Yesterday I mentioned speaking at a secondary school about abortion, IVF and contraception. When speaking about abortion and danger to a mother’s life, I used the analogy of a mother and baby in a lifeboat. They have limited food and water and don’t know when they might be picked up. The right thing for the mother is not to throw the baby overboard in order to maximise her own chances of survival. Rather she should hold on, trust in Jesus and do everything to save both lives. I also spoke about the principle of DOUBLE EFFECT. Suppose an entopic pregnancy happens when the embryo lodges in the Fallopian tube rather than making the full journey down to the womb. In this case, the unborn baby cannot be saved. To save the mother, the diseased organ – the Fallopian tube – must be removed. The baby dies as an indirect and unintended result of the necessary life saving procedure on the mother. This is considered ethical and not a violation of “Thou shalt not kill.” A similar case arises when a cancerous uterus must be removed early in a pregnancy.
Unfortunately I ran out of time (70 minutes) discussing hard cases like rape/incest, poverty, unborn babies with life-limiting conditions, etc. I had about 3 minutes to discuss IVF and contraception. With regard to IVF, I said that a principal objection was that around 30 embryos are produced and only a few used. The others are discarded eventually. These embryos are human beings and have the same right to life as the rest of humanity. I said that most non-barrier forms of contraception – like Pills (even the ordinary/common version), coils/IUDs, hormonal implants, etc work some or all of the time after fertilisation and are thus forms of chemical abortion and are thus direct violations of “Thou shalt not kill.”
This is the gospel reflection from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ website.
Gospel Reflection Friday, Fifth Week of Easter John 15:12-17
There is something reassuring in what Jesus says in this evening’s gospel reading to his disciples, and to us, ‘You did not choose me, no, I chose you’. The Lord has chosen each one of us; he is the good shepherd who calls his own by name. His choice of us is prior to our choice of him; his personal call to each one of us comes before our response. In the same gospel reading Jesus says, ‘I call you friends’. Friendship happens when two people choose each other. Very often one of the two people initiates the choosing, initiates the friendship. Jesus tells us in the gospel reading that he has chosen us as his friends first; our choosing of him is response to his choosing of us. We have been graced by the Lord’s choice of us, the Lord’s gift of friendship to us, and we respond out of that grace. There are times in our lives when we just need to allow ourselves to experience that grace, to rejoice in his choice of us, to receive the gift of his friendship to us. Out of that receiving, we are empowered to respond, by choosing him as he has chosen us. According to Jesus in our gospel reading, choosing him entails befriending one another as he has befriended us, loving one another as he has loved us. That is his commandment to us, but the grace is always prior to the commandment.
The Gospel reflection comes from WEEKDAY REFLECTIONS: To know the love of Christ 2016/2017 by Martin Hogan published by The Messenger c/f www.messenger.ie
Gospel John 15:18-21
What I command you is to love one another.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘This is my commandment:
love one another,
as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me,
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last; and then the
Father will give you anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you is to love one another.’
The Gospel of the Lord.