Catholic Teaching on Abortion: a Summary

Direct abortion is intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral.

Direct abortion is murder.

Pope John Paul II: “Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops — who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine — I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, 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. No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.” (Evangelium Vitae, n. 62)

Abortifacient contraception is a type of abortion and therefore a type of murder.

Pope John Paul II: “The close connection which exists, in mentality, between the practice of contraception and that of abortion is becoming increasingly obvious. It is being demonstrated in an alarming way by the development of chemical products, intrauterine devices and vaccines which, distributed with the same ease as contraceptives, really act as abortifacients in the very early stages of the development of the life of the new human being.” (Evangelium Vitae, n. 13).

Abortifacient contraception is intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral.

All direct abortion should be illegal, just as all murder should be illegal.

All abortifacient contraception should be illegal, since it is a type of murder.

The penalty for actually procuring an abortion is automatic excommunication (Code of Canon Law, canon 1398; cf. Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 1450, n. 2.)

Pope John Paul II: “The excommunication affects all those who commit this crime with knowledge of the penalty attached, and thus includes those accomplices without whose help the crime would not have been committed.” (Evangelium Vitae, n. 62.)

A woman who performs an abortion on herself, by any knowing and deliberate means, whether by a physically direct act, or by taking so-called ’emergency contraception’, or by using abortifacient contraception, thereby procures an abortion, commits a grave sin, and is automatically excommunicated.

Abortifacient contraception is the type of murder called abortion, even when it is used for a medical purpose, or with a therapeutic intention, or in dire circumstances.

A woman who authorizes someone else to perform an abortion on herself, procures an abortion, commits a grave sin, and is automatically excommunicated.

A man or woman who knowingly and deliberately chooses to pay for an abortion, thereby procures an abortion, commits a grave sin, and is automatically excommunicated.

Politicians who authorize abortions by passing a law legalizing abortion, or paying for abortions, or broadening access to abortions, thereby procure many abortions, commit very grave sin, and are automatically excommunicated.

Every Catholic, including politicians, the laity in general, clergy and religious, who rejects or obstinately doubts the teaching that direct abortion is always gravely immoral, while knowing that this is the definitive teaching of the Church, commits the sin of formal heresy and is automatically excommunicated.

On the subject of indirect abortion, see these articles:

On Direct and Indirect Abortion: the new proportionalism

Abortion in the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services

Two physician/ethicists comment on Phoenix abortion case

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and Bible translator

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