Abortion is evil because it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human life . . .
Abortion is always considered evil, sinful and immoral because it is the deliberate and intentional killing of an innocent human life.
The Catechism teaches, “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” (#2271).
The ends can never justify the means, so no evil act should ever be done deliberately, willingly and knowingly, no matter how much good may come from it or how much evil may be prevented. If you make one exception and allow any evil to be done for whatever lofty reason, then anyone can find sufficient reason to commit almost any evil in the name of higher good or the prevention of greater evi1. If murdering one man would save a hundred, then using the same moral logic, someone could murder a million to save a billion.
Since it is not morally permissible to directly will or perform evil, abortion is never permitted — even to save the life of the mother or in response to rape or incest. Medically, there are few, if any, instances where a physician would even be in the situation where killing the unborn child would be the only and safest way to save the mother. If the mother is in danger, so is the child.
Rather than directly killing the unborn child, doctors can do what is necessary to treat the mother. If in the course of the treatment her own body causes a premature ejection of the fetus, then that is considered a natural abortion in that it was not directly intended. Once the baby is out of the womb, everything possible must be done to assist him or her. If the baby dies, it is morally acceptable because it was a natural death. The baby may not be viable outside the womb for too long, but a natural death is preferred to the violent, intentional killing of an innocent life.
This column is reprinted with permission from “The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions” by Rev. John Trigilio Jr. and Rev. Kenneth D. Brighenti (Sourcebooks, 2007).