On the heels of the implementation of a new abortion law in Spain that declares abortion as a right, allows unrestricted abortions performed during the first fourteen weeks of a pregnancy, and lowers the age of required parental consent for abortion to fifteen, Archbishop Francisco Gil Hellín of Burgos has published a statement urging Spanish Catholics to civil disobedience of the law:

Let us diagnose it with total clarity: this law is no law, although it is presented as such by some political and legislative bodies. And it isn’t because no one has the right to eliminate an innocent. For that reason, it doesn’t obligate. Even more, it demands a head-on opposition without reservation. Right reason cannot admit as a right the killing of an innocent person . . . . It is a fallacy to affirm that this law has been approved by the majority of the Parliament and that this represents the majority of the citizens, or to say that if the Constitutional Tribunal decrees its conformity [with the Constitution] it would be disobedience to oppose it, and would deserve a punishment. The fallacy consists in attributing to politicians, judges, or citizens a right that they don’t have, and no one has the right to legislate that an innocent can be killed.

It’s not clear to me why any Spanish Catholics would find themselves in the position of having to disobey the law. From what I have read, the law does not explicitly require doctors to perform abortions—though it does set the stage for a clash between the right of conscientious objectors and the newly found right to an abortion. The archbishop’s words do seem to reflect, as John Allen wrote a few weeks ago, the Church’s growing perception of herself as a minority. Recounting recent events, Allen noted:
The police raids in Belgium, the refusal by the Supreme Court in the United States to block a sex abuse lawsuit against the Vatican, and the European Court of Human Rights challenge to display of Catholic symbols in Italy all suggest that the final pillars of deference by civil authorities to the Catholic church are crumbling . . . . A growing band of Catholic opinion, certainly reflected in the Vatican, believes that a ‘tipping point’ has been reached in the West, in which secular neutrality toward the church, especially in Europe, has shaded off into hostility and, sometimes, outright persecution.

Articles by Meghan Duke

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