THERE is no contradiction between the Church's teaching on abortion and her teaching on contraception, says the Social Welfare Commission in new evidence submitted to the House of Commons Select Cornmittee on Abortion this week.
The Commission, the of ficial Catholic representative at the committee's
hearings, was answering Mr Leo Abse, MP, who
suggested that reasonable alternatives to abortion were the publication of better family planning advice and more easily available contraception.
At the hearing of the committee on March 26 Mr Leo Abse said he did not find the Catholic Church very helpful on this point: and the delegation led by Bishop Harris, President of the Social Welfare Commission, and Archbishop Winning of Glasgow, promised to make further written submissions to clarify the Church's attitude.
The commission's new submission, which was circulated to the members of the Select. Committee on Monday, says that there is no proof, statistical or otherwise, that more available contraception means fewer abortions.
"For instance," it says, "in countries where permissive legislation on abortion has been introduced ... the abortion rate
remained steady in spite of the increased availability of contraception.
"The increased availability of contraception and contraception advice has not, in fact, been matched by a comparable decrease in abortions."
The document makes a cursory distinction between abortion, the killing of life, and contraception, the prevention of life, and remarks: "Because it is more obviously hostile to life, abortion arouses stronger opposition than does contraception."
There is then a lengthy discussion of marriage which puts the issues of abortion and contraception in the context of "life-giving" or "lifedestroying" mentalities.
"Abortion is unacceptable precisely because it is life
destroying, anti-life. What is sometimes called t he 'contraceptive mentality' is also anti-life."
The document makes a further distinction. "Quite different to this 'contraception mentality' is rightly motivated birth control." But there is no distinction drawn between "artificial" and "natural" methods of birth control.
The criteria, the document says, is whether a couple's "way of love-making contradicts in any way the love and respect they are endeavouring to expr'ess to each other. Does it promote theirgrowth as persons or does it diminish them in any way?"
Stating that Hamanae Vitae, the encyclical on birth control,
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is understood against the background of the Council and reiterates the traditional teaching, the document Quotes from Gaudium et Spes which urges parents to consider various factors in deciding the size of their family.
In its final paragraph the document says there are situations in which married couples cannot both attain to the full ideal in love-making and cope with the material, social and spiritual demands being made upon them.
"The reliability of rightly motivated birth control may be difficult. Each of these cases must be dealt with sympathetically, but the Church requires that., whatever their practical decision may be, the partners in marriage must be sincerely pursuing the truth and cultivating a positive, pro-life mentality."
The Select Committee is due to report its findings later this month, but since the "resignation" of six of its members on the grounds that there was no need to investigate the workings of the abortion law, it is not known how great its effect will be on the thinking of the House of Commons.
Last week the Methodist Conference rejected abortion on demand and pressed for responsible decisions and counselling for all those requesting abortion.
At the annual meeting of the representatives of ministers and laity, the Methodists said that the early foetus must not be aborted without serious cause, and that women seeking abortions should be counselled on alternatives.
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