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The Debate Is On
(Open Letter on abortion by Cardinal Marc Ouellet)

Carl Spitzweg. Suspicious smoke.
(Carl Spitzweg. Suspicious smoke. [Source])

1) Introduction

Recently, many pro-choice journalists and politicians have attacked Cardinal Marc Ouellet because of his pro-life declarations. A few days after those attacks, the Cardinal convened a press conference to "refocus the issue of abortion".

I will try here to carefully examine his open letter [The debate is open] referenced here [Conférence de presse du Cardinal Marc Ouellet] on the diocesan website), to see if it really refocuses the debate, or if his open letter spreads even more smoke and confusion.

2) The Cardinal's Open Letter

[Green] The abortion debate is on and we must not be afraid of it. Canada's abortion rate, 100,000 abortions per year nationwide, more than 25,000 in Quebec, is much too high.

[Green] The number could be reduced by half

Here, notice how pro-choicers are more logical than Cardinal Ouellet. Pro-choicers don't say: "We could reduce by 50% the number of women who die because of clandestine abortions". They say, very logically, that even the death of one single woman is too much!

[Yellow] if only women in distress because of an unexpected pregnancy were welcomed, informed and accompanied [Red] in their choice [End Red] with compassion and solidarity.

If we bent over backward, this assertion could be taken in a Catholic sense. Yes, killing 15,000 unborn children per year in Quebec is less bad than killing 30,000. Except, given the circumstances, such a statement is almost criminal.

Essentially, the pro-life position is: It's a baby, not a choice. The contrary, pro-choice position is: It's a choice, and the intimate and personal choice of the pregnant woman. To hear a Catholic Bishop use the language of "choice" doesn't refocus the debate, it adds to the confusion.

[Green] My interventions on behalf of a culture of life have been the subject of every sort of interpretation in Canada's English and French media in the past ten days. That is why I wish to clarify the sense of my engagement in the current abortion debate. Thank you for accepting my invitation and allowing me to re-focus the debate on what is essential. The very exceptional cases must not prevent us from seeing the sad reality of abortion that has become too widespread.

[Green] I wish to thank Ottawa's Archbishop Terrence Prendergast who joins me in launching an appeal for solidarity with the most helpless in our society: the unborn child and the woman who [Yellow] is forced [End Yellow] to resort to abortion.

It is impossible to be "forced" to commit murder. It would be preferable to say: "the woman who feels forced", or "the woman who is encouraged to kill her child", etc.

[Green] From the outset, I want to emphasize that my comment in defence of the innocent child, even in cases of rape, was motivated by the desire to call to mind the dignity of women in all circumstances, and the respect due to all [Yellow] new human life [End Yellow].

Two problems here, one easy one, and one hard one. The easy problem is that the English translation is incorrect. The original French version says "vie humaine naissante", which translated correctly into English is "nascent human life", not "new human life".

The big problem is the philosophical problem. "Naissante" in French literally means: "in the process of being born". Does the Cardinal mean "naissante" as "in the process of coming out of the mother's birth canal"? That would be silly! So does he mean "naissante" as in "not fully there yet"? That doesn't make sense either. The thingamabob in the pregnant woman's belly is either 100% a human person, or not. That is crystal-clear, because we either have or don't have the cause of human dignity, i.e. the spiritual soul, created in the image and likeness of God.

If the thingamabob in the pregnant woman's belly doesn't have a spiritual soul, then it's a pure piece of meat, and abortion is marvelous. If not, not. Why does the Cardinal use such a bizarre and ambiguous expression in the original French? Why not simply say: "[...] and the respect due to all unborn human persons"?

[Green] I note that only part of my message has been received and interpreted. I wish to draw attention to the other part, in the hope of raising public awareness of

[Yellow] the true issue in this debate: support for the pregnant woman by the father of the child, her family and society.

Yes, we have to help women in distress. On the other hand, we must not respect their choice if they decide to kill their baby! The true issue of this debate is the ontological status of the thingamabob inside the pregnant woman's belly! Not "accompanying women in their choice", as the title of your press conference [Conférence de presse du Cardinal Marc Ouellet] says!

[Green] Nowhere did I state that I condemn a woman who has resorted to abortion. I have even asserted the opposite when speaking directly to one of these women during a television program.

[Green] I have never declared that a woman who has undergone an abortion is a criminal.

Because you are politically correct, or because you are faithfully transmitting the official teachings of the Catholic Church? (Don't forget that the Holy Council of Vatican II clearly says that abortion is an abominable crime! [Gaudium et spes, #51.3])

The Catholic Church teaches that women, just as much as hemen, are men. In other words, a woman is able to act as responsible adult. And since women also have been wounded by Original Sin, women also are able to commit crimes. To be unable to commit a crime, you have to be a baby, or mentally retarded, or a senile old person, or a raccoon, etc. Observing that women too have the capacity to be criminals is necessary to defend their dignity.

Is abortion murder? That depends on what is killed. In other words, we would have to refocus the debate on the thingamabob in the pregnant woman's belly. If that thingamabob is an innocent human person, then deliberately and directly killing that person is murder. That's simply the application of the dictionary definition of "murder".

But what about the cases (fortunately very rare) where the mother's life is also in danger? See: "Abortion, and Ectopic Words". And what about women who are in horrible situations and who subjectively feel forced to get an abortion? The judicial system already accounts for those cases: it's possible to be non-responsible for one's actions, and therefore not to be punished, even if one has committed a very bad act. See: "Error: "To Act Well, We Just Need To Obey Our Conscience!"" But even in such cases, a very bad act remains very bad, and we have to prevent a woman from committing it.

