There has been much conversation and protests since the US Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which for all intents and purposes paved the way for the legalization of abortion in this country in 1972. The media would have us believe that 90% of this country is outraged by this decision. This isn’t even close to the truth. Celebrities, musicians and professional athletes (the current moral compass in this country, sadly) are decrying this decision as an outrage against a woman’s right to her own body. How can the federal government, and the Catholic Church, and other Christian churches or anyone for that matter tell a person what to do with their body? This is the narrative that we are confronted with time and again. We even hear about the tragic and horrific story of a ten-year-old girl in Ohio that was raped and became pregnant because of that assault, and then had to travel to Indiana to procure an abortion… to justify the necessity of a law in support of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. There is a slogan the pro-choice people have been displaying on placards at protests for some time now, “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.”
On August 1st, I read a lengthy news article out of California about a 60-some year-old woman, diagnosed with terminal cancer who decided to legally end her life. There is a law in California called an “End of Life Option Act (EOLA) that was enacted on June 9, 2016, which allows terminally ill adults living in California to obtain and self-administer aid-in-dying drugs.
This article went on to describe the life of this woman who had decided to euthanize herself, the diagnosis of cancer, the effect that diagnosis had on her and the decision to end her life. The article then went in detail to describe the way she proceeded to prepare for her death and the actual experience of her dying. The author of the article I would imagine supported the EOLA and described the circumstances of her death in a very peaceful and “romantic” way.
The mantra that the woman shared as she prepared for her death was “My life, my body, my death. It’s just my time.”
I don’t claim to know the first thing about what a person goes through emotionally or physically when confronted with an unwanted pregnancy or a diagnosis of terminal illness, and I can only imagine the anguish that goes with those experiences but the belief that a person can do what they want with their body because it belongs to them is erroneous.
OUR BODY IS NOT OURS – IT BELONGS TO GOD!
If we believe that God created us and made us in his image and likeness (very few people don’t agree with this, despite what others would like us to believe) then the inevitable conclusion must be that our bodies belong not to us, but to the God who fashioned and made us.
Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth. God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1: 26-27
St. John Paul II, in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, (The Gospel of Life) says the following (#39):
Man’s life comes from God; it is his gift, his image and imprint, a sharing in his breath of life. God therefore is the sole Lord of this life: man cannot do with it as he wills. God himself makes this clear to Noah after the Flood: “For your own lifeblood, too, I will demand an accounting … and from man in regard to his fellow man I will demand an accounting for human life” (Gen 9:5). The biblical text is concerned to emphasize how the sacredness of life has its foundation in God and in his creative activity: “For God made man in his own image” (Gen 9:6).
Human life and death are thus in the hands of God, in his power: “In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind”, exclaims Job (12:10). “The Lord brings to death and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up” (1 Sam 2:6). He alone can say: “It is I who bring both death and life” (Dt 32:39).
But God does not exercise this power in an arbitrary and threatening way, but rather as part of his care and loving concern for his creatures. If it is true that human life is in the hands of God, it is no less true that these are loving hands, like those of a mother who accepts, nurtures and takes care of her child: “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul” (Ps 131:2; cf. Is 49:15; 66:12-13; Hos 11:4).
St. Paul says the following: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20
The truth of the reality that our body belongs to God then necessitates that another life in the womb of a mother also belongs to and comes from God, so we can’t make the decision to terminate its life. Because our body belongs to God, we can’t decide to end our lives to avoid the suffering of a terminal illness. God is love and God doesn’t make mistakes, no matter how difficult, painful, tragic, and horrific the circumstances which lead to life are, nor do we have the option of ending our life prematurely.
Pope Benedict XVI said: Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.
On August 1st we celebrated the feast day of St. Alphonsus Ligouri, Bishop, and Doctor of the Church. In a sermon, he wrote:
From all eternity he [God] has loved us. And it is in this vein that he speaks to us: “O man, consider carefully that I first loved you. You had not yet appeared in the light of day, nor did the world yet exist, but already I loved you. From all eternity I have loved you.”
God loves all his creation… all of us, without exception. He loves us so much that he sent his only Son into the world to redeem our sinfulness – His Son, who endured betrayal, suffering, pain, and death on the cross. Let us pray that we might recognize God’s love in all human life created by Him and not be tempted to end it prematurely to avoid suffering and pain.
May God bless you all.