Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D



The 5th of God's Ten Commandments1 is "thou shalt not kill," and paragraph 2270 of the most recent catechism explains clearly how this applies to the matter of abortion:2

Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

That the unborn are fully human is shown in Sacred Scripture in various places, such as:

Jeremias 1:5
Before I formed thee in the bowels of thy mother, I knew thee: and before thou camest forth out of the womb..

Isaias 49:1
The Lord hath called me from the womb, from the bowels of my mother He hath been mindful of my name.

Psalm 70: 63
By Thee have I been confirmed from the womb: from my mother's womb Thou art my protector.

The story of St. John the Baptist's birth (Luke 1:5-15; 41-42) reveals that unborn babies can even be eternally saved -- "he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb" -- and the Church's teachings about the immaculate beginnings of the Blessed Virgin show that this is so even from the very moment of conception.

The oldest existing version of the Hippocratic Oath, which was originally written ca. A.D. 275, includes these words --

I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment, and I will do no harm or injustice to them.Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art.

-- and, the even older, 1st. century Didache -- considered the very first Christian catechism --  includes these:

You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal,  you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten.

For millennia, the West knew that abortion is wrong. But this Truth got left behind in the 1970s, when feminists and Big Business pushed women to get "careers" (which, for most women, means simply "jobs").

Still though, abortion is wrong. But some just don't agree. Below are rebuttals to their arguments:

Abortion bans endanger women's healthcare

How? Things like ectopic pregnancies were adequately dealt with when abortion was illegal -- without directly willing the death of babies. In what ways would women's healthcare be "endangered"? Over a thousand obstetricians and gynecologists have signed the Dublin Declaration on Maternal Health Care, which reads,

As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion – the purposeful destruction of the unborn child – is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.

We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion, and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child.

We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women.4

Abortion bans deny bodily autonomy

There are all sorts of things we're not allowed to do with our bodies -- e.g., we're not allowed to commit other sorts of homicide, arson, theft, burglary, and rape; we're not allowed to loiter or to defecate in the streets; we're not allowed to use illegal drugs or to commit suicide, etc. Murdering babies is one of those things we can't morally do, and isn't it pretty intuitively so?

But abortion affects only women!

Abortion affects not only women, but the babies murdered, the fathers, grandparents, siblings and other family members of those babies, and the societies into which those babies were to have been born. It's not a mere private and personal matter; it's a familial one, and a social one in which the State has a vested interest. (Besides, men have to register for Selective Service; I don't hear women crying about "bodily autonomy" or the rights of men when it comes to the draft.)

Abortion bans make poor women poorer

Do you think that children's value depends on the wealth of their parents? Are you willing to slaughter all of the poor and  hungry of the world - or just the very young among them? If a woman gives birth to a child she can't afford to raise, she can allow someone to adopt the baby.

A ban on abortion would hold women back and undo all the strides they've made in the workplace!

Pregnant women work all the time, and if a woman doesn't want or can't afford a child after it's born, she can allow someone else to adopt it. Besides, are women in a contest with men or something?

But who are you to tell others what to do? Who am I to tell others what to do? I don't even like abortion; I wouldn't have one myself, but think others should have the choice!

What other sorts of murder would you say that about? During the Shoah, would you have said that it's OK for a Nazi to kill a Jew, but it's just not to your personal taste? Are you OK with people breaking homicide laws now even though you wouldn't do it yourself? Besides, it's not a matter of you "telling others what to do"; it's a matter of honoring natural law.

It's just a fetus, not a baby

"Fetus" is Latin for "offspring," not "meaningless and inhuman clump of cells." "Fetus" (and "embryo") are simply words we use to describe a stage of life, just as we use "toddler" to describe very young children, "kids" to describe the young, "teenager" to describe another age, "elder" or "senior" to describe the old, etc. "Fetus" and "embryo" accurately used to describe someone don't make the person so described less human or less a person.

