Lines in the Sand

I’m glad to read this morning that there are still limits to our societal insanity, with the intended forced abortion of a Nigerian woman in Britain with ‘learning disabilities’ now overturned by an appeal court, whose judges will provide their reasons ‘shortly’.

Yet, as Pope Saint Paul VI warned in Humanae Vitae, if our society considers the murder of an unborn child a morally neutral affair – an ironically ‘viable’ choice – then there will always be the danger that the State can force it upon us. As he warned back in 1968, if we were to deem contraception permissible:

Let it be considered also that a dangerous weapon would thus be placed in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies. Who could blame a government for applying to the solution of the problems of the community those means acknowledged to be licit for married couples in the solution of a family problem? Who will stop rulers from favoring, from even imposing upon their peoples, if they were to consider it necessary, the method of contraception which they judge to be most efficacious? In such a way men, wishing to avoid individual, family, or social difficulties encountered in the observance of the divine law, would reach the point of placing at the mercy of the intervention of public authorities the most personal and most reserved sector of conjugal intimacy (#17)

And what holds for contraception, holds also for abortion, sterilization, euthanasia, organ harvesting, already being done ‘in secret’ without the voluntary cooperation of those upon whom these evils are foisted, if some state functionary deems the ‘needs’ great enough. Proportionalist ethics provide no line in the sand beyond which one ‘shall not pass’ – or, to obvert that, no one shall pass, no matter how great the perceived ‘need’.

For, as Pope Saint John Paul II would later make clear, it is only if we deem certain things intrinsically evil, forbidden semper et ubique, always and everywhere, by one and all (cf., Veritatis Splendor, #52) that we will we be free – not just in ourselves and our own moral lives, but also free from dictatorial coercion by the State. A democracy without values easily turns into an open or thinly disguised totalitarianism (Centesimus Annus, #46).

The totalitarians are feeling their oats, the lines in the sand are getting more blurred, and this war is far from over – but it’s heartening to win a battle now and again.