Why do Catholics believe that Abortion and Embryonic Stem Cell Research are Wrong?


David speaks in a psalm of God's intimate and abiding love for him, even before he was born. He prays: "you formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb... My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret" (Ps 139:13-15). Other biblical passages confirm the truth that the child in the womb, at whatever stage of development, is a fully human person--known and loved by God, sharing the great dignity and value of every human person created by God in his image (see Gn 1:26-27).

The Bible condemns murder, the wrongful taking of innocent human life (see Ex 20:13). Since children in the womb are regarded as human persons in Scripture, killing them is included in this prohibition. In addition, we should note that Jesus shows special concern for children because of their vulnerability and is explicit in his condemnation of those who would hurt these "little ones" (see Mt 18:1-6; 19:13-15). So the Church, in keeping with his example and with the consistent teaching of ancient Scripture and Tradition, condemns abortion as a particularly heinous crime.

Infanticide takes place when an infant is intentionally killed or allowed to die through neglect, often because the child suffers from some disability. Embryonic stem cell research, however noble may be its medical objectives, involves the destruction of unborn children at the embryonic stage. Consequently, the Church condemns these practices as gravely immoral on the same grounds she opposes murder in any form. (Other forms of stem cell research that do not require the destruction of human embryos are acceptable.)

For similar reason, the Church condemns human cloning. This practice involves the manipulation and "manufacturing" of living embryos for commercial or other purposes, as if they were commodities to be used by others rather than children who share the innate dignity of all human beings.

Finally, the Church insists that the human right to life of the innocent, and to the dignity of all, should be defended in civil law. This right is not merely a religious matter, but a part of the universal natural law that should be recognized by all civilized societies.

See also: Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Other related scriptures: 2 Mc 7:22-23; Job 12:10; 31:15; Ps 51:7; 82:3-4; Prv 24:11; Is 44:2; 49:1, 5; Jer 1:5; 7:6; Lk 1:15, 41-44; Acts 17:28; Gal 1:15; 1 Jn 3:15.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 362-368; 2270-2275; 2319; 2322-2323.

*Quoted from The New Catholic Answer Bible. Wichita, Kansas, Fireside Catholic Publishing, 2005. www.firesidecatholic.com

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