Forced Birth or a Moral Human Duty?

By Jennifer Hartline Published on May 18, 2019

The state of Alabama has done a remarkable and courageous thing by outlawing abortion in the state, with an exception if the mother’s life is in danger. Georgia passed their own law banning abortions after 6 weeks.

Abortion-demanders are apoplectic. They left livid behind miles ago and are simply beyond consolation now. Poor devils.

We will hear ever-louder cries of “forced birth!” and see the handmaiden costumes employed for dramatic emphasis. So let’s talk about it.

The Good of the Other

Do women have an obligation to give birth once they become pregnant?

They have an obligation to give the child in the womb the necessary time to live and grow and be born, yes. It comes down to the principle of duty, and at the heart of duty lies the supreme virtue of love.

There are many times in life when the true good means I have a duty to act in a way that puts someone else ahead of myself. There are responsibilities in life that rise to the level of duty, when one must put the needs and well-being of someone else first, even at great personal cost.

Duty is Dying

This idea of duty and self-sacrifice is dying in our culture. It’s being suffocated by the almighty Self. The lingo of the liturgy of Self includes lofty-sounding words like autonomy, rights, self-determination, equality and identity. All homage is paid to how the Self feels and what the Self wishes and what will satisfy the Self today. The Self must have everything just the way it pleases, and no impediment or contradiction will be tolerated. It is blasphemy to even suggest that the Self should be denied anything it desires.

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Pregnancy, of course, mows the Self down flat. When Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for a friend,” I happen to think He was including pregnant woman in that awesome proverb. Every pregnant woman lays down her life for the child growing within her, to varying degrees, depending on the circumstances and the condition of each pregnancy. But every mother gives of her body to the new life developing in her womb, and it is her duty to do so. Love asks it and accepts nothing less.

Doing the Right Thing

Yes, a woman is indeed obligated toward the child in her womb. The child has no choice at all and no power. Is it always easy or pleasant or happy? No. Since when is duty only done when it is pleasant, happy and easy? By definition, we must do our duty even when it costs us. Even when it is painful.

For example, we must keep our marriage vows not only “for better” but also “for worse.” No one needs vows when everything is sunny and romantic and fulfilling. The vows become the rock we stand on when things seem to be crumbling, and the pain smashes against us like a hurricane. Our vows are there to remind us of what we promised and to require us to step up and do our duty even when the feelings are gone.

It is not about the almighty Self. It’s about love, and love is sacrifice. Whatever else we may dress love in to make it appeal to us, love is sacrifice. Love is a cross. This is My body, given for you… My blood, shed for you…

What the world does not understand, however, is that the cross carried willingly does not crush you, because Divine strength is carrying that cross with you. To say that love is a cross does not mean it isn’t sweet or beautiful at the same time. It absolutely is both. It means that love is not love at all if the object is Self.

A Duty to Give Life, Not Take It

The child in the womb asks for and deserves our love. We have a duty to welcome that child, not come at him with knives and clamps and suction machines. A mother is asked to give her life for her child, not take her child’s life for her own.

This is no doubt a harsh chord in many modern ears. What is right and true remains so, even when it seems harsh.

Do we consider it our duty to care for the lives of our children, or do we insist we are entitled to destroy them whenever it suits us? We can attempt to assuage the avenging conscience with nonsense about blobs of cells, and parse words like “dependence” and “viability” but we can never justify our violence toward the ones we should love the most.

There’s much more to this duty, of course, and that’s part two of this conversation. Don’t think the men are off the hook.

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