Catholic teaching and pastoral response to abortion
Unborn human beings are members of the human family from the moment of conception:
...from the time that the ovum is fertilised, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already. This has always been clear, and ... modern genetic science offers clear confirmation. It has demonstrated that from the first instant there is established the programme of what this living being will be: a person, this individual person with his characteristic aspects already well determined. (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 12-13)
Every human being is precious, from the very beginning of his or her life, until natural death.
Therefore, direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. (cf. The Gospel of Life, 62) Irrespective of whether it occurs as the result of a procedure or a medication, soon after conception or much later in the pregnancy, the deliberate and direct killing of the unborn unjustly deprives a human being of the opportunity to grow and develop and experience all that life on earth has to offer.
Human life is sacred and inviolable at every moment of existence, including the initial phase which precedes birth. All human beings, from their mothers' womb, belong to God who searches them and knows them, who forms them and knits them together with his own hands, who gazes on them when they are tiny shapeless embryos and already sees in them the adults of tomorrow whose days are numbered and whose vocation is even now written in the 'book of life' (cf. Ps 139: 1, 13-16). (The Gospel of Life, 61)
Even where pregnancy poses grave difficulties and evokes tremendous uncertainty and fear, there is always a better alternative to abortion. There is always another way forward - but no woman should have to take this path alone. This is why the Church emphasises the importance of supporting mothers and fathers in the choice to continue with an unplanned or difficult pregnancy.
What about women who do choose abortion? The Church is here for them as well, ready to extend forgiveness, hope and healing.
The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains wrong but do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. (The Gospel of Life, 99)