Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral
evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and
remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion
willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral
You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause
the newborn to perish.
God, the Lord of life, has entrusted tomen the noble mission
of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner
worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the ut
most care from the moment of conception: abortion and
infanticide are abominable crimes.
Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave
offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunica
tion to this crime against human life. “Apersonwho procures a com
pleted abortion incurs excommunication
“by the very commission of the offense,”
and subject to the
conditions provided by Canon Law.
The Church does not thereby
intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the
gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the
innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole
The inalienable right to life of every innocent human indi
vidual is a
constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:
“The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and re
spected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights
depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent
a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature
and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the
person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should men
tion in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity
from the moment of conception until death.”
“The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings
of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is
denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place
its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the
more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are under
mined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be
2, 2: SCh 248, 148; cf.
19, 5: PG 2, 777;
5, 6: PG 2, 1173; Tertullian,
9: PL 1, 319-320.
51 § 3.
77 CIC, can. 1398.
78 CIC, can. 1314.
79 Cf. CIC, cann. 1323-1324.