Civil Law and Canon Law on Abortion
What is the civil law on abortion and is this at odds with the Roman Catholic canon law?
Introduction The word abortion comes from the Latin ’aboriri’ meaning to miscarry, where pregnancy ends too soon and the baby dies. The Abortion debate has become one of the most divisive and contentious issues of our time. Garlikov is of the opinion that once those for or against abortion reflect with more rationality,they will discover that they have more common ground than expected.1 This essay seeks to engage in the continuing debate about the states legal enforcement of morals in relation to abortion. Furthermore this will be contrasted with both the Roman Catholic and Anglican norms of canon law. In this respect Jeremy2 has marked out some important areas in his historical and contemporary analysis, which has highlighted different approaches to morality. A fundamental question is whether abortion is wrong, and if so is this sufficient reason for legal prohibition. Alternatively are there, as Dustan says, first order principles and second order rules, to allow for the varying shades of moral action within this moral dilemma.3 In contrast to the absolutist view of prohibition, liberal society reflects the view of Mill that ‘no conduct should be suppressed unless it can be shown to harm someone.’4 Any understanding of the present civil law on abortion needs to be set in its sociological, historical and philosophical context. A further dimension is the influence of Roman and Canon Law on the development of English Common Law. Here the reader is referred to the work of Belcher and others for more detailed information.5 Any analysis of civil law must therefore be set within the context of both the Roman Catholic and Anglican canonical provisions, to elucidate any convergence or divergence. However, whilst the ecclesiastical law of the Church of England is part of the wider common law of the
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