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Pelosi Lies About Catholic Stance On Life

From Madam Speaker’s exchange with Tim Brokaw on NBC’s Meet The Press:

MR. BROKAW: Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you’re looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, “Help me out here, Madame Speaker. When does life begin?” what would you tell him?

REP. PELOSI: I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator–St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know. The point is, is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose. Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child–first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester. There’s very clear distinctions. This isn’t about abortion on demand, it’s about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and–to–that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god. And so I don’t think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins. As I say, the Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this, and there are those who’ve decided…

MR. BROKAW: The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it…

REP. PELOSI: I understand that.

MR. BROKAW: …begins at the point of conception.

REP. PELOSI: I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy. But it is, it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And we want abortions to be safe, rare, and reduce the number of abortions. That’s why we have this fight in Congress over contraception. My Republican colleagues do not support contraception. If you want to reduce the number of abortions, and we all do, we must–it would behoove you to support family planning and, and contraception, you would think. But that is not the case. So we have to take–you know, we have to handle this as respectfully–this is sacred ground. We have to handle it very respectfully and not politicize it, as it has been–and I’m not saying Rick Warren did, because I don’t think he did, but others will try to…

Meanwhile, from the Catholic Encyclopedia we have this entry on the subject:

Abortion

Abortion (from the Latin word aboriri , “to perish”) may be briefly defined as “the loss of a fetal life.”

… It was long debated among the learned at what period of gestation the human embryo begins to be animated by the rational, spiritual soul, which elevates man above all other species of the animal creation and survives the body to live forever. The keenest mind among the ancient philosophers, Aristotle, had conjectured that the future child was endowed at conception with a principle of only vegetative life, which was exchanged after a few days for an animal soul, and was not succeeded by a rational soul till later; his followers said on the fortieth day for a male, and the eightieth for a female, child. The authority of his great name and the want of definite knowledge to the contrary caused this theory to be generally accepted up to recent times. Yet, as early as the fourth century of the Christian era, St. Gregory of Nyssa had advocated the view which modern science has confirmed almost to a certainty, namely, that the same life principle quickens the organism from the first moment of its individual existence until its death (Eschbach, Disp. Phys., Disp., iii). Now it is at the very time of conception, or fecundation, that the embryo begins to live a distinct individual life. For life does not result from an organism when it has been built up, but the vital principle builds up the organism of its own body. In virtue of the one eternal act of the Will of the Creator, Who is of course ever present at every portion of His creation, the soul of every new human being begins to exist when the cell which generation has provided is ready to receive it as its principle of life. In the normal course of nature the living embryo carries on its work of, self-evolution within the maternal womb, deriving its nourishment from the placenta through the vital cord, till, on reaching maturity, it is by the contraction of the uterus issued to lead its separate life. Abortion is a fatal termination of this process…

It is evident that the determination of what is right or wrong in human conduct belongs to the science of ethics and the teaching of religious authority. Both of these declare the Divine law, “Thou shalt not kill”. The embryonic child, as seen above, has a human soul ; and therefore is a man from the time of its conception; therefore it has an equal right to its life with its mother; therefore neither the mother, nor medical practitioner, nor any human being whatever can lawfully take that life away. The State cannot give such right to the physician; for it has not itself the right to put an innocent person to death. No matter how desirable it might seem to be at times to save the life of the mother, common sense teaches and all nations accept the maxim, that “evil is never to be done that good may come of it”; or, which is the same thing, that “a good end cannot justify a bad means”. Now it is an evil means to destroy the life of an innocent child. The plea cannot be made that the child is an unjust aggressor . It is simply where nature and its own parents have put it. Therefore, Natural Law forbids any attempt at destroying fetal life.

The teachings of the Catholic Church admit of no doubt on the subject. Such moral questions, when they are submitted, are decided by the Tribunal of the Holy Office. Now this authority decreed, 28 May, 1884, and again, 18 August, 1889, that “it cannot be safely taught in Catholic schools that it is lawful to perform . . . any surgical operation which is directly destructive of the life of the fetus or the mother.” Abortion was condemned by name, 24 July, 1895, in answer to the question whether when the mother is in immediate danger of death and there is no other means of saving her life, a physician can with a safe conscience cause abortion not by destroying the child in the womb (which was explicitly condemned in the former decree), but by giving it a chance to be born alive, though not being yet viable, it would soon expire. The answer was that he cannot.

After these and other similar decisions had been given, some moralists thought they saw reasons to doubt whether an exception might not be allowed in the case of ectopic gestations. Therefore the question was submitted: “Is it ever allowed to extract from the body of the mother ectopic embryos still immature, before the sixth month after conception is completed?” The answer given, 20 March, 1902, was: “No; according to the decree of 4 May, 1898; according to which, as far as possible, earnest and opportune provision is to be made to safeguard the life of the child and of the mother. As to the time, let the questioner remember that no acceleration of birth is licit unless it be done at a time, and in ways in which, according to the usual course of things, the life of the mother and the child be provided for”. Ethics, then, and the Church agree in teaching that no action is lawful which directly destroys fetal life. It is also clear that extracting the living fetus before it is viable, is destroying its life as directly as it would be killing a grown man directly to plunge him into a medium in which he cannot live, and hold him there till he expires

The full entry is quite lengthy and informative.

But note how the Catholic Encyclopedia article specifically rejects the pagan position of Aristotle (referenced later by St. Augustine), that a soul cannot live in an unformed body.

It’s almost as if the Catholic scholar Ms. Pelosi does not know what she is talking about.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, August 25th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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