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Part Three


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

latae sententiae,


“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

of society.


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.

Ep. Barnabae

19, 5: PG 2, 777;

Ad Diognetum

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.

80 CDF,

Donum vitae