But it's just a clump of cells

If a fetus fits the definition of "just a clump of cells," what prevents you from fitting that same definition? The fetus is alive (it undergoes biological processes such as growth, metabolism, cell division, etc.); it has its own DNA; it is human (it's not a giraffe, sloth, or orchid). It is, therefore, a living, individuated human being. The baby is not the mother, and is not the father, but has genes combined from both -- a combining of 23 sets of two chromosomes that has a one in 8,324,608 chance of coming together the way it did. And each of those chromosomes carries up to thousands of different genes such that that particular, individual new baby has a one in over 70 trillion chance of being genetically who he is. 96% of 5,577 biologists from over a thousand academic institutions in 86 different countries affirm that human life begins at fertilization. 5 Do you "trust the science" or not?

Who are you to kill that baby or to condone others killing it? So many who speak so easily about abortion wouldn't dream of stomping on sea turtle eggs, tossing robin eggs out of their nests, squashing baby goats underfoot, or ripping unborn dolphins apart. They'd be horrified at a mother cat who ate her living kittens as they were being born. But they're nonchalant about killing human babies.

Finally, are you 100% certain that what you're calling a "clump of cells" isn't a living, individuated human being? If you're not, shouldn't you err on the side of caution? Would you fire a shotgun into a bush hoping to shoot a deer when you think there's a possibility that the rustling you heard was a hunter -- a fellow human being -- and not a deer?

But some women don't want to be pregnant!

Then they shouldn't have invited children into their wombs by having sex.

But some babies aren't "invited"; some come about because of rape and incest

Do you disagree with the principle stated in Deuteronomy 24:16 -- that "fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children for the fathers"? If not, for what other parental crimes should their children pay?

Violence against an innocent human being isn't the solution for past violence. It's a basic principle of moral thinking that one can't do an evil to bring about a good, that good ends don't justify evil means.

Further, of aborting women surveyed by the Guttmacher Institute, "1% indicated that they had been victims of rape, and less than half a percent said they became pregnant as a result of incest." 6 Would you be willing to outlaw the 99% of abortions that are not sought because of rape or incest?

In 99% of abortions, the women who aborted willingly engaged in the act that invites pregnancy. That's what sex is. That's its biological purpose. That's what it does. And that's why it should be taken seriously and kept inside marriage.

But lots of women who have sex aren't "inviting babies into their wombs"; they're just trying to have sex!

That's rather like saying "women who plunge to their deaths after jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge don't want to die; they just want to feel the rush of falling." As said, procreation is the very biological purpose of sex. Babies are what sex is designed to make.

But some women do all they can to prevent getting pregnant, but still get pregnant!

That's why one shouldn't rely on contraception -- which seems to invite promiscuity by making people think they're safe from the consequences of sex when they're really not. Ever hear of the Peltzman Effect? When safety measures are implemented, people's perception of risk decreases, and so they make riskier decisions. The Peltzman Effect played out clearly during the AIDS crisis in Thailand:

In the late 1980s, Thailand and the Philippines had roughly the same number of HIV/ AIDS cases at 112 and 135 cases, respectively. In the early 1990s, the government of Thailand enforced the 100% Condom Use program in its booming commercial sex industry while the Philippines was characterized by its very low rate of condom use and the firm opposition of church and government to condoms, among other forms of contraception. In 2003, almost fifteen years later, the number of HIV/ AIDS cases in Thailand had risen to 750,000 while the number in the Philippines remained low at 1,935 cases as the latter’s population grew to more than 30 per cent that of Thailand. 7

Half of all abortion seekers in a 1987 study were practicing contraception during the month in which they conceived.8 The point: don't think contraception will stop unwanted pregnancies.

Finally, getting pregnant isn't -- and shouldn't be treated as -- a "punishment" for having sex; it's a natural consequence of having sex. It's not a matter of "you were a good girl and used protection, so you deserve to get to kill a baby!"; it's a matter of "you had sex, and, so, a baby happened in spite of your 'precautions'." Besides, contraception is against Catholic teaching, so no educated Catholic pro-life person would think of using contraception as a great move worthy of a reward -- let alone the "reward" of infanticide.

