The March for Life is nearly here, January 24, possibly prompting more discussion about the issue of abortion with “pro-choice” people you know.
This article is about one single argument you are likely to hear. It seems to come up time and again. It goes something like this:
A woman is pregnant and tragically she gets cancer. She needs an abortion to save her life, but pro-lifers (or “the Catholic Church”) would let (or require) the woman die to save the “fetus”.
Please, please, if you are a woman, don’t go into how you would rather have your baby live, even if you died. That is not the point. That is not the point even if the questioner is coming at the you with a hypothetical situation, i.e. “What if you got cancer and you were pregnant…?” If you say you would rather have your baby live, all you do is reinforce the notion that you don’t believe you have a choice — you brainwashed boob, you. Instead turn the discussion away from what you would choose to the larger question of whether any woman has a choice in this matter according to Catholic teaching.
The point we need to keep returning to is that a woman is free to choose to save her life, even by means of a treatment that will certainly result in the loss of the unborn child. Neither reason, the natural moral law, nor the Catholic Church demand that she must sacrifice herself to save the child. Nor has positive law (laws made by legislators) ever done so. Even when procured abortion was strictly against the law, the law recognized the right of a woman to receive a medical treatment that had as an unintended consequence the destruction of the fetus’ life in such cases as uterine cancer or ectopic pregnancy. And she doesn’t have to have even one child in order to exercise that right — her right to life is inviolable and is not based on some function she performs on behalf of anyone else.