Words Written in Trembling

A reader recently sent me the following:

Somebody I know wrote:

This following is about abortion, but not “is it right or wrong” or “what does the Church teach,” but “How on earth would you deal with this pastorally?”

A friend of mine has a married cousin. She and her husband had a healthy child and a few years later, she got pregnant again. They very much wanted this child, but at the three month point or so, the ultrasound revealed that the fetus had not only spinal bifida, but no head. She had an abortion.

This was one of the worst things I’d ever heard about. Personally, I don’t condemn the abortion since the idea of having that sort of . . . I don’t know . . . growing inside you for another six months, then giving birth to it and watching it die in a matter of hours is beyond nightmarish. But in a pastoral situation, what on earth could you do? What on earth could you say?

I’m put off by her description of the baby as a “sort of . . . I don’t know . . .” instead of a person who might have a soul, but it’s so hard! I mean, recalling my priest’s (? I think?) homily with the whole demolishing a building analogy (if you’re not sure someone’s inside, you shouldn’t risk bombing the place), we can’t be sure that baby didn’t have a soul, but we can be sure that baby would not live to take its first breath. I can only imagine the parents’ heartbreak when faced with the terrible choice of aborting their baby or going through the whole painful pregnancy and labor to give birth to something already dead . . . . To echo the original poster’s question, what on earth could you do?

Part of the difficulty here is that such questions usually involve several parts. What does God think? What would I do? What should I make of what those people over there did? And then we start feeling torn between obeying God when He says “Don’t kill” and obeying God when He says “Don’t judge.” And in our culture, “Don’t judge” has much the louder voice because of the great terror of “imposing our values.”

Let’s start with the loudest voice: “Don’t judge.” We are bound to obey that command of Our Lord, but we are also bound to understand what it means. It does not mean, as our culture takes it to mean, “Remain agnostic about the possibility of ever knowing what is right and wrong.” It means, “Don’t play God. Don’t imagine you know the souls of others and what motivated their choices, how culpable they are, etc.” The funny thing is, our culture is ready to play God all the time, while remaining unable to say if there is such a thing as right and wrong. So let’s set aside the people in the story, whom it is not ours to judge, and simply consider the act in abstract: the deliberate taking of innocent human life. Is it wrong always?

The answer is: Yes. Always. That’s what “You shall not murder” means.

That’s the other command we have to deal with here. I think, pastorally speaking, the best thing we can do with this situation is not adjudicate the souls of people we don’t know anything about concerning a choice they have already made (since that is way too much of a temptation to judge them, especially in cyberspace where judgment and condemnation flow like wine), but to first ask ourselves how we might respond rightly in a similar situation.


In talking to my wife (the actual baby carrier in this family), she points out the following: First, ultrasounds have been wrong. Second, miracles happen sometimes. Third, and most salient here: Every baby she has had is dying. The question is, simply, when?

When we put it that way, we suddenly realize something: Knowing that the baby is going to die sooner rather than later is no reason to kill the baby. It is, says my wife, a reason to love the baby for as long as you can while it’s here. That’s very painful, but that is the risk we take every time we choose to love, because everything we love in this world is mortal.

It may be objected that a headless baby cannot appreciate our love. I would reply that a healthy baby cannot appreciate our love either, because a healthy baby has no more mind than a headless one. The whole point of parenthood, especially in its earliest stages, is radical self-giving (like Christ) to a being who is wholly incapable of giving anything back besides a sucking reflex and a poopy diaper. It’s an analogy of the grace of God, the great wake-up call enfleshed, that It’s Not About Me and What I Get From It — a short course in the life of the Blessed Trinity.

In contrast to this Christian vision of unearned and earnable love, the unspoken contract of much of our culture is that the baby is there for the sake of the parents. This is the basic idea behind parents who treat babies not as a gift, but as a civil right and a consumer commodity, who do in vitro fertilization or rent-a-womb surrogate parenting. And, of course, one of the corollaries of this mentality is that if the baby is not Perfect, then the parents have the right to break the deal. Speaking of playing God . . .

Finally, as a Catholic, I would note that, if aborted, a baby has no access to the sacrament of baptism. We can, of course, still entrust the victim of abortion to the love of God; but I, at any rate, would not be able to look God in the eye and tell Him I denied my baby the sacrament because my feelings were more important than my child’s eternal welfare. So, were it me, I would rather go through the temporary pain of his short life and see him in heaven, eternally happy.