And to those who think pro-life people want to use pregnancy to "punish" women who have sex, consider that no one has ever pushed the idea of throwing into prison unmarried pregnant women who have miscarriages, as if their "punishment" hasn't been served by nine months of pregnancy, so some other "punishment" must be substituted.

But it doesn't make sense to be worried about a fetus before it's viable

"Viable: capable of surviving or living successfully." Babies of any age are "viable" if not murdered.

If by "viable," you mean "able to live without the help of others," then that includes babies who are born, toddlers, some of the sick and disabled, people in comas, anyone intubated on an operating table, etc. Do you want to deny all of them human rights, too?

You either deny the existence of the soul and/or the inherent dignity of human life, or you affirm that the soul and/or dignity attach to the baby at some point. If you believe that humans have souls and/or that human life has a dignity above that of other animals, when does this ensoulment and/or acquiring of dignity take place? Is the vagina magic such that passing through it confers a soul and/or human dignity? And if you're not sure when this human dignity attaches to a human being, shouldn't you err on the side of caution? For ex., if you're out hunting deer and hear a rustling in the bushes, would you start shooting before you've actually seen the deer when know that the rustling you heard could be another hunter?

"Viability" in the sense of "able to live without the help of others" also depends on technology: a 24-week old baby born in Burundi won't be able to survive as easily as a 24-week old in the United States. Do you think that the ability to afford technology should affect the level of respect and care we should at least want to give to human beings? Do you think the law should treat the poor and rich differently in terms of their rights? Do the babies of Burundi have the same human dignity and personhood as the babies of the West?

"Viability" in that sense also depends on timing, on one's place in history. A baby born at 24 weeks in 1888 would have a smaller chance of survival than one born at the same age in 2022. Should the baby born in 1888 have been treated as having fewer rights than the child born later?

And here's a question for you: if pro-lifers are wrong about abortion, the worst possible outcome is that more human beings are born. If pro-abortion types are wrong about abortion, the worst possible outcome is that there's been an ongoing genocide -- 42 million people a year worldwide -- for decades, a genocide that makes the Holocaust pale in comparison. Are you so sure about when life begins that you're willing to even risk furthering the cause of genocide?

But young fetuses aren't even conscious

First, how do you know?

Second, even if they aren't, neither are you when you're asleep, and neither are those in comas. Are you fair game when you pass out at night?

Third, it's been shown that babies can feel pain in the womb at least as early as eight weeks9, that they appear to dream10, and that they can recognize faces.11
Don't underestimate the unborn.

But what if the fetus is deformed or has Down Syndrome or --- ?

Do you think we should kill all people with deformities or intellectual challenges -- or just the young ones? Should we display them in circuses first, maybe make a little money off of them? What other classes of people should we be able to kill? Is there a certain race or ethnic group you're fine with murdering or is it just unborn babies?

But what about ectopic pregnancies?

Ectopic pregnancies -- when the fetus develops outside the womb -- were always treated medically long before Roe v. Wade. Unfortunately, all such medical treatments results in the death of the baby, but those deaths are not desired; they are not willed.

But Thomas Aquinas says it was OK!

No, St. Thomas Aquinas did not condone abortion. He did, though, get the timing of ensoulment wrong, but never at any time did he condone abortion. From the very begining of Christianity, as the 1st century Didache very clearly reveals, abortion was seen as an evil.

You're a man, so shut up

First, right and wrong don't depend on a speaker's identity. Play that game and there can be no right and wrong -- and no social order -- at all (and, hey, should women have no opinion about whether their country goes to war or not if those women aren't drafted?).

