Here’s my thinking:
- My suspicion is that the population of the North American and European Church — or pretty much the Church in any developed country — would diminish to a small portion of its current size. I suspect that’s why this would never happen. Of course, that, and the fact that Segregationism was a social practice, thus more easily detected and repudiated; abortion, as a medical procedure, is performed in isolation, and is not so easily detectable. This is why the focus thus far has been on abortionists and not on the large numbers of Catholics who have few or no problems with abortion. strategically, it doesn’t make sense since this excommunication cannot be enforced by any means… and because those Catholics who disagree with this part of Church doctrine are unlikely to take excommunication seriously, either. It’s kind of like excommunicating all gays — you’re more likely to annoy all gays, or provoke their mockery, since (a) most of them have already left of their own accord, and (b) the few who remain likely won’t be convinced no matter what’s said or done, and certainly won’t be if they’re offended and “cast out”.
- I suspect that to too many people whose lives are dedicated to the following and furthering of Jesus’ teachings, this smacks too much of playing God in a kind of hurried-up Final Judgment. After all, isn’t excommunication something that got used mostly during the time when the Church was defending its socio-political domination of Europe? What does the Church have to gain by exercising this kind of power over people at a given state in their lives — say, a week from next Thursday — and thereby closing its doors on them? As any good Catholic ought to know, people can change their minds, their ways of living. Since this change of heart — “repentance” — remains possible, it stands to reason that excommunication on the grounds of a mere opinion is wrongful and overkill… and will look silly to much of the outside world, as well, which won’t help.
- Following after #2, doesn’t it make sense, even as a remote possibility, that the Vatican would exercise caution in its decrees of excommunication because not to do so would be arrogant? I mean, follow the slippery slope: if it becomes possible to excommunicate people for differing on the grounds of this or that doctrine, then it becomes possible to excommunicate people on grounds of other doctrines. This opens the door to the dismantling of the Church by those who are elected as agents of the Church. This would even be more dangerous that a priest who who showed sympathy to pro-abortion views, because it would open the very dangerous door to abuse of Church powers — something that in fact has happened in the past, as anyone who knows Church/European history is aware. Caution is a very good self-control safeguard against this kind of slippery slope.
There you are. I think those are three (or two-and-a-half, at least) very straightforward reasons why the Church wouldn’t excommunicate pro-abortionists.
By the way, I’m still thinking vaguely about writing an SF novel centering on a low-ranking cleric going through something like this on a some kind of Catholic generation-ship crossing the galaxy, and about what kind of doctrinal change would have happened by the time he is born on this ship — and what kind of doctrinal change would have happened in the relativistically-diverged Church back on Earth. Pro-choice, according to this article at The Revealer, is the official stance of lots of Christian churches. Is it so unimaginable that one branch of The Catholic Church might come to accept some version of contraception, someday far in the future? Such shifts haven’t been unheard-of in the past.