These are all things I would say to myself if I were weighing the matter. They are also things I would say to a friend I was trying to level with, one I knew well enough that he would understand I was aiming to speak the truth, not to condemn.

I would say such things because, at least in my own case, I prefer it when people level with me and don’t just affirm me in my okayness, especially during times of crisis. I would say such things because I believe this view to reflect not just the truth of my frightened and painful feelings as a parent in such a situation, but the truth of the cosmos as well. The feelings of parents are certainly part of the equation, but they cannot be the whole equation. Some people would undoubtedly say, “You don’t know what it’s like.” But I’m not sure they are right. True, I’ve never had an acephalic baby. But we’ve had four sons, and in every case, you wonder — all parents wonder — “What if there’s something wrong?” Because it’s the risk you take every time you choose to love a mortal thing.

The answer of Christ to the question “What is the risk you take to love a mortal thing?” is the cross — and the empty tomb. That’s what love costs in this world, and that’s what the choice to love gains us. And there’s no escaping that, because of the sort of creatures we are. To abort one’s baby is not to avoid the cross; it is to choose a different and heavier one.

In the meantime, it seems to me that, now that Christ has been crucified again in this terrible situation, our task is not to sit in judgment of the young couple who made this dreadful choice, but to make the choice of Christ crucified to love and pray for them. Because, of course, His mercy and love for them are undimmed, and He still desires them — and their baby — to be with Him. May it be so through the prayers of the Holy Family and the Holy Innocents.

Mark P. Shea


Mark P. Shea is the author of Mary, Mother of the Son and other works. He was a senior editor at Catholic Exchange and is a former columnist for Crisis Magazine.

  • Eric Giunta

    Weak article, Mr Shea, because it does not address the elephant-in-the-room: How is a baby without a head–seemingly without that by which the soul manifests itself in consciousness–a human person? What about cloned human body parts, like hands, which are clearly human and alive, but are not human persons? How is the headless baby any different than a more complex cloned body part? The headless baby seems not to have any rational potential at all; why is it therefore a human being?

  • Briana

    These are just theories: The baby wasn’t cloned; it was a product of a relationship between a man and a woman. Secondly, a human being is just that: a human being. The proverbial chicken with its head cut off is still a chicken.

  • Mother of Two Sons

    As difficult as that thought of your wife is, its Truth, resounds in my heart, like a beautiful set of wind chimes…. like the old saying, an angel is born with every bell rung… Yes, God went so way out of His way, from our perspective, to make it known that by design each of us is a unique creation of His…. and that if He went on and on and on creating us we would still have but a glimpse of Him… and that we are all walking from the mind of God toward and into the very Heart of Him.
    As parents and as children when our parents age, we get to accompany, nurture, stand by, encourage,guide, coach, inspire, comfort, etc to the door to the innermost chamber of His Heart; sometimes way earlier than we would ever dream.
    I have learned, the hard painful way, that JOY follows everytime when I take God’s perspective. We inherited or were born into the world when we were; and today, we stand in this beautiful world at the furthest part of its existence, to date. So, it is wonderful to God that a growing number of His children are grasping the magnificence of the very life He has given us! He, like the best of parents is looking on, as if to ask, is this The Generation? that will lay down the law in black and white: “Life begins at the moment of conception and is sacred and to be protected and valued throughout all the stages of this journey”.
    Just like we don’t punish or condemn our child when they fall down as they are learning to walk; nor do we give up our instruction if they don’t “get it” by 11 months, 12 months, 15 months, etc; God does not condemn us but has provided us with all the knowledge to “Get it Right”, in our generation!

    In earlier days the baby would have been brought to full term and most likely have died; today we stand with a level of knowledge never before imagined, and live in a morally confusing mixed message generation; your question of what would you do is a powerfully compelling one.
    We have a huge opportunity to assist with a Leap forward in humanity, in our nation, by revisiting and firmly resolving that which already exists in our US Constitution, and is mostly misunderstood today; The most edifying, glorious, dependable position we can take begins with: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. We are to choose from God, the Creator’s position; we must always choose LIFE. If we can get this Law on the books, reversing Roe v. Wade, in this generation, it will provide a most critical moral platform for the generations to come to stand upon; who most certainly will have as an everyday part of their lives ever more complex human breakthroughs of knowledge from which to make decisions. Without this LAW firmly established as a nation, I am afraid our nation will not exist very much longer; holding life sacred is critical to handling the ever complex KNOWLEDGE that we are on the path to uncover!