Second, a child results from the actions of a mother and a father, and fathers love their children, just as mothers do. Here, listen to this man speak about his aborted daughter:

Men are affected by abortion, too, just as women are, and are legally bound in most of the West to financially support, for almost two decades, children they bring about (and, often, even those they aren't responsible for bringing about).

But women have to deal with pregnancy and men don't. Men can have sex and just walk away!

Which is why God wants sex kept inside marriage and nowhere else.

But it's not fair!

Is it "unfair" that a woman can experience what it's like to nourish a child with her own body but a man can't? Is it "unfair" that cows get stomachs with four separate comparments while our stomachs have only one? Is it "unfair" that things get wet when it rains, that geese can fly, and that bees can make honey and we can't?

That men endure fewer direct physical consequences from sex is something you'll have to take up with God (the word "direct" is there because, as so many don't seem to realize or, at least, appreciate, men work for at least eighteen years to support their offspring). Or, if you're an atheist, take it up with "nature." There's no appeal to "fairness" when it comes to the way things simply are, and raging against basic biological facts makes no sense and will keep you miserable.

So you think people who aren't married shouldn't have sex. Really? Really? Never?

Yes, never. Put down the porn, work to acquire the cardinal virtues, behave and dress with dignity, develop a prayer life, avoid occasions of sin (situations in which you're likely to sin), de-saturate your mind from the overly-sexualized culture we find ourselves in, and master yourself. You're under a spell; wake up!

So the stereotypes are true: Catholics hate sex!

No, Catholics love sex; that's why the married among us tend to have large families (in fact, studies have shown that married Catholics have the best, most satisfying sex of all -- and more often, too12). Catholics just know, as all biologists do, that sex brings about babies. So Catholics know that sex needs to be taken very seriously. An analogy I use elsewhere on the site is this: sex is like fire. Fire's good; it cooks our food, warms us in the Winter, is beautiful, etc. But fire needs to be kept in its place: a fire in your fireplace is good; a fire on your roof isn't. It's the same with sex. Sex between a married couple is good; sex between two people who aren't married is not good.

earn why sex isn't just a private matter, but an extremely important social one: The Garbage Generation.

But we'll live in a "Handmaid's Tale" kind of world without abortion!

We didn't live in  a "Handmaid's Tale" kind of world before Roe v. Wade, did we?

If we don't have legal abortion, thousands of women will be dying in the alleyways from illegal abortions!

Not if they don't get illegal abortions. And don't believe the nonsense spread by the likes of Planned Parenthood -- the idea that many thousands of women died each year from "back alley" illegal abortions before abortion was made legal with Roe v. Wade. The year before Roe v. Wade was handed down, that is in 1972, 90 American women died from illegal abortions; the following year, that is in 1974, 54 died -- from legal abortions. In 1975, 49 died -- from legal abortions. (Note that before penicillin was made publicly available -- the first patient was treated with it in 1941 -- women did die from illegal abortions in relatively high numbers. 1,232 died from abortions in 1942, with the numbers dropping precipitously every year as penicillin came to be more and more widely prescribed. But they'd undoubtedly have died at the same rates before penicillin was introduced had their abortion been legal ones. And they almost certainly wouldn't have died at all if they'd carried their pregnancies to term and given up their babies for adoption.)

But where do we draw the line? Do we want government throwing women in jail for eating too many Big Macs or smoking or having a few alcoholic beverages while pregnant?

Now that is a serious question and a true concern! Let's reason about where those lines should be and shouldn't be -- without the hysteria (and, please, without the misandry). And let's remember that women weren't rousted like that before Roe v. Wade and the legalization of abortion in other places.

Look, if you don't like abortion, just don't get one!

"If you don't like slavery, just don't buy a slave." Does that logic really work?

But you're OK with the death penalty!

God's commandment is against the taking of innocent human life, not killing in itself, not self-defense, not fighting in a just war, not a civil society punishing the guilty, not killing animals for food while avoiding any unncessary suffering and while treating them with kindness while they live, etc.

