12 September 2018
Life

“The Lancet” vs. Fetus’ Rights

After the rejection of abortion reform in Argentina, hardly scientific words published by the medical journal

 “Catholic Church vs. women’s rights in Argentina” is the title of the editorial of the British medical journal The Lancet in its issue of August 18th. It refers to the events surrounding the draft proposed to reform the 1921 law on voluntary abortion, rejected by a majority by of the country’s senators. Repeatedly underlining his “disappointment” over this decision, the editorialist quotes the Argentine bishops and “the cardinal of Buenos Aires,” who “pontificated fetal rights in a mass during the legislative debate,” thus unduly exercising “the Church’s influence” on the Parliament of a “deeply Catholic Argentina.”

“The reading of the editorial suggests—wrote Fr. Roberto Colombo in Avvenire  — some considerations. First of all, the hasty lightness with which the new edition of the Catechism is said to represent a ‘change in Catholic doctrine,’ in the passage about the death penalty. [...] Even more so, if the Church now excludes capital punishment for those guilty of very serious crimes, how could She permit the suppression of an innocent unborn child, for whatever reason and under any circumstances? Admitting absurdly, without in any way granting it, that a presumed logic of the ‘Pope who can and intends to change the doctrine’ in some of its points—the editorialist imagines—may be invoked by some to suggest to the Holy Father thoughts in this sense with regard to abortion, precisely Pope Francis’ words, repeated by him many times, categorically exclude this supposition: ‘Abortion is not a lesser evil. It is a crime. [...] And obviously, since it is a human evil—like any murder—it is also condemned’ by the Church (17 February 2016).”

Finally, adds Colombo, “in considering abortion as a question that would concern only the intimate sphere of ‘women’s reproduction’ and the ‘bodily autonomy of women,’ the text under consideration shows misunderstanding of the biological identity and human nature of the conceived child, which constitute him/her, like the mother, as a subject in fact and with a right to his life and as a patient for medicine. This scientific, anthropological, and clinical-obstetric ‘forgetfulness’ contrasts with innumerable articles appearing in authoritative international medical journals, including The Lancet itself (cf. Vol. 358, year 2001, p. 54), which ear the title or speak about ‘The Fetus as a Patient’.”