Class #07


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  • Church’s Conclusion • many 'nevers' (§§ 18, 22, 26)--meaning that direct abortion is never morally permissible regardless of consequences • the conclusion to all this is reached in §14: "Divine law and natural reason, therefore, exclude all right to the direct killing of an innocent man." (this conclusion comes after "In the Light of Faith" and "In the Light of Reason") Church’s Reasoning Scripture Tradition was abortion always considered tantamount to murder? no, see §7 if no soul, no person (animation = getting a soul) this paragraph refers to the fact that from most of its history (during 15 centuries, from 4th to18th), most Catholic theologians and popes did not say the fetus received its soul (and hence becomes a person) immediately at the moment of conception in fact, during middle ages, as "The Theology of Abortion" points out, it was frequently proposed that the male fetus received a soul at 40 days and the (slower) female fetus at 80 days so taking the life of a very young fetus (before around 40 days to play it safe) was not considered murder because there was no person there to be murdered (person can't be killed before the person exists) only a fairly recent development in RC theology--within the last ~140 years (since 1869 when the distinction between an ensouled and unensouled fetus was dropped as far as excommunication was concerned)--to consider a fetus a person from the moment of conception (∆, CHURCH TEACHING DOES CHANGE) the last sentence of §7, ¶ 1 is correct but misleading: abortion was always considered a grave sin, not necessarily because it was murder, but rather because it was a form of birth control--the ultimate form of birth control which separated sex from procreation (we'll talk more about this when we discuss IVF) (3) Natural law human nature: so a kind of natural law argument because of the natural law argument, “Respect for human life is not just a Christian obligation” (§8) Right to Life: "The first right of the human person is his life" (§11) and there’s even a sense that experience is appealed to in §§14-18 Church on Personhood Personhood and right to life from conception Does Church KNOW this (see §13, n19)? the Church talks about the evidence of biology that a new human being is there from fertilization on (§13) but biology cannot give definitive help when the issue is personhood, because that is a philosophical and moral question so, the Church presupposes the conceptual distinction between human being and human person the issue is one of evaluation, and you can't prove evaluations (gold coin) human being is a biological term--tells what something is (life definitely begins at conception) human person is a moral term--tells how something should be treated, what sorts of rights it has biology can only tell us WHAT something is, not how WE should treat it personhood of fetus ASSUMED (cannot be KNOWN)
  • Texas law was ruled unconstitutional Court pointed to three things woman’s right to privacy this made it the woman’s decision but there’s nothing in the Constitution about a right to privacy it was interpreted out of it if woman’s right to privacy, what must be true of fetus? part of her body why husbands/boyfriends have no rights here (2) Health of the woman state can impose certain restrictions to safeguard the health of the one it considers a person the woman's right to privacy, they argued, is not the only relevant consideration so in the interests of protecting the woman's health, the state may impose restrictions on when an abortion may be procured 1 st trimester—no restrictions (abortion is safer than childbirth) 2 nd trimester—restrictions for woman’s health (where performed, who performs, etc.) --some states (Oklahoma, Kentucky) allow a woman to perform an abortion on herself (in OK, needs physician supervision) (3) Potential life of the fetus 3 rd trimester—can prohibit abortion altogether out of concern for “potential life” of the fetus—most states do, and it’s hard to find places to do them --around the beginning of 28 th week (viability—can live outside the womb) not a person at viability (if so, 14 th amendment rights) so, third-trimester abortions can be prohibited, except for reasons relating to the life or health of the women where “health” is understood very broadly Court’s Conclusion on Personhood Fetus can’t be a person, or else case collapses due to 14 th amendment Court’s Reasoning on Personhood Fetus has never been recognized as a person in the eyes of the law that causes legal gymnastics when a pregnant woman is attacked, or when a pregnant woman is a drug user (child abuse laws) also relates to partial-birth abortions, because not a person until live brith No agreement on personhood
  • Class #07

    1. 1. <ul><li>Conclusion: No direct abortion ever (§14) </li></ul><ul><li>Reasons for the Conclusion: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scripture (§5) on killing and preciousness of life </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Church Tradition (§§6-7) against abortion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Natural Law (§§8-13)— “Respect for human life is not just a Christian obligation” (§8) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Church on the Personhood of the Fetus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Human being is a genetic term: tells what something is [we know there ’s a human being at conception] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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] </li></ul></ul>II. III.
    2. 2. <ul><li>Conclusion: Abortion is legal and laws denying it are unconstitutional. </li></ul><ul><li>Reasons for the Conclusion: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Woman ’s right to privacy (1st Trimester) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Health of the woman (2nd Trimester) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Potential life” of the fetus (3rd Trimester) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Supreme Court on Personhood of the Fetus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fetus is not a person until live birth, because of …. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Legal precedent: “The unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense.” (XP, p. 37) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>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) </li></ul></ul></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>Church: We don’t know if fetus is a person. </li></ul><ul><li>Court: We don’t know if fetus is a person. </li></ul>Therefore, we shall assume it is. Therefore, we shall assume it ’s not.
    4. 4. What would you like to discuss in class about what the Church means by an indirect abortion? And what are your reactions to the first two pages of the bishop’s response in the Phoenix case? vt
    5. 5. <ul><li>become familiar with the Principle of Double Effect and how it justifies a class of abortions as indirect ones. </li></ul><ul><li>We will test our intuitions by looking at some analogous cases of direct vs. indirect taking of life. </li></ul>
    6. 6. <ul><li>I. Direct vs. Indirect Killing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Analogy: </li></ul></ul><ul><li>II. Therapeutic Abortion: The Conflict of Life with Life </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A. The Principle of Double Effect (XP, p. 41) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>B. Abortion Cases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1. Cancerous uterus </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2. Ectopic pregnancy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>3. Heart/Kidney Problems </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>4. Obstructed Labor </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>III. Testing our intuitions with other examples </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A. Smith & Jones </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>B. The example of conjoined twins: Mary & Jodie </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>C. The Phoenix Hospital Case & Sr. Mary Margaret McBride </li></ul></ul>Plan for Today:
    7. 8. <ul><li>Is it permissible to kill A to save B if not doing so will result in the death of both A and B? </li></ul>Smith Jones