The Catholic Thing
The Aborted Print E-mail
By James V. Schall, S. J.   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012

How does one think of the actually aborted? They are not abstractions, however tiny. They constitute a significant proportion of all human beings called into existence. We have no monuments or graves to commemorate their being here. Their bodies are said to have “commercial” use or can be used to “aid” others to improve their lives. So they are not “nothing.” Their elimination must be “justified.”

Each human being begins at conception and lasts until that initial life force ends in death, say, four score and ten years later if not sooner – for the aborted, much sooner. Many human lives never reach birth for reasons of sickness, accidents, or malformation. We call them “mis-carriages.” The immediate cause of their death was not willed human intervention.

Karl Rahner once wrote: “‘To be born’ means to come into existence without being asked.” An abortion terminates a begun human life by human agency. The aborted or its agency is again not asked or considered. Murder is the unjust destruction of an already born human being at the hands of another, again without the victim’s being asked. The aborted have the act ending their life “done unto them.”

We are not “asked” whether we want to be born or not. That is a great thing, really. Existence and even the desire to exist are in fact not in our hands. They are gifts. What is in our hands is the life of what is begotten of human parents, male and female.

So what is the “status” of those unborn members of the human race that are in fact killed by other human beings whose ostensible responsibility is to protect them and bring them to birth and maturity?

Estimates vary but we are told that, worldwide, some 42 million are aborted each year. This figure is probably a minimum and has been repeated each year for decades. It is well known that girls are more likely to be aborted than boys, so that abortion skews normal ratios of men to women.

               Remembrances of the unborn, Zojiji Temple (Tokyo)    

Many, if not most, have no doubt grown “comfortable” with such numbers. Not a few are more likely to be concerned over the death of pets than over that of the aborted human child. Why is this? In one sense it is true that every aborted child is “unwilled,” not wanted at least to the degree that its already incipient life does not prevent some parent, doctor, or official from killing it, if the one responsible for it wills that it does not wish to deal with the child already present.

For a long while, in this matter, we did everything we could to lie to ourselves about what was being aborted. We had long supposedly scientific explanations about how human life was not there yet. But these days are over. No one can really claim that what is aborted is not a human being in its first stages. We have videos that simply show the unified sequence from conception.

Every human being who ever lived was once in the same condition. The argument, if it is an argument, now accepts that what is killed is human. “Rights talk” makes it possible for us to speak of lives that “should” not exist. The human race now claims authority to decide who lives and who dies. Some actual human beings are not “human” enough to live. To get rid of them has something “noble” about it, like saving the race from itself.

Yet I want to look at the aborted from another angle. We sometimes say of martyrs that they died for a noble cause. We do not recognize that “the aborted” represent a significant part of the human race, that part which is killed by our choice not to have them among us. But who are they? Both the aborted and those who manage to be born have the same ultimate origin.

Each human life begins in conception. The human soul does not cause itself to exist. The origin of each human life is ultimately in the Godhead. Each is an image of God intended for eternal life. This includes each aborted child no matter at what stage its demise was decreed by another not allowing him to continue to exist in this world.

But in that sense, it is too late. It already exists. The total number of human beings who have existed – perhaps some hundred billion thus far on this planet – includes the aborted. It also includes those who aborted them directly or indirectly.

Those who kill the aborted are generally not called to judgment in the courts of this world. But the world is created in ultimate justice. The aborted exist for eternal life, but also to identify who killed them. The aborted remain members of the human race with all the dead. Without being asked, they are killed. Their lives are not “nothing.”  

James V. Schall, S.J., a professor at Georgetown University, is one of the most prolific Catholic writers in America. His most recent books are The Mind That Is Catholic and The Modern Age.
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Comments (11)Add Comment
written by Other Joe, June 26, 2012
It is time for a true monument. It would have to be done on private land, but should be monumental. Perhaps a cathedral could be named and dedicated to the lost babies. It would drive the abortionists mad. More importantly, it would signal the unwary that there is something at stake. The resulting controversy would provide a possible learning moment and reveal much about attitudes among the anti-life crowd.
written by Sue, June 26, 2012
There is a silent film, made in 1916, which adumbrates the same haunting theme. It also searingly exposes the tortuous spiritual blow abortion inflicts on marriage. (You can view it by googling as follows: "Where are my children? National Film Preservation). Its prescient commentary was apparently drowned out by the eugenics propaganda apparatus of the 20th century.
written by Grump, June 26, 2012
Not counting abortions and death by natural causes, researcher R.J. Rummel estimates 133.1 million people before the 20th century were victims of democide, which is defined as the murder of any person or people by a government, including genocide, politicide, and mass murder.