And know that that "logic" could also be turned around on you: "you're against the death penalty for vicious torture-killers but are OK with killing babies?"

You Christians only care about babies before they're born; you don't care that they live in poverty after they're born!

First of all, whether we care or don't care about babies after they're born does not make their murder before they're born OK. Feelings are not what makes murder bad. Seriously, what kind of an argument is this: "In the future, you won't think about, feel about, or do for X kind of people the way I think you should, therefore, I should get to kill X kind of people now"?

Second, it's simply not the case that Christians don't care about babies after they're born. The religious are the most charitable people on earth. From Philanthropy Roundtable:13

Pew Research Center investigators examined the behavior of a large sample of the public across a typical seven-day period. They found that among Americans who attend services weekly and pray daily, 45 percent had done volunteer work during the previous week. Among all other Americans, only 27 percent had volunteered somewhere...

Seven out of ten weekly church attenders told Pew they consider “work to help the needy” an “essential part” of their faith. Most of them put their money and time where their mouth is: 65 percent of weekly church attenders [as opposed to 45% of other Americans] were found to have donated either volunteer hours or money or goods to the poor within the previous week....

Philanthropic studies show that people with a religious affiliation give away several times as much every year as other Americans. Research by the Lilly School at Indiana University found Americans with any religious affiliation made average annual charitable donations of $1,590, versus $695 for those with no religious affiliation.  Another report using data from the Panel Study for Income Dynamics juxtaposed Americans who do not attend religious services with those who attend worship at least twice a month, and made fine-tunings to compare demographic apples to apples. The results: $2,935 of annual charitable giving for the church attenders, versus $704 for the non-attenders...In addition to giving larger amounts, the religious give more often—making gifts about half again as frequently....

In study after study, religious practice is the behavioral variable with the strongest and most consistent association with generous giving. And people with religious motivations don’t give just to faith-based causes—they are also much likelier to give to secular causes than the nonreligious. Two thirds of people who worship at least twice a month give to secular causes, compared to less than half of non-attenders, and the average secular gift by a church attender is 20 percent bigger...

Religious Americans adopt children at two and a half times the overall national rate, and they play a particularly large role in fostering and adopting troubled and hard-to-place kids.

Some women just don't want to be mothers!

Of course. And some women shouldn't be mothers. But if a woman has a baby she's unwilling or unable to raise, she can let a loving couple adopt her offspring. Experts say that 2 million couples in the United States are waiting to adopt babies right now.

Facing the Reality of Abortion

So many people speak flippantly about abortion because they've never really, deeply thought about it, never had one, or never truly faced the results if they have. Those who've had an abortion typically laid themselves down on a sterile table, stared at the ceiling, had their bottom halves draped so they couldn't see anything, felt some pain, and then it was over but for a week or two of vaginal discharge. They hide the reality away in their minds. They distract themselves. They rest for a few days, and try not to think about it. They don't look at the results of what they've done: out of sight, out of mind. This story shows what happens when someone does look:14

Abby Johnson’s book The Walls Are Talking: Former Abortion Clinic Workers Tell Their Stories collects firsthand accounts from former abortion facility workers. The stories vary in theme, each one an abortion worker’s memory of an event that stuck with her after she left. One story, called “Frequent Flyers,” is about a young woman who had nine abortions.

The chapter’s author, who is unnamed, explains how women who came in for repeat abortions at her facility were called “frequent flyers” by the staff. Even though abortion facility workers were committed to promoting and providing abortions, some of them had judgmental feelings toward these “frequent flyers.” The abortion facility worker says:

When Angie walks through our doors for her ninth procedure, even those of us whose paychecks were funded by abortion shook our heads and said “Really? Seriously?”…

Although it went against my own ideology, I wanted Angie to show some indication of remorse. I didn’t want to feel that way about the numerous women who presented for abortions two, three, or even four times. But nine? That, I felt, deserved at least a slight show of regret or even a bit of good old-fashioned shame.