  • Kathryn

    I would add, Mr. Shea, abortions have negative consequences not just for the bady, but for the mother. It would be devistating to have this kind of pregnancy. BUT I think it would be even more devistating to have this kind of pregnancy and then have to suffer from an abortion gone wrong…and maybe put future children at increased risk. And perhaps myself due to an increase in the chance for breast cancer.

    If for some reason carrying the child to term is not medically advisable, perhaps carry it until the pregnancy can end in a C-section (also not without risk, but I would think less than an abortion) and then incubation…although I am not sure that if the child is truly headless it would survive the umbillical cord being cut. OF course, perhaps the ultrasound is wrong and the child does have a head. On visual exam, the surgeon would see that and perhaps the pregnancy and child could be saved.

  • Eric Giunta


    A chicken with its head cut off is dead.

  • Pammie

    As a young mother I found myself in the States on holiday and expecting a baby. I ask the name of a good OB/GYN and went to see him . He confirmed my suspicions. In the course of the exam I told him that there was a slim chance that I had been exposed to german measles recently and I did not know if I had them as a child and thus be immuned. He immediately prescribed an abortion “to be on the safe side”. Needless to say I was horrified and left his office in a HUGE snit.

    This was in 1979 and I later learned that he had opened one of the first abortion mills in this city. Through a friend of his I found out that he was the father of a child with physical and mental problems, had taken it very badly and was “on a mission” as it were.

    The moral? I suppose that doctors don’t know it all and they can make medical decisions for their patient based on many criteria, not always sound or consistent. The child? She’s 32, hale and hearty and a dream of a girl.

  • Jennifer

    Beautifully and thoughtfully written.

  • Bobby Bambino

    Although I do not agree with Eric’s tone, he does bring up teh point taht I was thinking about while reading the article, which is “can a being at taht stage of development without a head be a person?” I’m not trying to say that it is having a head that infuses dignity and moral worth. Rather, I wonder if a fetus at that stage without a head is more like a cloned hand as opposed to an integrated whole with the natural potential for rational and moral reflection. We know that there are examples of fusions of egg and sperm which result in things that are not human beings, such as a hydatidiform mole. I believe this undermines Briana’s point. Could the fetus without a head be a similar case to that of a hydatidiform mole? This *seems* like such a different situation than a fetus developing without, say, a kidney or arms. I guess one needs to know more clearly what is meant by “without a head.”

    I don’t know. I am CERTAINLY not advocating for abortion of any kind. Rather, I am trying to figure out if a fetus who develops without a head is such a gross genetic aberration that it implies that the fetus never was human. Any ideas?

  • Erin Manning

    Mark, this is a very thoughtful and thought provoking post. As I read it, though, I was reminded of a news article I read long ago concerning what the writer called an abortion of a conjoined twin.

    The situation described was this: one twin, rather weak, was slowly dying in utero because the strain of circulating his blood through the other’s body was weakening him dangerously. The other twin, however, was…a torso. That was all that had been formed. Blood was still pumping through this torso because it was partially attached to the first twin; the mother was told that the doctor could go in and remove the twin/torso (I think the pregnancy was six or seven months along) and save the fully-formed baby’s life; she chose to do this, and the writer, as I said, called it an “abortion” of the conjoined twin.

    I wondered at the time about this extremely odd (and probably astonishingly rare) situation. Was it really an abortion? It seemed as though the attached torso did not and would not have life without being attached to the twin. Is this a situation where the surgical removal of the “extra” torso would be morally permissible, I wonder?

    Granted, without knowing all the specific details (which may have been presented inaccurately in the news article, for all I know) one wouldn’t have enough information to proceed. But I’ve always been a little curious about what the Church would advise in such a situation.

  • Veronica

    A couple of questions, somewhat unrelated to the main theme of the article: Supposing the baby had indeed been born without a head, how can you baptize him? Is there a way to baptize a headless baby?

    (By the way, these are honest questions, not personal opinions. I believe abortion is always wrong!)

  • Jim

    In general, I think that in discussing these sorts of issues, while interesting and provoke serious reflection, we should keep in mind that this sort of situation requires the analysis of the Magisterium. If the Magisterium has not clearly pronounced on the issue, then we should seek out advice from competent moral theologians. Clearly Mark Shea is not a competent moral theologian, and to my knowledge he has never claimed to be. While it is one thing to express an opinion on something, do not satisfy yourself with that opinion alone. Seek out what the Magisterium and those competent theologians have to say as well. The National Catholic Bioethics Center is a great resource to consider.

