The Catholic Church has excommunicated the mother, who arranged an abortion for her 9 year old daughter, who was pregnant with twins as a result of rape by her stepfather.
There is a heap of controversy over this in the blogosphere, the most insane of which is the Hand Mirror claiming this is evidence the Catholic Church hates girl children I note they claim this despite the Irish Times reporting:
The archbishop made clear that the excommunication did not extend to the young girl at the centre of the case.
I don’t get the controversy. I honestly do not get it at all.
Do people not know that the Catholic Church views abortion as homicide? Is this a fact that people are not aware of – is this not common knowledge?
I am not Catholic but even I was aware of their stance on abortion and in case you missed it, they are opposed to it on the grounds it is a form of homicide. Given this, the Catholic Church has acted consistently with their beliefs in excommunicating the mother in this case. Their position is that:
Homicide can only be justified in a narrow set of circumstances.
Abortion is homicide.
Therefore: Abortion can only be justified in narrow set of circumstances.
The narrow set of circumstances that exist in law as defences to homicide do not include consideration for who the father of the victim is, what crimes he has committed against you and how traumatised you feel. This may be harsh, but it is the law. As a law student I can assure you that if you find yourself in a court of law and you say to the court “but your honour, I hired a hitman to stab them to death because their father raped my daughter” you will not get off a homicide charge. The court will sympathise with your plight, they may view it as a form of provocation, which may mitigate your sentence, but it is not a defence that will excuse homicide.
Self-defence where a threat to life is imminent and for which there is no other alternative is a defence that will fly, however, it is not clear that this was the case here (despite the reported commentst to the contrary). As NZ Conservative pointed out, there pregnancies can be being successfully managed in children of this age, modern medicine can achieve this.
Given all of this, please point to where the Catholic Church erred in or acted inconsistently with their reasoning. [Pointing to the step-father’s alleged lack of excommunication is a red herring as being wrong on another matter does not make you wrong on all.]
Now, before the Hand Mirror et al can accuse me of supporting child rape or conduct some other bogus psycho-analysis as feminists of their ilk are wont to do when other women disagree with them, let me be clear.
Rape, particularly rape of a child, especially when it is done by those whose relationship with the child is supposed to meet the threshold of ‘parent,’ warrants the death penalty.
However, I must argue stridently that the death penalty should be carried out on the offender and not a third party.
It is not a justification to take someone’s life because their father committed a heinous crime and another person is suffering because of it or because of how you might feel if they go on living.
On other blogs where I have commented on this issue, I have been accused of being indifferent to the plight the mother and her child faced and of lacking emotion. The first thing I want to say to this charge is that I would hope that when dealing with an ethical issue I would lack emotion. Clear, rational thinking is vital when confronted with highly emotional issues.
If I am honest, the minute I heard this story my reaction was of emotion. I have an almost 9 year old daughter and I would happily kill to protect her and am certain that I would struggle to limit myself to ‘proportional force’ against anyone who harmed her in that manner. Most parents reading this will be able to relate to the instinct I am speaking from.
However, if we contemplate harming the born children of such an attacker we should immediately know that it would be wrong to direct our instinctive parental-protection-violence towards them. Why so, then, do we not have this instinct when we contemplate killing the unborn children of such an attacker? What assumptions are inherent in the different response?
Inherent in this response is an assumption that the unborn lack some feature that the born possess. What is that feature and can it rationally justify the different responses?
Maybe it is the fact that we are horrified that the child, not only raped, now has to deal with pregnancy and birth.
Does abortion un-rape her? Think about the method of abortion; is it any less traumatic to have instruments inserted into her vagina, people looking and touching, pain, medical risk from the procedure?
More importantly, though, is the trauma of having to go through pregnancy and birth and deal with all that entails, justification for homicide of people we are not making assumptions about? Could I justify killing you for that reason? No? Then, why can I kill a fetus for that reason?
Is it the fact that these are rapists children so somehow they are less human. Just think about that one. Is it fair or just to treat a born person whose father is a rapist this way? No? Once again, the unstated assumption that a fetus is not on par with a born person is evident.
Cases like this one, when you strip away the emotion and rationally assess them come back to the same position:
If abortion is not homicide, then any and all abortion is morally benign.
On the other hand:
If abortion is homicide, then abortion must be treated the same way we treat other homicide.
You cannot solve this dilemma by getting hysterical, accusing those on one side of hating people, pointing to other things they may be doing wrong or turning your brains off because you are justifiably horrified at child rape. Set your emotions aside and think the issues through consistently; start here.
Is Abortion Liberal? Part 1
Is Abortion Liberal? Part 2
Sentience Part 1
Sentience Part 2
Abortion and Brain Death: A Response to Farrar
Abortion and Capital Punishment: No Contradiction
Imposing You Beliefs Onto Others: A Defence
Published: Boonin’s Defense of the Sentience Criteria – A Critique
Published: Abortion and Capital Punishment – No Contradiction