Angie showed no trace of guilt or any kind of distress when she came to the abortion facility. She had laughed through her first abortion, and every abortion since. It was not at all different when she came in for her ninth. The abortion facility worker described Angie’s demeanor:

[S]he seemed to regard her visits to our clinic as an opportunity to perform her improv comedy act. “Could y’all just xerox my chart and I’ll fill in the dates?” She would jest. Once the paperwork was in order, Angie would attempt to banter with the girls in the waiting room. “It’s no big thing,” she assured them. “I’ve done it 8 times before, and I have no regrets.” Although I couldn’t help but like Angie, her flippancy appalled me.

She showed no guilt or remorse of any kind:

Over the years, I had consoled and held the hands of scores of women who approached that same table with much trepidation. Some would weep, their knuckles white as they gripped my hand until it ached. Others would clutch Bibles to their chests and mouth prayers begging for forgiveness, even before the abortionist had begun his work and when their babies were still safe in their wombs. Many times women would climb onto the table and remain limp and unresponsive during the procedure. Mentally, they were a million miles away. And then there was Angie… Angie never even attempted to explain herself. When we would talk to her about birth control and try to set her up with an appointment to explore the matter further, she would just smile and politely refuse with a wave of her hand.

Angie was using abortion for birth control, not bothering to learn any other method. She may have gone on to have nine more abortions – but something happened.

Angie had no doubt heard pro-abortion rhetoric. She had certainly been told that abortion is only removing a ball of cells, a piece of tissue, or an undeveloped mass. But after her ninth abortion, she was curious and wanted to see the “tissue” for herself. She asked the abortion worker to show her the remains of the abortion, and the abortion worker complied. At 13 weeks, her baby was fully formed.

I debated about how to arrange the pieces. Would it be best to throw them all together in a clump so that none of the parts would be recognizable, or should I piece it back together as we normally did to ensure that none of the parts were missing. There was no protocol on such things, so in the end I opted to piece the parts back together.

Angie’s reaction was not what the abortion worker anticipated:

“Thanks,” she said, her trademark smile still fixed on her face. When her eyes traveled to the container, she gasped sharply, and for the first time since she had arrived, Angie was utterly silent. A few moments later her entire body shuddered and gooseflesh was raised on her smooth brown arms.

When she reached out her to touch the baby, I tried to pull the dish away. She grabbed my wrist and stopped me. We were both silent for a few moments as she continued to stare at the contents of the dish. I stepped back and Angie fell forward to her knees, her fingers still wrapped around my wrist. The other girls in the recovery run began to take notice, and my discomfort level rose exponentially.

Realizing her mistake, the abortion worker tried repeatedly to take the dish containing the bloody body parts away. But Angie held tight to the remains of her child, and wouldn’t let the abortion worker pry it from her hands. The abortion worker said:

[Angie] remained frozen on the clinic floor. “That’s a baby,” she said, barely audible at first. “That was my baby,” she said. Her volume steadily increased as a torrent of words poured from her mouth, words that made everyone extremely uncomfortable. “What did I do? What did I do?” she said over and over and began to sob. Some of the girls in the recovery run began to weep along with her. Some covered their faces with their arms or buried their heads in the arms of the recliners.

Finally, the abortion facility workers were able to tear away the dish. Angie became hysterical. Other abortion workers tried to calm her.

Fellow workers rushed to my side to calm Angie down. After a few minutes, it became obvious that she wasn’t going to calm down. We couldn’t even get her off the floor. After discussing it hastily, we decided to drag her to the bathroom. At least the heavy door would stifle her sobs to until we figured out what to do.

Angie flailed her arms and legs and her screams reached a fever pitch as we dragged her down the hall. We must have been quite a spectacle for the other girls in the recovery room. Finally we managed to place a still panicked Angie in the bathroom and closed the door. I suggested that she splash some cold water on her face and “pull herself together.” Her cries, although muffled, were easily distinguished through the door.

