Isn't abortion basically a question of personal freedom?
In recent years, a new dimension has been
added to the Catholic Church's pro-life teaching. It is an analysis of the meaning
of authentic or Christian freedom, as opposed to the false but seductive freedom
promoted by advocates of legal abortion. Pope John Paul IIís encyclical The
Gospel of Life addresses this in three major points.
First, freedom is never merely about the
well-being of the individual. It is always also a relational matter. Freedom
necessarily involves "solidarity,...openness to others and service of them."
God "entrusts us to one another" to care for and serve each other. When people
act as if freedom is just about "me," the results are predictable: The strong
people exercising their "freedom" completely dominate the weak "who have no
choice but to submit" (#19). Christian freedom turns this on its head, saying
that there is no freedom in running away from responsibility for others, but
only in accepting a special obligation to care for the weakest. The unborn, unseen,
unheard, physically and legally powerless are among these.
Second, Christian freedom sees "an essential
link" between freedom and truth. Jesus told us, "The truth will set you free"
(Jn 8:32). Acting against truth hurts not only the victim, but also the actor.
It is easy to see how when a culture embraces
the idea that "freedom" means "me" and "my opinion," and leaves God out, abortion
comes in with a vengeance. The powerless child is killed. The truth about the
child's humanity is simply denied in the face of all of the evidence to the
contrary. We become blind to God's image and likeness in the person of every
single human being.
Christian freedom, on the other hand, calls
for a way of life in which the weakest are not merely spared, but are looked
after with greater care.
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