Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend the Connecticut March for Life in Hartford. The march, which was preceded by a rally outside of the state capitol building, aimed to raise awareness and garner legislative support for the pro-life cause. I attended with a small group from the Students for Life Cub which has attended the march in the past. 

The turnout for the event was estimated at just under two thousand, which was enough to cover most of the capitol lawn. The crowd was made up of many different types of people including families, elderly individuals, students, a handful of nuns and many priests. 

There was a very high concentration of Catholics at the march, which should be of no surprise. After all, paragraph 2271 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church reads, “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.” It is a moral duty for Catholics to adhere to such a definitive teaching of the church and defend the lives of those who have yet to be born. 

This year’s march was especially significant as it came in the wake of a proposal to enshrine access to abortion as a right in Connecticut’s state constitution. The proposal has only been through a single public hearing so far, but additional hearings are sure to follow. For the proposed amendment to be enshrined in the constitution, it will require the votes of three-fourths of the Connecticut House of Representatives and Senate and majority support by the voting public. Democrats, who generally support abortion, currently hold about a two-thirds majority across both chambers of the General Assembly. The approval of this proposed amendment currently seems unlikely, but nothing is impossible which is why the pro-life cause, especially in a state such as Connecticut, must make themselves known to the public and the legislator.
The pro-life movement has had some success in recent years. Most notably with the Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson case which overturned Roe v. Wade. This decision essentially shifted the power to create laws regarding abortion from the federal to state level. Sadly, and despite this ruling, the number of abortions in the United States in 2023 eclipsed one million according to the Guttmacher Institute. Pew Research found that 53% of American adults believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. This percentage jumps to 55% amongst Muslims, 60% amongst Mainline Protestants, and 83% amongst Jewish people. Perhaps most surprising of all is that nearly half, 48%, of American Catholics share this view. 

This statistic is very concerning and prompts the question: How can one claim to be Catholic yet openly and unabashedly support abortion? 

Simply put, one cannot. The Code of Canon Law states that an individual who obtains an abortion suffers immediate excommunication (Can. 1397). In no world can a Catholic support a practice so morally impermissible. Pope St. John Paul II, in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, makes the moral gravity of an abortion absolutely clear. He writes, “I declare that direct abortion … always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium” (62). While this declaration by the Pope was not Ex Cathedra in nature, it still rises to the level of a teaching that must be obeyed by the faithful, especially considering its presence in the universal magisterium. Both the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium and the Code of Canon Law in Canons 750-754 teach that Catholics must assent to the teachings of the Pope and universal magisterium on issues of faith and morals. As shown by the above teachings of the Church, a catholic must not, and cannot, support the practice of abortion. 

Despite this, it is permissible, and even understandable, for a Catholic to struggle with the Church’s teachings regarding abortion. I can almost guarantee that the majority of Catholics have at least one church teaching they struggle to fully embrace. One may be a Catholic who struggles with the Church’s teaching on birth control, Communism, homosexuality or abortion but still submits to said teaching out of their duty to obey the Church which is the “pillar and bulwark of the truth.”

Abortion is a very delicate issue to discuss, particularly when attempting to sway another individual, or even your own opinion on the matter. Often, those who are pro-choice take the stance they do from a position of perceived compassion, desire to fight for freedom or to protect those who are victims of horrendous circumstances. This is crucial to remember as many will write off those who support abortion as evil, baby haters, or wicked. While I do believe the pro-life position to be morally abhorrent, it is subscribed to by many well-meaning people who I would probably enjoy interacting with. Those same individuals would most likely hold a very similar view of my position on abortion. 

To best engage a pro-choice individual on the issue, I believe the pro-life individual should ask the question: What is being terminated in the woman’s womb? If the person answers, in any number of ways, that a human life is being terminated, then the bridge to being anti abortion may not be a terribly difficult one to cross. It may be as simple as showing the pro-choice individual the immense value that human life holds as a unique member of mankind. If, however, the person answers along the lines of “a clump of cells,” “some tissue,” “not a human,” etc. then there is a much higher hill to climb. They would first need to be convinced that at the moment of conception, a human life has been created. That life may be at a very early, or the earliest, stage of development, but are nonetheless fully human and should be treated with full dignity in the same way you or I ought to be treated. The absence of fully developed organs, the ability to survive independently or consciousness does not rob a child in the womb of their personhood. If this were the case, then those with certain physical disabilities, young children or individuals in comas must also be stripped of their status as a human being. 

Ultimately, this article is merely a grain of sand in the desert of writings regarding the topic of abortion. While I hope to see a day in which America’s culture embraces an anti abortion position, I understand that society is not trending in that direction, and it may take quite a while for the pendulum to swing in the pro-life direction. Regardless, I still believe there is value in voicing the pro-life message and making it known to the public through articles like this or public demonstrations such as the March for Life. 

Finally, while I am firm in my position on abortion due to moral and religious reasons, I am willing to be corrected on any mistakes I may have made in this article regarding my interpretation or presentation of church documents and teaching. 

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