06 March 2009

The Catholic Church and Abortion -- Brazil

The right of women to choose in the case of abortion must be absolute. I can appreciate that nothing is ever absolute, but any restrictions placed on access to abortion must be limited to clearly identifiable objective terms. I am sure there are plenty of people that disagree with this position and I am sure that some of my readers will disagree with me on this as well. One and all feel free to voice your opinions.

A couple of cases out of Brazil have shown that absolutes seem to work from both perspectives of this little argument. The Catholic Church of Brazil under the leadership of Father Jose Cardoso Sobrinho in the Recife region where the abortion was carried out has stated that abortion is against God's law and even where other law may permit abortion, God's law must prevail. The argument being, nothing can be higher than God's law, and where human laws are contrary to God's law then human laws have no value.

I am happy for the good father to have an opinion on this and to argue for it passionately. However, if there was ever a case for the Catholic Church to take a somewhat more moderate view on the issue, then this would be the time.

A nine-year-old girl that had been continuously raped by her step-father eventually fell pregnant with twins. I am guessing that carrying twins to term as an adult is a challenge, but at nine-years-old, life-threatening might be a more apt word?

The stepfather is 23-years-old, has been arrested, and is in protective custody. Protective custody is probably a good thing for him, as rapists of children are likely to become victims of rape themselves when put into the general prison population. Some might argue that this is still better than what they deserve for the crimes they have committed.

It is worth noting that abortion is illegal in Brazil. Nevertheless, there are specific exceptions to this absoluteness where there are clearly identifiable reasons such as where rape was involved or the health of the woman is in jeopardy.

However, in this case the Church's response has been to excommunicate all those involved in the abortion procedure.

I am not Catholic so perhaps I should not concern myself with all or any things Catholic. However, as a mere mortal man with an interest in humanity and the protection of those less fortunate than myself, I cannot reconcile an absolute stance adopted by the Church and the rights of the child in this case, arguments on abortion aside.

The sad part is that this is not the only case in Brazil that is getting news coverage. Another prominent case involves an 11-year-old who is seven months pregnant after being abused by her 51-year-old stepfather. The stepfather's defense is that it was the girl who initiated the sexual contact and not him.

Child sexual abuse is not only a Brazilian problem, it is a world-wide problem!

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