- The Washington Times - Friday, August 16, 2013

Update: Catholic Education Daily has provided a correction to their story.The article inaccurately stated that Charles Camosy posed a question about whether or not direct abortion could be justified if the unborn child is deemed “an unjust aggressor.”  Rather, Camosy wrote “innocent aggressor.”

Fordham theology professor Charles Camosy wants to know: Are unborn children ever worthy of the distinction “innocent aggressor”? If so, would not a mother who chooses to abort the “aggressor” be justified in her actions?

The professor posed the question on a Catholic website in response to a 2010 declared ex-communication of a nun who approved of an abortion in a Phoenix hospital, Lifesitenews.com reports.


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Mr. Camosy wrote:

“The Church can do better,” he writes. If Catholics want to appear “coherent and sensitive” when arguing against abortion, he argues, they should “revisit some ideas that have been largely unexplored, and perhaps prematurely shut down” — such as whether a child in the womb can be regarded an “innocent aggressor,” which might justify the use of lethal force to protect the mother when her life is in danger.

“I am not ‘arguing for the direct targeting of the unborn child as an aggressor.’ I’m asking us to explore why, if at all, we should treat the cases [of innocent aggression] … differently from a prenatal child who threatens her mother’s life.”

Mr. Camosy also likened unborn children facing developmental circumstances that threaten a mother’s life to individuals threatened by “brainwashed, eight-year-old child soldiers”:

“Can we use deadly force in response to deadly violence from these individuals if they are threatening our lives and/or the lives of innocent others? Both the tradition (and common sense) seems to answer in the affirmative. But then why isn’t this same kind of reasoning applied to a prenatal child who is threatening the life of her mother? Is it simply because we imagine ‘bioethics’ to be in a different category than ‘war and peace’ with different methodologies? Or is there a different reason? Some say that Pius XI shut down conversation about this in Casti Connubii when he said (in #64) that the child is not an ‘unjust aggressor.’ Fair enough. But the same can be said of all three examples above. It could certainly be the case that a person is formally innocent, but nevertheless an aggressor to which one could justly respond with deadly force.

“And if we can use this reasoning in the cases above, why can’t we use this reasoning in the case of the innocent prenatal child threatening her mother’s life? Is this wrongheaded thinking?”