What BB keeps discreetly silent about (though perhaps he is just unaware of it) is that within the bosom of the catholic church itself there is a lot of disunity on this subject as there is on the use of contraceptive devices. Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vita that stressed the ‘obligatory” relation between sexuality and procreation and the immorality of using contraceptive devices was based on a minority report (the majority report of the relevant commission was rejected) to begin with.
Not long after Canadian, Dutch and German bishops issued a statement that users of these devices should not be shut off from the church and that these were matters of one’s personal conscience – a point of view that was also inserted in the catechisms brought out by the Dutch and German bishops.
The trouble with the catholic hierarchy riding its theological and ideological hobbyhorses is that it has set itself squarely against basic facts, at the cost of a lot of human suffering particularly in that part of the developing world where the catholic church has a lot of influence.
Because the simple fact is that if abortion cannot be performed legally and safely it will be performed illegally and dangerously.
A report by the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute, published in the October 13 issue of the Lancet, found that global abortion rates are similar regardless of whether a country has restrictive or open reproductive health laws. Worldwide, abortion rates were lowest in Western Europe, where contraceptive services are widespread, and abortion services are legal and accessible.
Wikipedia provides some figures that must be regarded as indicating only the tip of the iceberg because back street abortions and its consequences are in all likelihood only very partially recorded.
Abortion, when induced in the developed world in accordance with local law, is among the safest procedures in medicine. However, unsafe abortions (those performed by persons without proper training or outside of a medical environment) result in approximately 70 thousand maternal deaths and 5 million disabilities per year globally.
One can safely assume that most of these victims are to be found in the developing world. I read that thus far in three Lain American countries abortion has been made illegal under any circumstances.
Catholic women in the developing world are probably far less likely to be affected by the Church’s official stance on these matters.
If I can believe the figures provided by an American organization called Catholics for Choice only a minority of American catholics (14% in fact) agreed with the Vatican’s position that abortion should be illegal. A study of almost 9,500 women apparently showed that in the US catholic women have abortions at the same rate as other women.