George A. Sprecace M.D., J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New London, P.C.

Point and Counterpoint: Abortion and Alternatives - Article 15, for Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Review…And Questions About Grey Areas

Abortion involves the intentional destruction of a human life.  This is black and white…no grey here.  In fact, the Church rightly considers embryonic stem cell research as a form of abortion; and the Vatican has begun the excommunication of scientists who facilitate such research.  The Vatican has also notified Amnesty International that it will no longer be considered a “human rights organization” by the Church if it proceeds with plans to support and encourage abortions worldwide.

But are there no grey areas in dealing with pro-life issues?  Should mechanical contraception, intended to prevent union of sperm and ovum, be equated in seriousness with abortion?  This is an issue that has plagued good Catholics for many decades.  Remember hearing about or knowing many good Catholic married couples who stopped going to church for ten or fifteen years…their child-bearing years…because they “didn’t want to be hypocrites”, only to return to the Church thereafter?   What do you think that was all about?  What purpose did that serve?   And then there is the proven ability of mechanical contraception to reduce infection and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS.   This issue is finally getting needed attention from the Vatican.

Should embryonic stem cell research, producing embryos precisely to “harvest” embryonic stem cells while inevitably killing the baby, be equated with the unintended loss of embryos in the effort of loving couples to become parents through in vitro fertilization?   And could even that loss be averted by better planning and cooperation among married couples?

Gay “marriages” are not consistent with Catholic understanding of the central role of the union in the Sacrament of Matrimony of a man and a woman, for the specific purpose of receiving the divine gift of children.   But should committed, loving couples of the same sex be denied civil rights under civil law?  And, given the tens of thousands of children in this country who spend their formative years in 5 or 10 foster homes, should such couples be denied the opportunity to give such children a loving and supportive home?

“Mercy killing” or “Euthanasia” is killing, pure and simple.  But we have shown that the right of self-determination, concepts of futility in treatment, and palliative sedation all have a legitimate place in the deliberation of the many grey areas that arise in the real world.

And what about divorce?  It is contrary to divine law as promulgated by our Church.  It is also unfortunate and often devastating to the couple and especially to the children involved.  If the Catholic persons who divorce and then re-marry must be prohibited from receiving Holy Communion, should the Church not have compensatory mechanisms to demonstrate its continued love for and interest in them?  Or is the stretching of the Decree of Annulment at times beyond all recognition a better way to uphold God’s Will?

These questions are not new to you.  Our intent here is to stimulate a meaningful and honest dialogue with our priests and bishop in an effort to promote and secure the understanding, love and faith of the faithful in our religion.

Peter Moore, PhD    George A. Sprecace, M.D., J.D.

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