Finally, if the thingamabob in the pregnant woman's belly is a human person, then the people who should be thrown in jail are the politicians, the judges, the clergy, and all other leaders who have tricked Canada into becoming a barbaric country.

[Red] I am fully aware that the ultimate responsibility for this moral decision is a matter of personal conscience which acts on the basis of various factors, including the individual's intentions and the circumstances. Only God can judge each person because He alone can assess all the elements of each case.

So why were jails invented? If no human authority can ever say: "Mister or Madam, you have deliberately acted wrongly", then nobody can be punished. We would need to empty all jails, re-label all "criminals" into "mentally-ill persons", and send them all to the psychiatric ward.

Does the Catholic Church teach that our conscience is the ultimate authority? Or is it rather Satan who teaches that "If you bite the apple, you'll be like gods, deciding what is good and what is evil"?

To think that poor Pope John Paul II dedicated a whole Encyclical to fight against that serious theological error! And to think that Saint Thomas Aquinas has a Question precisely called: "Whether it is lawful to judge?" [IIa-IIae, q. 60, a. 2.]

[Green] My intention has always been to call to mind the objective moral standard with concern for saving the life of the innocent child and sparing the mother the grave consequences of a deliberately provoked abortion: it is precisely concern for the physical, psychological and spiritual health of women in difficulty that motivated my interventions. I am genuinely sorry that my remarks, distorted or cited out of context, may have caused additional suffering to women facing such situations.

While you were talking about "distortions and misquotes", you could have used the opportunity to condemn the media iron collar which prevents the debate on abortion from escaping from its dark and humid dungeon!

[Green] I hope that this clarification will help set the record straight and re-focus the debate.

Not in my opinion!

[Green] For there is debate, and there must be debate, even if a motion in Quebec and an affirmation by the Prime Minister in Ottawa go in the opposite direction and constitute a refusal to re-visit the legislation on abortion.

Thank you, thank you Mister Cardinal! (But please also mention what such a real debate on abortion would look like!)

[Green] I deplore this attitude of many of our representatves who do not appear willing to face up to the injustice our country condones in offering no legal protection for a child in its mother's womb. In this regard, our country is unique in the world. Many are unaware of this fact and believe they are living in a country that is one of the most advanced in the area of human rights. But we have no lessons to offer to anyone in this field. We should even be more open to what is done elsewhere to have a clearer view of what we must improve to protect the voiceless children who wish to come into the world.

Thank you, thank you Mister Cardinal!

[Green] With my colleague, the Archbishop of Ottawa, who like me has close ties to governments, I am appealing to the conscience of my fellow Canadians, women and men, so that together we may one day call for a change in this unjust situation in our country – the current legal void in abortion matters.

[Green] However, in view of the political and legal impasse in which we live, I am launching an appeal with my Ottawa colleague for an awareness campaign and more programs providing assistance for women in distress in Canada.

[Red] There is a great scarcity of information, support and financial assistance to enable pregnant women to make an informed choice.

I claim there is no "scarcity of information, support and financial assistance for pregnant women". On the contrary, pregnant women are systematically kept away from those resources by the Quebec government. A physician could probably be sued if he referred a woman to a pro-life pregnancy center. Many pro-lifers tell me they could never leave in a hospital a pamphlet advertizing their support services for pregnant women, unless they pretend they are pro-choice. And I'm not even talking about schools! A pro-life resource person, invited in a school controlled by our atheistic Department of Education?

Anyway, if you're a pregnant woman in distress, and if these resources don't work, please tell me, and I'll figure something out for you.

[Green] It is vital that more effective aid programs for women facing a difficult pregnancy be implemented at every level, governmental, medical and social, so that the largest possible number may avoid abortion.

Yes, if we clearly say that the current situation is horrible and unacceptable, then we can advocate for the lesser evil.

[Green] The current debate unexpectedly presents us with a choice for society that may extend beyond the usual divisions and rally the greatest number. The presence of young people in this debate reveals a new sensitvity, different from that of twenty years ago. The family experience has also undergone significant change, but the fact remains that the arrival of a child brings a family immense happiness.

[Green] This value is added to an entire heritage of social solidarity for the most helpless, which constitutes our pride, and demands of Quebec and of all the provinces of Canada a new choice. From now on, it is the responsibility of every individual to reflect on this choice. Let us not fear this debate that will shape the future of our nation.

Personally, I would have supplied a bolder conclusion. I would have re-explained that the right to life is fundamentally fundamental. I would have said that the Province of Quebec is today, morally speaking, the bottom of the barrel of North America (mostly because of the corrupt "Catholic" clergy). And especially, in order to refocus the debate on abortion, I would have repeated once more that "It's a baby, not a choice".

[Green] Quebec City, May 26, 2010

3) Conclusion

This "Pro-choilife" open letter partially de-focuses the debate.

If I was in favor of abortion, I would use this Open Letter by Cardinal Ouellet to attack the Catholic Church! I would quote the Cardinal who says that "only God and the pregnant woman can judge". Then I would point out that the majority of "Catholics" in the Province of Quebec are pro-abortion, and I would say: "Obviously, since the Pope doesn't excommunicate those people, and neither does Cardinal Ouellet, that means it's possible to be pro-choice and Catholic! Therefore, Mister Cardinal, leave us alone and respect our choice!"

But at least Cardinal Ouellet dares to talk about abortion, and he's asking for a debate on this topic! That's already better than all the other "Catholic" Bishops in the Province of Quebec...

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