“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,” the Catechism of the Church reminds the world
An anti-abortion protester blows a shofar outside the United States Supreme Court on May 5 in Washington, DC. (Photo: AFP)
While abortion in North America and Europe is fundamentally a politically driven legal issue – “My body, my choice” – it is quite different in Asia. In Asia, abortion is part of population control and widespread poverty.
Some 17 of the 50 countries and territories in Asia, including Cambodia, China, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Singapore, Vietnam and other East Asian countries, allow abortion without restriction. In 1971, India legalized abortion for women during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. This means, among other things, that the majority of women in Asia live under liberal abortion laws, with China and India being the two most populous nations in the region.
Abortion is only legally permitted in three Asian countries: the Philippines, Iraq and Laos.
The Philippines, being a predominantly Catholic nation, is a whole different story. The World Health Organization estimates that, despite legal restrictions, there are 500,000 illegal abortions performed in the Philippines and 80,000 women hospitalized due to abortion-related complications each year.
About four out of five abortions were performed for economic reasons, often when a woman already has several children. There are doctors who secretly perform abortions in clinics for a fee of 100 US dollars, more or less, but such an amount is too high for ordinary citizens. For this reason, most women purchase herbal and chemical abortifacients from convenience stores, bakeries, and vendors around the Quiapo church, according to Carlos H. Conde in his 2005 article titled “Crisis of Abortion in the Philippines”, published in The New York Times. Conde is a senior researcher in the Asia division of Human Rights Watch covering the Philippines.
In the United States, abortion remains a raging debate among citizens amid an endless legal battle in the Supreme Court.
The abortion debate is so vast that the leak of the initial draft itself, unprecedented in the recent history of the Court, provoked enormous reactions
The Roe v. Wade of the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973. Today, the same court appears set to overturn that landmark decision, according to an initial draft court opinion obtained by Politico and posted online on May 2. may.
The abortion debate is so huge that the leak of the initial draft itself, unprecedented in recent court history, has provoked a tremendous reaction. Chief Justice John Roberts said the leaked document was a “singular and flagrant breach of that trust which is an affront to the court”.
Public reactions on social media were immediate. The Supreme Court, located in Washington, DC, also known as “The Marble Palace”, went into barricade minutes after the leak was posted online. As students from the Catholic University of America prayed the Rosary near the site, pro-abortion groups began gathering to protest.
The draft opinion, written by Judge Samuel Alito, said Roe was “demonstrably wrong all along” and that “Roe and Casey must be quashed.” Casey v. Planned Parenthood is the 1992 SC decision that upheld Roe.
Enter US President Joe Biden, a Catholic, who has defended abortion throughout his political career, a position contrary to Catholic doctrine and morals. His reaction to the leaked opinion was fast and furious, saying that no religion can claim to know when human life begins.
A Divisive Agenda at the Heart of American Politics, Roe v. Wade has polarized the American people since 1973 and his overthrow is likely to spark global pro-abortion activism. For Americans (and other Westerners), it seems that abortion and women’s abortion rights have become a political fight between conservative and progressive justices on the Supreme Court or between Republicans and Democrats.
We recall that the legalization of abortion in many countries came through the democratic process.
Seemingly claiming that the Church is antiquated like an analog watch in the digital age, society has reintroduced the old Roman idea of ”democratism” and advocated the policy of Vox Populi vox dei, which means that everything must be voted on by a majority and that, in their common opinion, the Church should learn to do what is popular (or what the people like). What people think can be useful, and in a democratic society a survey of the most popular inclination is good.
But the teachings of Jesus are neither validated by what is popular nor transmitted from generation to generation by democratic majority vote. Catholic faith and morals, such as the dignity of human life from conception, are revealed by God and not something heard on the vine, and certainly not dictated by majority opinion.
“The voice of the people is the voice of God” or Vox Populi vox dei may seem revolutionary when used in the Catholic context. But that could only make a “windsock” of the Church blowing with the prevailing breeze, sadly confusing the truth with the majority opinion – here I am paraphrasing Senator Jasper Irving’s monologue in the drama from 2007 Lions for lambs.
“From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among them the inviolable right of every innocent being to life”
Even though more and more Asians are “totally on board” with legalizing abortion, this profound change in attitude cannot change the evil that is abortion. Evil cannot become good simply because it is accepted by the majority.
Abortion is evil even when only the Vatican is the only state that has none and even when the Holy Father, Catholic clergy, consecrated persons and certain faithful sons and daughters of the Church are the only ones standing to defend the dignity of life from conception.
“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds the world and all citizens of the world. “From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among them the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”
In its fundamental essence, abortion is a “horrific crime” and a “very grave sin”, Pope Francis reiterated the centuries-old Catholic position in 2016. It is so horrific and serious that in 1588, Pope Sixtus V imposed the penalty of excommunication or automatic expulsion to abortion and canon law assigned that only bishops can grant pardon for such a heinous crime and remove the penalty of excommunication.
Due to the increase in abortion cases, Pope Francis, at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy in 2015, amended canon law and granted a permanent faculty to priests to forgive abortion in the sacrament of reconciliation. . A woman who had an abortion “cries for years without having the courage to go to see a priest… Do you have any idea of the number of people who can finally breathe? asked the Holy Father, adding how important it is to find forgiveness from the Lord.
Was it Soviet political leader Joseph Stalin, who ruled the Soviet Union from 1922 until his death in 1953, who said that “one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic”? Well, abortions in the United States are estimated at 50 million tragedies since Roe v. Wade from 1973 to 2020. At its peak in the 1980s, 30 out of 1,000 American women of childbearing age (15 to 44) legally obtained abortions in which abortion doctors were paid for by public tax.
And a million more deaths according to the statistics of babies killed outside the United States each year.
* Jose Mario Bautista Maximiano is the author of ‘The Signs of the Times and the Social Doctrine of the Church’ (Salesiana, 1992) and ‘Human Life is Beautiful: Catholic Teaching on Abortion’ (St. Paul’s , 1993). The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.