Fr. Hardless is misleading about the Church and abortion
Stabroek News
December 17, 2001

Dear Editor,

As a Guyanese Catholic living in Canada, I can understand Fr. Hardless' decision [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] not to serve on the Abortion Board (Stabreok News, Dec. 12, 01). I also share his view that life is sacred.

However, I take exception to his misrepresentation of the Church's position on abortion. His claim that "It is quite clear by now to all that abortion is forbidden by the Catholic Church" is incorrect and misleading. It may be a view popularized by the Pope but it is not the authentic teaching.

Fr. Hardless would have us believe that the Church has one teaching on abortion and that it has always had that same teaching for 2000 years. Neither is true. Among leading Catholic theologians there are different views on abortion. Fr. Hardless merely represents one of those views not the only one. This plurality of views has always been the history of abortion in the Church.

Indeed, there are some authorities who contend that the traditional Catholic teaching on abortion would represent today's pro choice views.

Fr. Hardless' view is based on the notion that a human person is created at the so called moment of conception. This is called "immediate hominization."

St. Thomas Aquinas (C5th) and St. Agustine (C13th) disputed that view and argued for "delayed hominzation." They contended that a human person could only be created much later in pregnancy, when a soul entered the body.

Since a soul can only enter a fully formed body, this would take place early in the third trimester when the nervous system is developed and integrated with the brain. The Council of Trent (C16th) supported delayed hominization. Ending a pregnancy before hominization was not at issue.

Since at least two thirds of all fertilized eggs are discarded, the view that a human being exists at the moment of conception would have the unthinkable inconvenience of requiring the baptism of the products of many, many menstrual periods. That view would make nature a greater butcher of "tiny babies" than any "abortion industry."

There are good reasons for Catholic leaders to respond to Minister Ramsammy's invitation. I hope that some outstanding female Catholic makes a public offer to join the Board. It is time for Catholic women to step up and make their voices heard. After all, Fr. Hardless is hardly likely to be an expert on pregnancy.

Yours faithfully,

Sheila Massiah