  • Lumen

    I don’t know if your correspondent understood the baby’s condition correctly. A baby without a head would certainly be dead anyway and she would have suffered a spontaneous miscarriage in the early stages. Was it rather that the baby had anencephaly? In that case, the baby certainly had a head, but large portions of his/her brain were missing.

    If someone in my family was faced with such a situation, I would refer them to read the website BeNotAfraid.net before they consider an abortion.

    Read some stories about anencephaly here: http://www.benotafraid.net/sto…nencephaly

  • Mark Shea

    I agree 100%. I answered because I was asked, but, as the title suggests, I feel no particular competence in the field and will defer instantly to a moral theologian with competence in the field.

  • Bobby Bambino

    “A baby without a head would certainly be dead anyway and she would have suffered a spontaneous miscarriage in the early stages.”

    Thank you Lumen. I thought I was the only one who thought that a “headless” baby would be dead. If we are talking about anencephaly, then the situation makes much more sense.

  • Sheafmom

    Although my own experience differs, in that I would miscarry baby after baby (at least 5 that we know of) I am too familiar with the struggle of becoming pregnant only to end with empty arms. I was forced to ask God “Should we be practicing NFP to avoid conceiving children that are merely destined to die in my womb? The answer startled me. The Lord brought me to the same conviction your wife offers us here in this article. No, I should not deny God the right to bless us with an eternal soul based on the fact that it may not spend much time here on Earth with us before he/she goes on to be with our Lord.

    A speaker at a homeschool convention put it best when she said, while explaining her own 2 miscarriages, that “as parents our number one responsibility is to raise our children to know, love, and serve God, so as to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. If our goal is to raise children for Eternity in Heaven, job done, 2 there, 7 to go.”

    Everyday is a gift. We have many friends and family who have well outlived their children. Yes, it is quite possibly the most painful cross to bare, however none of them would wish to go back and never conceive the child that they had to witness pass away at 6, 17, 24, 37 or 52 years old. It is not for us to judge how long someone must live in order for their lives to have been of “value”.

    Another young lady (maybe 20 years old) at a convention touched my heart forever when she told me “the Lord must have something awesome planned for you to have allowed you to create so many souls spending their time before His throne praying for you”. Wow, out of the mouths of babes. These souls are not dead they are alive praying for their parents, their siblings, their family before God Himself.

    Nicholas, Elizabeth, John, Mary, and Joseph W. pray for us.

  • Charlotte

    If the question in anecephaly, then the situation is clearer. No less sad, but clearer. An anecephalic infant is still a human infant, and entitled to love and care during whatever time it has. Your point about the attitude we should have to those who find themselves in this situation stands.

  • Ryan Haber

    A lot to take in Mark, even for someone like myself who has been involved in pro-life efforts for years.

    Very beautifully, thoughtfully written.

  • Cord Hamrick

    I must admit that a baby without a head (not one in which there is deformed brain matter, but no brain matter at all) seems, to me, not to be a human being but a collection of human body parts attached to one another but lacking the completeness required for human personhood.

    I could be wrong, though. That “seeming” comes from a first, cursory, gut-level assessment of the situation. If certainty is absent, abortion is not permissible. But if one is certain of non-personhood, then the abortion is not in fact “abortion” except in a procedural sense: It is not the killing of a person.

    So the question is this: Is it possible to arrive at a greater certainty than my first-glance gut-level reaction gave? If not, then we remain in the area of uncertainty and the abortion is not morally permissible.

    But there is one thing which inclines me toward certainty: The fact that it was the head which was missing.

    Since becoming a Catholic I have become more aware than before of types and antitypes, of the way the heavens declare the glory of God, of the way marriage is a sacrament and a great mystery mirroring Christ and the Church, of the way the Church is Christ’s body. These parallels are the true, real-er reality which underlies our ephemeral and transitory fallen world.

    It is in that context that I ask: What is humanity without Christ? What would the Church be were Christ to forsake his Mercy and withdraw entirely from humanity, severing any connection? Would humanity not simply be dead, if it lacked the source of life? Does the bride, become a widow, not starve if her husband is not there to feed her the Eucharist? Even atheists take their next breath by the grace of God. Indeed, doesn’t God hold the whole universe together, moment by moment, through the Word of His power? Were He to stop willing its existence, would not all its quanta simply evaporate into nothingness?

