However, they continued, it is not licit to take the life of the unborn even in these circumstances. “Neither the life of the mother nor that of the child can be the object of a direct act of elimination. There is only one option for both one and the other: every effort must be made to save both lives, that of the mother and that of the child,” the bishops said.
“This does not signify opposition, however, to licit therapeutic actions to cure the mother of some illness, even if that implies a certain risk—even lethal—to the unborn child. A therapeutic action that benefits the mother and that unintentionally puts the life of the unborn in danger should not be confused with the direct elimination of the unborn child,” the bishops added.
A developing unborn child is not part of a woman’s body, but rather is a distinct and separate being, the bishops emphasized. While the mother’s feelings are deserving of care and respect, they noted, “no feeling must given more importance than the right to life of every human being, whether healthy or sick.
“This is the first of all human rights without which no others exist,” they said.
The bishops urged society to provide “psychological, social, economic and spiritual help” to mothers. “The level of development of a community is measured by its capacity to care for the weak and the sick,” they added.
“A society that eliminates them allows violence to become the way in which conflicts are resolved, thus becoming a dictatorship in which the strongest end up deciding the fate of the weakest. No one has the right to assume the power of deciding who deserves to live and who doesn’t,” the bishops concluded.