I must correct my previous notion on this matter. In fact, after reading more into the subject, I came to fully agree with the Church’s view on the fact that abortion is never right, even when the mother’s life is at stake. Same thing with contraception. I’ve found these paragraphs while reading about religion and abortion on wikipedia and I think it sums up the point quite well:
[i:b05m523p]Christian writers from the first-century author of the Didache, to the late Pope Paul VI in his Humanae Vitae, to Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (“The Gospel of Life”) have maintained that the Bible forbids abortion. Although the Roman Catholic Church has always considered abortion a grave offense, it has at times punished the offense differently depending on the stage of pregnancy in which the abortion was performed. For example, under Pope Gregory XIV excommunication was prescribed only for those aborting a “quickened” child. “Quickened” refers to the stage of pregnancy in which the child can first be felt to move. Excommunication is a formal recognition of the reality that a person is no longer in communion with the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings, and is no longer eligible to receive the various sacraments. The person excommunicated can contritely confess the sin (material cooperation in an abortion) to a priest and be received back into the Roman Catholic Church.
The Roman Catholic Church today firmly holds that [u:b05m523p][b:b05m523p]”the first right of the human person is his life”[/b:b05m523p][/u:b05m523p] and that life is assumed to begin at fertilization. The equality of all human life is fundamental and complete, any discrimination is evil. [u:b05m523p]Therefore, even when a woman’s life appears jeopardized, choosing her life over her child’s is no less discrimination between two lives – and therefore morally unacceptable[/u:b05m523p]. ” title=”Wink” /> However, the Roman Catholic Church does make a clear distinction between direct abortion & indirect abortion. Direct abortion as a means or an end is always viewed as a moral evil. Indirect abortion occurs when treatment used to save the life of the mother has the secondary side effect of killing the unborn child. An example of indirect abortion is seen in cases of ectopic pregnancy where the fallopian tube would be removed with the unborn intact, saving the life of the woman, but resulting in the indirect death of the unborn. The Roman Catholic Church only recognizes very rare cases where indirect abortion is permissible and views the vast majority abortive procedures to be the result of procuring a direct abortion.
Catholics who procure or participate in an abortion suffer ¬´ipso facto latae sententiae¬ª (automatic, literally by that very fact the sentence is incurred) excommunication under Canon law, provided that the person knows of the penalty at the time the abortion occurs. The Roman Catholic Church also considers the destruction of any embryo to be equivalent to abortion. The following practices are considered immoral because they are likely to involve the destruction of an embryo: any birth control method that potentially may prevent implanation (IUDs, Emergency contraception, Hormonal contraception, i.e. “The Pill” ); embryonic stem cell research or therapy; and in vitro fertilisation (which almost always involves the discarding of a fertilized embryo and is also considered immoral for other reasons). However, the Roman Catholic bishops in the U.S. state that it is moral to provide the “Morning After Pill” or Emergency Contraceptive if fertilization has not occurred to victims of rape or incest ( :” title=”Question” /> I find this quite tricky, but…). Further, Roman Catholic women may use hormonal birth control methods if they remain celibate during the course of treatment. ([b:b05m523p]NB[/b:b05m523p] – Natural Family Planning is an excellent topic to read about. It should be more publicized! ” title=”Very Happy” /> )
In sum, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that direct abortion is always a grave evil. The Second Vatican Council in 1965 referred to abortion as “an unspeakable crime” in the document Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World):
[b:b05m523p]”[F]rom the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.” [/b:b05m523p]
A conciliar Constitution is the most authoritative expression of Catholic faith that exists because they are only issued with the affirmation of a vast majority of all the bishops in the world in union with the Pope. Roman Catholic leaders often explain that modern advancements in scientific and medical knowledge of DNA and pre-natal development have simply affirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s understanding of the beginning of human life.[/i:b05m523p]