    It seems to me then that one cannot separate the Head from the Body without the body being a corpse. Life and Personhood are with the head, or not at all. That, at least, is the spiritual reality. If we believe our physical world was created by God, in part to reflect Him to us, then I don’t see how it could obey rules which were any different.

    Perhaps I have misunderstood the medical condition described above. I am taking it to mean that none of the parts above the neck exist at all. If I haven’t misunderstood that, then — barring a correction from the teaching of the Church, or from a person who knows theology and/or philosophy better than I — I’m fairly confident that such a thing could not be termed a living human being, any more than the Church could be a living Church if Christ, her Head, were entirely absent.

    A missing lung? Still a person! (Just like the Church is still Christ’s body despite our division from the Eastern Churches). Perhaps even a missing heart. But missing head? I can’t see that.

  • Ann

    I don’t believe this story about the headless baby. It just seems like bait to me. JHMO. I believe you received this email, Mr. Shea, please don’t misunderstand, it’s just from that point on that it gets rather unbelievable.

  • Bender

    You mean it is a “gotcha” moment?

    Merely an excuse for someone to argue, well, since you agree that “it” is not a person if there is no head, then how can you claim that life begins at conception since a head is not formed for several weeks after?

    Quite possibly it is such a “gotcha” ploy. Or, even if it did not start out as such, it will be used by some as such who claim for themselves the godlike power to say who is or is not human or worthy of continued life.

  • Mark Shea

    Maybe. But I doubt it. My reader may have his facts wrong. I’m no doctor and couldn’t say. But his purpose was not to entrap me if that’s what you mean. I answered privately some time ago and the conversation was entirely earnest and civil. No gotchas.

  • AT

    Why should a

  • Jerry

    I was moved by this article. Very deep and striking a cord with all things human in the face of our mortal condition and with God’s devine plan for us.

  • Ann

    Bender, I was not referring to the baby as “It”.

    I was using the pronoun “it” to refer to the story/email.

    Thank you for your response Mr. Shea.

  • Ann

    Bender, I think I might have misread your comment, not sure.
    Anyway, I just wanted to clarify in general that I was not referring to this baby as an “it.”

  • Florian

    A baby with no head? no head – no life. If there is no head, then there is no brain, no brain waves which is legal death. No head – surely there must be an error here.

  • paul coffey

    why do you keep referring to the baby boy or girl as an ‘it ‘ as 3rd person singular neutral? I find this use of ‘it’ betrays a much deeper aversion to appreciating this life as an image of ” my Fathers Glory ” …… it seems your valuing the person based on their congruence with what you know and are comfortable with as the human anatomical norm ….. no head? – there must be a brain stem…. having a stroke [ a damaged noodle ] does not eliminate my ability to reason or exercise free will…..

  • Aaron B.

    I went to an anti-abortion presentation that a friend of mine put on for her college ethics class, and one of the first questions that came up in the discussion afterwards was, “My sister had a baby without a brain. What about that, huh? Huh!?” (The discussion didn’t improve much from there.) Whether it was truly without a brain, and could have survived to natural birth that way, I have no idea.

    This is a beautiful article, and I wouldn’t argue with a word of it. But I do think that as medical technology improves, the Church will have to address some detailed questions about the unborn that simply weren’t in play before. As we get better at looking into the womb and seeing what’s going on and fixing problems, that can’t help but strengthen the pro-life side. But it may also bring up more situations like Erin describes, where doctors are able to see that something has gone completely wrong and the baby’s not going to make it and is damaging the mother or a twin. I don’t know how well the theological arguments are developed to handle that.

  • Bender

    No, I wasn’t either, Ann.

    Perhaps I could have been clearer in showing that I was characterizing the other side’s argument.

  • Bender

    . . . the Church will have to address some detailed questions . . .

    Actually, the Church has already addressed those questions, and more. The question of what to do with “anencephalic babies” has been around for quite some time.

    And the answer is the same as with any other baby. There is no need for reinventing the moral wheel here.

    Will these little boys and girls live long outside the womb? No.
    Nearly all of their worldly existence will be lived only within their mother’s womb. And their parents can either choose to love them while they can, while they live in the womb, or they can legally choose to kill them.

    If they choose the latter, it is not an act of mercy, it is not an act of compassion, it is merely an act that is mala in se, the act of intentionally killing an innocent human life.

    Now, killing them is horrific and bad enough. But what is perhaps worse — far worse — is what some here have tried to do, to deny them their very humanity, to deny that they are, in fact, living human beings, to deny them their very souls! That would have the effect, if they had their way, of denying them not only their lives here on earth, but also denying these precious babies eternal life with God!