Angie began begging the abortion workers to take her mutilated baby home with her. She did not want to part with her child, even though her child was dead. She pleaded with the workers to give in and let her have the baby. They refused. She continued to sob and wail in the bathroom, disrupting the entire facility.

The abortion workers finally went to her paperwork and found her emergency contact – the number the facility was supposed to call in the event of a life-threatening complication. They dialed the number and got her current boyfriend. He arrived at the clinic. It took him 45 minutes to coax Angie out of the bathroom. They both left the abortion facility in tears.

Angie never came to the facility again. The writer of the story does not know what happened to her. The road ahead of her, once she realized her responsibility for the deaths of nine of her children, would be agonizing to travel. We can only hope she found healing.

From then on, the abortion facility had a strict rule never to show the aborted babies to women.

The abortion procedures:

If You've Had or Been Party to An Abortion in the Past

You have to truly, deeply face the reality of what you've done. If you find it emotionally difficult (some may, some may not), you have to grieve. During that process, you might benefit from seeking support from Project Rachel, a healing ministry for women who've had abortions.

Then you have to repent of it. And you have to trust that, when you do, you are forgiven. Truly and actually forgiven.

When the man we know as St. Paul is introduced to us in Sacred Scripture, he was Saul, a murderer. A killer of Christians. He was on his way to Damascus to capture the followers of Christ there, bind them up, and bring them to Jerusalem. But he was confronted by a great light from Heaven, and a voice that cried out, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" Knocked to the ground and blinded, he was taken the rest of the way to Damascus, where he spent his time in prayer. Meanwhile, the Lord went to a Christian named Ananias and told him to go to Saul and lay his hands upon him to heal his vision and fill him with the Holy Ghost. Ananias was puzzled, telling God that he had "heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints in Jerusalem." But God told him that Saul "is to Me a vessel of election, to carry My Name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel."

Ananias did as he was told, Saul became Paul, and the world was forever changed. Saul went from a lowly murderer, deserving of death and Hell, to one of the Church's very greatest Saints. You, too, have God's invitation to holiness. You will be forgiven if you're repentant! Grieve, but don't despair!

Some reading that might help:
  • The Woman at the Well: John 4:4-42
  • The Adulteress: John 7:53-8:11
  • The Parable of the Lost Sheep: Matthew 18:1-14; Luke 15:1-10
  • The Two Debtors: Luke 7:41-43
  • The Prodigal Son: Luke 15:11-32
  • The Penitential Psalms: Psalms 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129 and 142 (Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143 in Bibles with Masoretic numbering)


1 The commandment "Thou shalt not kill" is the fifth commandment to Roman Catholics, but is enumerated as the sixth commandment for Protestants (and Eastern Catholics). The commandment's meaning is "thou shalt not murder" -- that is, "thou shalt not take innocent human life." It isn't a commandment against defensive violence, killing animals for food while avoiding any unnecessary suffering or cruelty, etc.

2 This page, as should be obvious, is about willed, induced abortions, not spontaneous abortions (miscarriages)

3 Psalm 71:6 in Bibles with Masoretic numbering


5 Jacobs, Steven Andrew. Biologists' Consensus on 'When Life Begins'. July 25, 2018. Retrieved April 12, 2023.

6 Source:  Retrieved August 18, 2022.

7 Source: Retrieved August 22, 2022

8 Henshaw SK, Silverman J. The characteristics and prior contraceptive use of U.S. abortion patients. Fam Plann Perspect. 1988 Jul-Aug;20(4):158-68. PMID: 3243346.

9 Source: Retrieved August 22, 2022

10 Retrieved August 22, 2022

11 Retrieved August 22, 2022

12 Source: Retrieved August 22, 2022

13 Source: Retrieved August 22, 2022

14 Source: Retrieved August 22, 2022. Abby Johnson's "The Walls Are Talking: Former Abortion Clinic Workers Tell Their Stories" can be purchased here.

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