Pray for life because abortion violates human dignity

Abortion violates human dignity, which is a pillar of modern Catholic social teaching. Therefore, we should pray for life. “[E]veryone must consider his every neighbor without exception as another self, taking into account first of all his life and the means necessary to living it with dignity ….” Gaudium et spes ¶ 27.

[W]hatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed.

Id. As innocent human persons, unborn children deserve our protection and solidarity. Yet modern culture offers them little of either. For this reason, we should pray for life.

Human dignity requires the protection of human life

In Evangelium vitae (EV), Saint Pope John Paul II lays out an extensive discourse on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. God loves every human. Jesus’s death and resurrection “shows how precious man is in God’s eyes and how priceless the value of his life.” EV ¶ 25. Since God made each person in his image, everyone is entitled to unconditional respect. Such “respect … is morally due to the human being in his or her totality and unity as body and spirit ….” EV ¶ 60. “Therefore every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the Church’s very heart ….” EV ¶ 3.

Abortion violates human dignity and freedom

Modern culture not only permits abortion. It sees abortion “as legitimate expressions of individual freedom ….” EV ¶ 18. But John Paul II notes that this “betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom ….” In fact, this is a “freedom of ‘the strong’ against the weak who have no choice but to submit.” EV ¶ 19. It “attribute[s] to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others.” EV ¶ 20.

Protection of human life is a preeminent matter of social justice

Protection of the unborn is part of the Church’s social teaching. Defending and promoting human life, especially the lives of the weak or threatened, “is not only a personal but a social concern …. [U]nconditional respect for human life [is] the foundation of a renewed society.” EV ¶ 77. The unborn child’s right to life arises because “every innocent human being is absolutely equal to all others. This equality is the basis of all authentic social relationships …. [E]very man and woman [is] a person and not … an object to be used.” EV ¶ 57.

Christ calls us “to become neighbors to everyone ….” And we are called “to show special favor to those who are poorest, most alone and most in need.” EV ¶ 87. John Paul II continues:

[Charity] cannot tolerate bias and discrimination, for human life is sacred and inviolable at every stage and in every situation; it is an indivisible good. We need then to “show care” for all life and for life of everyone. Indeed, at an even deeper level, we need to go to the very roots of life and love.

Id. “It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life ….” EV ¶ 101.

A civil law that permits abortion violates human dignity and is invalid

Civil law’s purpose “is to guarantee an ordered social coexistence in true justice ….” Therefore, it must protect “certain fundamental rights which innately belong to the person …. First and fundamental among these is the inviolable right to life of every innocent human being.” EV ¶ 71.

Even a democratic society is subject to moral law. Democracy, John Paul II says, “is a means and not an end. … Its morality depends on the morality of the ends which it pursues and of the means which it employs.” EV ¶ 70. “[T]he dignity of every human person” is a fundamental value. Likewise, society must “respect … inviolable and inalienable human rights.” The common good should be the criterion for political life. Id. In fact, “[d]isregard for the right to life … is what most directly conflicts with the possibility of achieving the common good. Consequently, a civil law authorizing abortion … ceases by that very fact to be a true, morally binding civil law.” EV ¶ 72.

Monday is a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

John Paul II says: “[A] great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. … Jesus himself has shown us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and foremost weapons against the forces of evil.” EV ¶ 100.

Monday, January 22, is a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. The U.S. bishops tell us that “[p]rayer is the foundation of all that we do in defense of human life.” Therefore, they ask us to ‘”say a short prayer or blessing. Meditate or ask God’s intercession. Devote some time to pray a Holy Hour, or commit to a novena or Stations of the Cross.”

Finally, our prayer should express compassion, not condemnation. As John Paul II reminds us: “Decisions that go against life sometimes arise from difficult or even tragic situations ….” These include “profound suffering, loneliness, a total lack of economic prospects, depression and anxiety about the future.” This may “mitigate even to a notable degree subjective responsibility and the consequent culpability” of those making such decisions. EV ¶ 18.