“ It is through … conscience that [people] see and recognize the demands of the divine law. [All are] bound to follow this conscience faithfully in all [their] activity so that [they] may come to God, who is [their] last end.” (Declaration on Religious Liberty, §3)
Why give priority to informed conscience?
Reasons drawn from what conscience is
But even informed conscience can be wrong!
Because the Church can be wrong, need a place for individual conscience (those walking the terrain); but
Because individual conscience can be wrong, need a place for the Church (those drawing up the maps) to form conscience
“ Catholic Social Thought” seeks to exercise and form your moral conscience
What surprised you, or what didn’t you know, about what the Church and U.S. Supreme Court are saying in their respective documents on abortion? vt
contrast what the Church and the Supreme Court are saying about abortion and the personhood of the fetus, and
try to understand what personhood means in the first place.
Summarize the Church's conclusions about the immorality of direct abortion and the reasons it gives for them (in II & III). Explain what the Church says about the personhood of the fetus and why (esp. §13). Summarize the Supreme Court's conclusions and the reasons it gives for the legality of abortion. Explain what the Supreme Court says about the personhood of the fetus and why.
A 2 3 4 5 6
Conclusion: No direct abortion ever (§14)
Reasons for the Conclusion:
Scripture (§5) on killing and preciousness of life
Church Tradition (§§6-7) against abortion
Natural Law (§§8-13)— “Respect for human life is not just a Christian obligation” (§8)
The Church on the Personhood of the Fetus
Human being is a genetic term: tells what something is [we know there ’s a human being at conception]
Human person is a moral term: tells how something should be treated, what rights it has [to play it safe, we must assume personhood from conception]
Conclusion: Abortion is legal and laws denying it are unconstitutional.
Reasons for the Conclusion:
Woman ’s right to privacy (1st Trimester)
Health of the woman (2nd Trimester)
“ Potential life” of the fetus (3rd Trimester)
Supreme Court on Personhood of the Fetus
Fetus is not a person until live birth, because of ….
Legal precedent: “The unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense.” (XP, p. 37)
Theological/Philosophical uncertainty: “When those trained in … medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary … is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.” (XP, p. 37)
Church: We don’t know if fetus is a person.
Court: We don’t know if fetus is a person.
Therefore, we shall assume it is. Therefore, we shall assume it ’s not.