Thursday, March 5, 2009

the right to life

the roman catholic church in brazil recently argued that a 9-year old brazilian girl who had been raped by her step-father and was pregnant with twins should have carried the pregnancy to term even though her life was in great danger and the fetuses had very little chance of survival.


  1. that's just plain sad.

  2. Sad, but is it not philosophically defensible?
    Start with: All life is sacred.
    Stipulate: Life begins at conception.
    Uphold: Defense of all life at all stages.
    Does it not put the Church in a position that they MUST make such an assertion? Their philosophy doesn't leave much (if any) room.

    Don't they have to assert that all efforts must be made to protect the life of the mother, AND the twins?

    Consider this: Both the 9-year old and the twins are blameless. Why should either die at our hands?

    I invite a discussion.

  3. i think it's interesting, christopher, that there has been no response to your invitation.

    it's such a terrible story, i think it's difficult to really know what to do with it.

    i would like to tell you that, although i might disagree with the church, in this instance i at least admire their commitment to their beliefs.

    but i don't know that such strict adherence to a principle is always healthy. are there not instances, extreme instances, where even the church has to step back and allow that there might be another way? a choice they might not like to make, but that is the lesser of the two evils?

    your final question (why should either die at our hands) supposes two things: first, an agreement to your earlier stipulation, that life begins at conception. this, it seems to me, has been the goal of the anti-abortion movement – to define the argument on their terms. if we can all agree on that principle, that life does begin at conception, then what justifies taking that life?

    second, does it not also supposes that if we make the choice of allowing the pregnancy to come to term, and the 9 year old not survive – somehow that death is not at our hands?

    i will say this: the government of brazil is consistent. brazil has not used the death penalty "since the proclamation of the Republic in 1889."

    also, there's a new time magazine article out today about this case, and the reaction to it.

  4. {heavy sigh} yeah, no takers on this one.

    The Church is in a difficult position on this one, having taken the position that life begins at conception. They are comfortable dealing in moral absolutes. So the first part of the argument (in their minds) is settled. They cannot be part of an administered death of a fetus. Period.

    Second, I suggest that The Church would argue that while abortion ensures the death of the fetus (fetuses? fetii?), carrying the children to term does not guarantee the death of the other child (the mother). Furthermore, so long as every effort was made to save the mother-child's life, even if she died anyway, one would be held blameless for that death.

    With regard to a certain amount of flexibility in making the moral choice...

    The Church can never choose evil, even the lesser of two.

  5. i would contend the church chooses evil all the time. it just chooses not to define it as such.

  6. Ouch. Foot - crushed - by - gauntlet.....


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