conception, then we have a situation with untenable discrimination between individuals. No-one can provide a criterion whereby they judge that some acquire the right to life at conception and others do not, nor can they supply a time after conception when this limited group, which did not have the right to begin with, gained the right after all. Here we are in the area of totally arbitrary thinking. Such criteria are simply not available and abortionists, who intensely dislike this type of discussion and reflection, never attempt to provide the criteria which are necessary.

Indeed, if not all have the right to life from conception then we undermine the right to life of the entire human race!  Why?  Because each of  us then has the  problem

of determining why we got the right to life, when we got it, who we got it from and why it was not at the beginning. These questions are unanswerable other than on the basis given above. We have our gift from God, we must respect His gifts in one another, and we received our gift right from the beginning when we became human beings at conception.

Now let us consider the tempting suggestion that sme babies may be sacrificed in order to save the life of the mother. The baby to be sacrificed has on this hypothesis already been conceived. It began to exist when the maternal contribution, the ovum, was fertilised by the paternal contribution, the sperm, and it needed like the rest of us to get the right to life then. Later, we have to assume that it is discovered that the mother has poor health and may perhaps be unable to bear the child until it is viable and has a`reasonable prospect of survival outside of the womb. In some way the child's previous right to life is over-ruled, making the previous right meaningless in the first place. Are we to decide that God abandons His gift to that child when the sad prognosis is made about the mother? Are we to decide that this particular child did not have the right to life after all from the moment of conception? Are we to say that the strong are entitled to deprive the weak of their divinely created existence and human, physical life? All these ideas are ridiculous. The baby had his or her



right like everyone else necessarily from conception and continues to enjoy the right to life even when the pregnancy's development at that time proves to be dangerous to the mother.

To take that baby's life is evil. It is deliberately killing the innocent. It cannot be justified. Sound medicine simply requires that we do all that is within our reasonable resources and power to protect both that baby and its mother. People can easily see that we must not deliberately execute the mother in order to save that baby and they should also be able to see that we do not undermine the right to life of the entire human race in order to justify killing that baby and saving the mother.

There is more can be added. Two prophesies would have to be made before proceeding to kill the unfortunate baby. First prophesy would be that the mother would definitely die unless the baby were deliberately and directly killed. (I am not talking here about early delivery at a time when the baby has a chance of survival: this is an entirely different thing.) The second prophesy would be that if the baby is killed the mother would definitely live. Neither prophesy can be absolutely guaranteed. And it will easily be discerned that pro-life doctors will be vastly more reluctant to make these prophesies, if at all, than pro-abortion doctors.

Many nations of the world have attempted to defend exceptioins to the right to life. The British in particular have spelled out all sorts of conditions under which a baby may be killed. They thereby made the whole class of unborn children a disposable class of humanity. They are second class citizens. These second-class citizens are weighed in the balance by the strong and healthy and adult and whether or not they are allowed to live is determined by the strong. Any legislation which makes any exceptions falls into the same category as the British. As soon as the strong may pontificate over the weak and decide that in certain circumstances, however rare, however exceptional, however strictly edged round with conditions and apparent safeguards, the weak may go to the wall, then the entire class of unborn children is gravely undermined. As a group their right to life has still to be determined by others and those others are human beings like themselves. This is all totally and utterly unacceptable.

The world will not be cured of abortionism by unsound legislation, unsound thinking, unsound moral principles. We look for some country somewhere to stand up firmly for the right to life of all and spread that message to those who have gone in our day so very far astray and have a fantastic holocaust to show for it.

Lastly,  let us note  the immense  practical  difficulties



which confront those who would legislate on a basis of protecting "almost all". Take the case we have dealt with so urgently above. Conditions have to be clarified, safeguards have to be spelled out. The kind of arrangement likely would be that several doctors have to make the two prophecies above and put their guarantees down in writing. Soon further questions will be asked. How soon during pregnancy can one kill the baby with a view to protecting the mother? Why wait until the last minute? If the mother has cancer or heart disease of some kind, why not kill the baby sooner? What degree of cancer is necessary and in what parts of the body? What degree of concern over the health of the heart? With abortionists signing the forms guaranteeing that the mother needs the abortion to save her life, such questions get answered with more and more liberalism. Before long, the most trivial of conditions is enough for certain types of doctor to give their assurance that the woman is entitled to an abortion. And so the abortions are done earlier and earlier for more trivial reasons, and there is no way that it would ever possible to prevent this. It is simply not possible to hold back the flood once the wall has been breached.

I must make it clear that when God gives each of us the gift of life, we are then obliged to safeguard that gift in ourselves with reasonable means and prudence and are also obliged to safeguard that gift in others within reasonable    practicality.       Once    God    gives    the

fundamental gift of life, it must be treasured in me and in others as something from Him to be looked after and which only He may reclaim.

In 1929 the British had supposedly strict pro-baby legislation, the Infant Life Preservation Act, which allowed abortion only to save the life of the mother! By 1966 this exception was being used to justfify over 20,000 abortins per year, as was admitted by a British Government Report, the Lane Report.

That is where all such compromises will end up.

Rev. James Morrow,

          March 1992.