There are fundamental principles of morality which apply to every act in every circumstance. Here is a list of some of the fundamental principles of morality:
- Every act has at least one moral object, and every moral object is either good or evil
- The moral object of an act is defined as the “proximate end of a deliberate decision which determines the act of willing on the part of the acting person” rather than “a process or an event of the merely physical order, to be assessed on the basis of its ability to bring about a given state of affairs in the outside world” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 78)
- The moral object of an act exists independent of the intention and the specific circumstances of the act
- Every action that has at least one evil moral object is intrinsically evil, and every action that does not have an evil moral object is not intrinsically evil
- Every intrinsically evil act has at least one evil moral object and is always morally wrong, regardless of the intention or the specific circumstances of an act
- The moral object of an intrinsically evil act cannot be changed by a good intention or the ability to bring about a good consequence
- The intention is the purpose for which an act is committed, and exists within the acting subject
- A bad intention always makes an act morally wrong, even if the act in question would be morally good when committed without any bad intentions
- For an act to be morally good, the act cannot be intrinsically evil, the act must be committed with only good intentions, and the good consequences must be reasonably anticipated to outweigh the bad consequences
The fundamental moral principles listed above are based on the Catholic Church’s view on morality. There are non-Catholics who believe in moral principles similar to those listed above. The above moral principles are principles of divine law and natural law which apply to all persons, regardless of one’s religious affiliation or religious beliefs.
Direct abortion, which is defined as the deliberate, direct killing of an unborn child in a manner that is inherently ordered towards causing his or her death, is always intrinsically evil, is always a grave violation of divine law, is always a grave violation of natural law, and always offends against an unborn child’s inviolable right to life. An otherwise direct abortion that is performed for the purposes of saving the life of the mother or preserving the health of the mother is still a direct abortion since the act in question is still inherently ordered towards causing the death of an unborn child. On the other hand, an indirect abortion is an act other than direct abortion that indirectly causes the death of an unborn child. An indirect abortion is not inherently ordered towards causing the death of an unborn child, but rather is inherently ordered towards a different end.
The directly intended termination of pregnancy prior to the point of viability, including the direct removal of the body of an unborn child and the directly induced explusion of the body of an unborn child, constitute a direct abortion because these actions are inherently ordered towards causing the death of an unborn child who is incapable of survival outside of the womb. Any abortion procedure that involves the active killing of an unborn child prior to its removal from his or her mother’s body or the direct physical destruction of the body of an unborn child in a manner that is fatal to the unborn child also constitute a direct abortion. On the other hand, the removal of a diseased part of a mother’s body to which the body of the unborn baby is attached and that also indirectly terminates a pregnancy, such as the removal of a cancerous womb during a pregnancy or the removal of a portion of the mother’s fallopian tube that is diseased in an ectopic pregnancy, would be a case of indirect abortion.
An unintentional miscarriage that is caused from non-reproductive surgery that is performed on the mother or the administration of medication whose primary effect is not causing the termination of pregnancy would not constitute a direct abortion. First, the unintentional miscarriage in these cases arise from an act whose moral object is different from that of direct abortion. Second, the death of the unborn child is an unintended bad consequence that was not willed. Third, the means used to saving the life of the mother or preserving the health of the mother in these cases is not the termination of pregnancy, but rather a non-reproductive surgical procedure or the administration of medication.
In addition to being intrinsically evil, a direct abortion would also be a violation of medical ethics, especially in cases where the pregnancy itself does not pose a danger to the life of the mother and does not pose a significant danger to the health of the mother. There are doctors who advise pregnant women to undergo a direct abortion for the purposes of preserving the health of the mother, saving the life of the mother, or getting rid of a defective baby, and giving this advise is intrinsically evil, formal cooperation in the sin of direct abortion, and unethical under the principles of medical ethics. Furthermore, the advise given by these doctors can often be wrong, especially in cases where the pregnant woman can safely carry the pregnancy to term.