  • Steve P

    A number of you are probably familiar with the video “99 Balloons”. (You can find it, for example, at Igniter Media.)

    It deals with a couple who learned early on that their baby had Trisomy 18 (sp.?), and that he would not long survive.

    It is touching, poignant, and tackles some of the same questions as what Mark so beautifully did here. Since his opening lines were from a “pastoral” point of view, I think works like these are tremendously helpful.

  • Aaron B.

    Bender, I’m glad to hear that the Church has this situation covered. But I was talking about new questions that will come up thanks to technology.

    Take “vanishing twins” for instance. Thanks to early ultrasounds, we now know that there are more twin conceptions than we realized, but in some cases (1 of 8, according to some specialists) one of the twins fails to develop and is absorbed by the other twin or by the mother. (There’s even a theory that left-handed people are survivors of this situation, having absorbed their mirror-image right-handed twin. That’s not generally accepted, though.) If this happens after the first trimester, it can cause complications for the mother or the other twin.

    As I understand Church teaching (and admittedly I’m no expert), if twins are conceived, each has a soul, and therefore a vanishing twin is a soul dying without baptism just like in an abortion, even if it happens in the first few weeks of gestation. So, what happens if the technology improves to the point where a doctor can look and say, “You’ve got twins, but one has stopped developing and will not survive after birth. There’s a 66% chance that this will cause an infection in you or the other baby.” What’s the right thing to do? Take out the vanishing twin and baptize him quickly before he dies? Leave things alone and pray for the best?

    I’m not saying the Church doesn’t or won’t have answers for these new situations. I just think they’ll get more complicated as the technology improves (though maybe our new health care bill will slow things down on that front), and the correct answer may not always be, “pray a lot and let the baby come to term.”

  • Maureen

    Souls aren’t “manifested” by a brain. Soul and body are connected in every part. My soul is manifested as much by my little finger as by my capacity to write poetry and mouth off in comboxes.

    And if you believe that the soul and body show up together at conception, it’s fairly obvious that any human being that is ever alive and ever has a body, even at a level of only a few cells, has a soul. God’s not miserly about these things.

  • lise

    Dear Weak,

    How do I know that child was a human being ?
    If the child had been without flaws no one would be writing about this.

    When a woman becomes pregnant, and the couple want to raise it, etc,etc everyone is all excited. Baby showers and usually a beautiful little nursery are made.

    When another woman becomes pregnant and she and her husband don’t want the baby it magically turns into a bunch of useless cells.

    Sorry zero logic.

    whether a zygote an embryo or someone about to be born they are all human beings.

  • lise

    Hi Aaron, Technology will continue to expand into many areas of science.

    Technology is created by mankind so it will never be perfect. God will always be perfect.

  • bp

    Is there no occasion where death is a mercy? I know its a slippery slope, but this seems as black and white as its ever going to get. The child had no head. There is zero chance of survival. There is 100% certainty of death and likely abominable suffering by an absolute innocent. Everyone, please, is there no chance that the parents were motivated by compassion?

    I know the arguments here point to “thou shalt not kill”. But even to that, there are exceptions in the Church, aren’t there? There are “just wars” that have happened in our history, ostensibly where some killing in the name of the Church occurred.

    To me it seems the parents were showing mercy. And that the Church has had other occasions where there were clauses when it came to intentional death.

  • Jean Leduc

    This is a very moving and thoughtful post. In 1994 in Saskatchewan, Robert Latimer sat his disabled daughter, Tracy, in the cab of his truck in the garage and killed her by starting the engine and closing the garage door. I vaguely remember a poll done then where a majority of Canadians felt that Latimer acted ‘compassionnately’. Later the Latimer affair came up in conversation where the other party argued strongly for the ‘compassionate’ nature of the killing. The upshot is that too many people take the liberty of judging that some people’s lives are not worth living. The same line of reasoning (as well as motives of greed) was apparent in Terry Sciavo’s case in the US.

  • Bender

    There is zero chance of survival.

    Actually, there was a fairly significant chance at survival while the baby is still in the womb. That is, so long as the womb is a place of life, and not a death chamber.

    It is a false compassion that kills the one it is directed toward. It is a false love that inflicts violence on the loved one. “Compassion” is from the Latin, meaning to “suffer with,” to stand by and care for he who suffers. It does not mean “to chop up in bits.”