Religion

The Catholic Bishops Should Stand Firm on Abortion

President Joe Biden departs Holy Trinity Catholic Church on the first Sunday as president in Washington, D.C., January 24, 2021. (Erin Scott/Reuters)
They should follow their teaching and science on when human life begins -- even if that means denying President Biden Communion.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has repeatedly declared that the right to life is paramount, that abortion poses a monumental threat to humankind, and that eliminating it is their “preeminent priority” among human-rights issues.

Now we’re about to discover whether the bishops mean what they say. Later this week, from June 16 to 18, the conference will discuss a draft document which recommends that Catholics who publicly support abortion should not present themselves for Communion.

Those pro-abortion Catholics include a regular worshipper at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown, D.C., who just happens to be president of the United States. This will be an awkward meeting, because an influential minority of Catholic bishops are Biden loyalists who have no problem giving him Communion, including Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington.

You could be forgiven for thinking that, however painful the bishops’ dilemma, this all boils down to theology and the internal politics of the Catholic Church.

If we take a closer look, however, what we see is an argument about biology. It’s religion versus science — with the strange twist that Biden is the one advocating a doctrine and the Church is the one adhering to the facts.

When it comes to abortion, the dogma lives loudly within President Biden. “When a human life starts is a personal matter,” he effectively says. “It’s immoral to subject others to my Catholic standards.”

In fact, the question of when human life starts is no more a “personal matter” than the temperature at which water boils.

Biden should peruse the internationally acclaimed Carnegie Stages of Human Embryonic Development, which show that a human embryo or a human fetus is a whole, individual, and living human being, not just a “potential” human being. It’s an incontrovertible scientific fact that all sexually reproduced human beings begin to exist at the start of the process of fertilization (Carnegie Stage 1a). By the same token, abortion ends the life of an actual existing human being with a truly human nature.

When a human life starts is not a subjective political, religious, or personal matter; it is an objective, empirical, and contemporary scientific finding of the biological science of human embryology, which was instituted in 1942 (coincidentally, the same year that Biden was born).

The Carnegie Stages continue to be documented, reviewed, refined, and advanced for scientific research and education purposes by a global organization of scientific experts.

Biden’s ignorance of this topic should be a cause of shame for Catholics and embarrassment for everyone else. Listen to this waffling from the vice-presidential debate in 2012: “I accept my Church’s position on abortion as what we call a de fide doctrine. Life begins at conception, that’s the Church’s judgment. I accept it . . . but I refuse to impose it on others.”

And that was the old, “moderate” Joe Biden. Last year, he repositioned himself as a pro-choice fanatic to gain the presidential nomination. Now, he’s planning to strip away First Amendment rights from opponents of the Democrats’ far-left abortion agenda.

It’s clear that one of the cornerstones of Biden’s dissent from Church teaching on abortion is ignorance about when a human being begins to exist. And this is something that the USCCB must address next month, in addition to the call for pro-choice Catholics to abstain from Communion.

Biden’s hardline support for late-term abortions is not shared by most Catholics. Unfortunately, roughly half of Catholics are also comfortable with the mildly pro-choice position that Biden held until he surrendered to the abortion-celebrating extremists in his own party and the media.

Why is that? These are lots of factors, but perhaps the most important is that millions of Catholics are mired in Bidenesque ignorance. The president claims that science does not know that a sexually reproduced human being starts to exist at “conception” (fertilization). According to a recent Marist Poll, nearly 80 percent of pro-choice Americans are unaware that a human life begins at fertilization, and sadly this figure includes Catholics.

But science does know.

Scientific ignorance about the fundamentals of human development (e.g., when a human life starts) is not a virtue — particularly among Catholics, who have an extraordinary obligation to know, recognize, and protect innocent human life. This is especially critical for those Catholics, such as President Biden, who have the capacity to make an outsized impact in terms of influencing others and determining public policies and laws about embryos, fetuses, or other human beings later in life.

The Catholic Church must align itself with empirical facts. The final document that emerges from the USCCB meeting must spell out to ordinary Catholics, and to the world at large, that arguments in favor of abortion clash not only with Church teaching but also with objective scientific reality.

Brooke Stanton is the co-author of When You Became You and the CEO of Contend Projects, a registered 501(c)(3) education organization spreading the basic, accurate scientific facts about when a human life starts and the biological science of human embryology.

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