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Termination of pregnancy occurs for various reasons. When there are either maternal or fetal factors, which cause termination of pregnancy without human intervention, then it is referred to as “spontaneous abortion”. It can also result from trauma to the mother as a result of an accident, or due to other reasons. However, sometimes termination of pregnancy is due to human intervention because of the woman’s choice to abort by request or consent.

We now pose this question:

Is it a woman’s right to have an abortion?

Under normal circumstances, pregnancy, despite its pains, brings to the expecting mother joy, which is complete with the birth of her baby. Although a woman experiences labor pain, yet all is forgotten once she gives birth to a new human being. The question then is: Why would a mother refuse to carry full term and give birth? There must be reasons for this refusal. In our discussion about the reasons, let us bear in mind that the decision to have an abortion is very serious and has religious implications. This decision affects the life of a new hum, the fetus, regardless whether he is a few days (an embryo) or a few weeks. The Church believes that life begins at the moment of conception and the fetus is regarded as a living being who has the right to both life and dignity. How can a mother, a physician, or anyone agree to participate in ending the life of a living being by having an abortion? From the religious perspective, this can not be accepted unless the continuation of pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, and the only solution is “therapeutic abortion”. But we thank God, that as a result of medical advances, these cases are very rare now. Let us discuss the reasons that may force a woman or a family to consider abortion:

1. As a means of family planning:

Granted that family planning has become essential due to the economic and social hardships, yet abortion as a means of birth control is rejected religiously. Some Eastern European countries such as Russia and Romania have witnessed an increase in the number of abortions due to the economic hardships these countries face. As a result of repressive and atheist regimes for many years, the citizens of these countries have minimal or no religious background. Nowadays, the Church in these countries is actively trying to alert the people’s conscience and instill awareness in them to avert from abortion a means of solving some of their economic problems.

Couples may choose to use natural or artificial means of birth control. But despite the various contraceptive methods, none has been proven to be absolutely 100% effective; each has a failure rate. Therefore, a couple may find themselves facing a situation, which they are unprepared for economically. Also, their economic or social situation may not allow them to have a new child. What should they do? Unfortunately, some resort to abortion as a means of ending an undesirable pregnancy.

We must point to the seriousness of this gravely erroneous solution. From a Biblical and Christian perspective, abortion is an interruption of human life and therefore is considered murder. All the arguments made in our permissive and secularized society can not justify it. So, regardless of the circumstances of the mother, in particular, or the family, in general, resorting to abortion in order to solve a problem is wrong, even if is in the initial stages of pregnancy. It also indicates that this family lacks faith and confidence in God. So many families have faces a similar situation, but they accepted it with faith and trusted God; they regarded the new child as a gift from God and submitted to His will. Eventually, their circumstances got better and the new child, who was originally unwanted, became a source of joy and blessing for the entire family.

2.As a means of concealing sin:

Throughout history, women have used abortion to terminate unwanted pregnancies, especially when it is a young, unmarried woman, who may have sinned with a man and became pregnant. Out of fear that her act may be discovered, she might thing of having an abortion. Her family members and even her church friends and servants may approve of her decision and even encourage it.

We must understand that one of the basic rules in trying to live a spiritual life is not hide one sin by committing another one, even if the intentions are good and needs are compelling. Knowing the harsh circumstances the young woman will face and the ordeal she will go through makes her relatives and the church eager to help her. Yet, this does not justify resorting to abortion as a solution. There are other means of helping and caring for the unwed, pregnant women; we will not discuss them now since circumstances vary with each case. The one this thing that is an absolute certainty is: abortion is not a solution and should not be an option.

3. As a means of showing mercy towards an abnormal fetus:

Every family hopes for a child that will be fully healthy both physically and mentally. The birth of a child, which has a congenital disease or a physical or mental defect, is an ordeal that the family will have to cope with. To endure the situation, they need very strong and deep faith, as well as encouragement and support from others.

Nowadays, with all the medical advances, physicians can inform the mother if the fetus has congenital disease, a physical anomaly, or a mental defect. Still, medicine can not discover all cases of birth defects, and the certainty of what is revealed varies from one case to another. Obviously, these medical advances create a dilemma for some families. The foreknowledge that the expected child will certainly be born with a physical or mental defect accompanied by the fact that there is no cure, created a very difficult situation for the family. Should the family resort to abortion as an act of mercy towards the fetus, which will suffer, through no fault of his own, after his birth? How about mercy for the family members?! Indeed, it is an extremely difficult position.

To help such a family make a religiously sound and correct decision, let us imagine that they did not know of the baby’s birth defect before hand. Suddenly, they find themselves facing an innocent newborn with a physical anomaly or a mental defect. What then? Naturally, they will suffer with the baby, but they will do everything possible to care for their newborn infant. They might seek help from specialty treatment centers in an attempt to find a cure for the baby’s condition and to make his life comfortable. But will they resort to killing the newborn to relieve him and themselves of misery? We can not believe that anyone with an alert conscience and a spiritual background would agree to the idea of murder.

No one is justified in killing an innocent newborn because of a birth defect, even if mercy and compassion are the reasons behind it. If we agree on this principle, then we can move on to the next question, which is: Do we believe that a fetus is a human life? Also, do we believe that our foreknowledge of a physical or mental genetic malformation, which will result in a birth defect, does not change the fact that the fetus is a living being? The Voice of God within us says, “If we agree on abortion we are not absolved.”

4. As a woman’s right to choose:

In our society, the “Pro-Choice” groups, which are mainly part of the feminist movement, call for a woman’s right to have an abortion based on their belief that it is woman’s right to continue with pregnancy or terminate it. On the other hand, the “Pro-Life” groups refuse abortion based on the right of life of the unborn.

From a religious standpoint, we can not agree that one human being’s freedom can be based on denying another human beings his rights. We can not agree on a woman’s right to choose at the expense of denying life to another human being, i.e. the fetus in her womb. There are limits to our actions towards our body and our organs. These limits are even more when another living being is involved!Therefore, in this case, a woman’s freedom of choice should be prior to conception and not after. A woman has the right to marry or not marry. Even after marriage, she has a certain degree of freedom to choose to become pregnant or not. Freedom of choice is prior to conception and not after.


Posted by Fr. Moses Samaan

April 9, 2009