Life advocates are seen near the U.S. Supreme Court on December 1, 2021, the day judges heard oral arguments in a case involving a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation. (SNC Photo/Tyler Orsburn)
It would take the best crystal ball on the market to predict the Supreme Court’s decision in the Mississippi abortion case, yet the court rules, if it only decides to “narrowly” change its Roe vs. Wade decision nearly 50 years ago, many Americans who value the sanctity of life will be upset. If it completely reverses deermany Americans who want abortion to be available on demand will be unhappy.
“Unhappy” and “unhappy” can be an understatement.
Spirits will rise. Perhaps the only certain prediction is that the debate will continue regarding the right of unborn life to exist without being deliberately interrupted. Those who, with the teaching of the Catholic Church, regard unborn life as the life of a human being, with all the dignity and rights that go with that status, will have to explain and defend their position.
They will have to deal with very strong winds of cultural opinion, as they will have to express their beliefs in an environment where traditional morality, in many manifestations, is forgotten, ignored or criticized. Everything, everything is fine today.
Recently, a television sports news reporter interviewed a Catholic high school senior who is hailed as the best school basketball player in his state. The reporter asked the young man who would be next in his life.
The Catholic High School star didn’t say it would be college, the military or learning the family business. God knows he didn’t say he was thinking about seminary. He said that in a few days he would be 18, in June he would graduate, just like his girlfriend, then they would get a job, move into the same apartment and start their adult lives. Marriage? Who knows? Maybe one day. Maybe not. Children? May be.
He completes 12 years of Catholic education, during which he surely heard Catholic moral teaching. As the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but….”
In another newscast, the wedding of a popular entertainer, his Catholic origin was reported. His wife also has Catholic origins. Their two young sons were ring bearers. The journalist was not at all surprised.
Cohabitation is a way of life, just like easy divorce. No one questions artificial birth control, and many Catholics find the Church’s doctrine on the issue embarrassing at best, absurd at worst.
Euthanasia is approaching, there is no doubt about it.
Abortion and legal access to it have their own serious implications to consider, but, overall, the discussion of the moral property of abortion on demand is weighed down by the attitude of more increasingly widespread in America, and throughout Western civilization, that something is immoral only if and to the extent that an individual regards it as bad for himself.
Personal judgment is essential to any assessment of morality, but it is also vital to recognize the fact that each of us is limited in wisdom and prudence – a somewhat disturbing thought until associated with realizing that God, through Christ, echoed in the teachings of the Church, showed us the best way.
The bottom line is that this cultural atmosphere exaggerated individual human decision-making and consequent righteousness of action, setting aside the reality of a Supreme Being and, therefore, obviously, any revelation coming from a To be supreme.
When arguments about abortion arise, think about what abortion is. Ask yourself why Catholic teaching celebrates the sanctity of marriage and the values that are integral to it, such as lifelong commitment and fidelity. Bravely and cautiously, note the sociological and psychological facts indicating that cohabitation is not necessarily as productive and fulfilling as some assume. Study the rationality behind Catholic doctrine on artificial contraception.
Remember what Pope Saint Paul VI predicted two generations ago, that by ignoring God and the revelation of God spoken by the Church, mankind would reap the storm. Intelligent man.
Msgr. Owen F. Campion is the OSV chaplain.