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Reflections on Ethics 105
The real crime against humanity.

by: John Tyrrell

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Traditionally, the archbishop of Boston has given the benediction at Boston College commencement. This year the commencement speaker is Ireland's Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny and as a result Cardinal Sean O’Malley has made a point of refusing to attend and sanctify the event with his benediction.

Why? Because Kenny has introduced a law to clarify Ireland's law on abortion, prompted by the preventable death of Savita Halappanavar - a 28 year old woman who died after being denied an abortion of a non-viable fetus. The law was being amended to permit abortions to save the woman's life

O'Malley stated his church's position on abortion is that it is "a crime against humanity."

Meanwhile in El Salvador, a 22 year old mother of a one year old son is appealing to the Supreme Court to allow her to have an abortion to save her life. Her fetus has been diagnosed with anencephaly, which means parts of the brain and skull are missing. If carried to term, it will not survive. The young woman's own medical condition meant she suffered severe life-threatening complications with the birth of her first child, and the same conditions apply if this fetus goes to term. Without an abortion, she has an extremely high risk of death - all for the sake of a deformed fetus.*

And who is leading the fight against an abortion for this young woman. None other than El Salvador's Catholic Church. Because abortion is "a crime against humanity."

What is the real crime against humanity? It is the callous indifference for the lives of young women. The absolutist position on abortion which values non-viable fetuses over the lives of women is profoundly immoral.

I think there are areas where there are grounds for legitimate debate on the issue of abortion and where to draw the line. But in the case of Savita Halappanavar in Ireland, in the case of Beatriz in El Salvador - in neither case is there any room for debate. You cannot call yourself pro-life and still say they should die for an absolutist principle invented by celibate old men. To deny these women life - that's a real crime. To oppose their continued lives - that's morally degenerate. The unnecessary death of women who could be saved - it's a real crime against humanity.



* And it is probably the Catholic church's position on birth control that is responsible for this woman to becoming pregnant again so soon after the high-risk birth of her first child.

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