In the 20th Century alone as "advancements" in the art of killing were made, his figure is 169.2 million.

Total dead: more than 300 million throughout history, for which religious conflicts are much to blame.

Whether killed in the womb or outside, murder is murder. Man's regard for his species clearly leaves much to be desired. No other animal is so cruel to his own kind. If man was made in God's image, then draw your own conclusions.

Truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long
-- Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice
written by the earlier Louise, June 26, 2012
"If man was made in God's image, then draw your own conclusions."

That is a cruel sentence, Mr. Grump.
written by KYpapist, June 26, 2012
It is only because man is made in God's image that we can know murder is wrong.
written by Dave, June 26, 2012
I am not a little troubled by Karl Rahner, S.J.'s definition of murder: "thou shalt not kill" seems to be a pretty absolute command, and it seems to include the willful and intentional ending of human life inside the womb, not just outside the womb.

I have long admired the Japanese custom of shrines to the aborted as places to which parents repair to atone for the sin of abortion, and to beg the forgiveness of their aborted children. One imagines the howls of protest were religious sanctuaries erected here so that parents could repair to atone. The Other Joe, you sure have it right.

Only humans exercises stewardship over the whole of creation, and not just for members of our own species. That we get it wrong, and that we often get it wrong intentionally, is not an argument against God: God made us free. I'm sure we all wish that we all would exercise our freedom more responsibly.
written by shieldsheafson, June 27, 2012
I understand that every Wednesday a metal box containing the mortal remains of aborted children is taken from our main hospital to the crematorium for disposal.

O Dear White Rose
Whose petals enfold their hearts
Draw them into the
Centre of your sweetness, Jesus

Fr. Leonard May
written by Deacon Jim Stagg, June 27, 2012
We, the past and present members of the world, will never know the harm that has been caused by the crime of abortion to any type of civilization, if it can be called that, on earth. How many doctors were aborted who would have cured AIDS? How many scientists who might have solved world hunger with a new, genetically-engineered plant which could grow in sand? How many nuclear physicists who could have perfected fusion? How many reasonable people who could have demanded peace among nations? How many people..........we cannot comprehend the damage we have done.
May G-d have mercy on us all!
written by bill bannon, June 28, 2012
If we exaggerate the time of ensoulment, we will help abortion advocates by our losing credibility.
The delayed ensoulment school within Catholicism lasted from the older Augustine until St. Alphonsus when the new view began within the Church. So the delayed school lasted more centuries than the new view. Modern embryology seems to delay ensoulment at least til around day 14 when the totipotential cell mass can still split into two twins or five quintuplets. A soul cannot split according to Aquinas so logically ensoulment cannot happen until the totipotential cell unit makes it's choice as to whether it will be one person or five. In short modern embryology seems to side with the older Catholic school of delayed ensoulment. All this does not have relevance to surgical abortion which is infallibly condemned in section 62 of Evangelium Vitae but it does mean that using the word "abortifacient" for means that prevent implantation is an untruth.
Exaggerations decrease your credibility; they do not increase it. You never hear Popes equate the pill with abortion but you do hear the lower clergy and laity make that jump. The Popes are aware of the "twinning" problem and the chimeric problem. The latter involves two fraternal twin fertilized ova who lay so close to each other after conception that they fuse and become one person instead of twins. Had their been two souls present at conception, this would require the death of which ever ova lost its soul at merging and that death would destroy the physical melding.
written by Graham Combs, June 30, 2012
When I worked in a bookstore I saw a lot of children. It never ceased to amaze and fascinate that the youngest already possessed character, individual traits, personality. Certainly something like evidence of a pre-existing soul. This phenomenon was only emphasized in twins.

But often when I stop to think about abortion or when I pray to end it, I recall a line from Milton. In a eulogy written for a grandniece who died not longer after birth, Milton's verse seems prescient of the industrial abortion now everywhere in the world. The baby was "no sooner blown than blasted."
written by stanley, August 07, 2012
My sense is that the only way to combat the "rights" society we live in is to give rights to the unborn. Applying the logic would mean people in favor of abortion "discriminate" and even "hate"...and as we saw with Chick-fil-A...may be denied businesses etc.

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