St. John Paul II believed the key issues behind the abortion debate were the degradation of the sexual act and the idea that children are an obstacle to happiness.
Abortion is a hotly debated topic in our modern culture, but one that has some key underlying issues. According to St. John Paul II, those issues revolve around the degradation of the sexual act and an idea that children are obstacles to happiness.
He explained his thoughts in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae.
[I]n very many other instances such practices [abortion and contraception] are rooted in a hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and they imply a self-centered concept of freedom, which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal fulfillment. The life which could result from a sexual encounter thus becomes an enemy to be avoided at all costs, and abortion becomes the only possible decisive response to failed contraception.
The sexual act has become removed from its original place in marriage and has been distorted, turned into an act of selfish pleasure.
[S]exuality too is depersonalized and exploited: from being the sign, place and language of love, that is, of the gift of self and acceptance of another, in all the other’s richness as a person, it increasingly becomes the occasion and instrument for self-assertion and the selfish satisfaction of personal desires and instincts. Thus the original import of human sexuality is distorted and falsified, and the two meanings, unitive and procreative, inherent in the very nature of the conjugal act, are artificially separated.
With this selfish view of sexuality, the natural fruit of the marital embrace is seen as an “enemy” and must be eliminated from the picture.
How can we address these issues?
St. John Paul II believed that the only way to adequately address these issues underlying abortion is to promote an authentic view of sexuality, as as his foundational Theology of the Body.
Sexuality, which enriches the whole person, “manifests its inmost meaning in leading the person to the gift of self in love.” The trivialization of sexuality is among the principal factors which have led to contempt for new life. Only a true love is able to protect life. There can be no avoiding the duty to offer, especially to adolescents and young adults, an authentic education in sexuality and in love, an education which involves training in chastity as a virtue which fosters personal maturity and makes one capable of respecting the “spousal” meaning of the body.
If we want abortion to be truly abolished from this earth, we must address the underlying issues of abortion and educate our young people about the God-given beauty of their sexuality.