This is adapted from a comment I made in ‘The Modern Holocaust‘ post.
If abortion is the modern holocaust, can one do what the Americans did to the Nazis, and abort the abortionist? Weelll, let’s see…
When I equate abortion to the holocaust, it comes with the broadened correlation normal in a comparison, but I think it’s a fair analogy. When judging a moral act, there are three aspects in consideration, all of which contribute to the morality of it: object (the objective act itself), end (subjective intent) and circumstance (context and factors which situate it in degree and quality). Objectively speaking, yes, the acts involved are comparable; it involves, like the Nazi holocaust, the killing of innocent human beings. Subjectively speaking, it can vary to an extent; women who choose abortion are often taught to think of the baby as part of her body (which is scientifically erroneous, as you are aware from the difference in DNA, blood type, etc.). Circumstance does not play such a great part here, since it deals with an intrinsically evil act in its object – it’s always wrong no matter how, when, or where it’s done.
Now, in relation to the use of violence, the use of violence is always the last resort, usually in the form of self-defence, in order to preserve innocent life in face of an unjust aggressor. Even though abortion would qualify in the self-defence category, it would not seem to fulfill others that the Nazi case would have. These can be enumerated under the ‘just war’ theory (CCC #2309):
– The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
– the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
– all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
– there must be serious prospects of success;
– the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
So, can one abort an abortionist? Although it is not intrinsically impermissible (for the sake of defending the innocent life of the child – not for the sake of wanting the abortionist abortion!), there are no present situations in which this would be ethical.
In any case, the exhortation for Christians remains, as always: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12:21)