From the consideration of mercy as compassion for another's misery S. Thomas
Aquinas deduces that one feels sympathy for this misery insofar as one
considers it to be one's own.
By mercy we mean sickness, the lack of material means, and in general all
that degrades human dignity. The contribution to a legislation that favours divorce
or abortion signifies contributing to the degradation of society by destroying the
principIe on which rests the family, the education of man himself, and the
respect that human life of itself deserves. Once the objective idea of good has
been lost, man commences to deny his own right to life. Having abandoned mercy
towards his neighbour, man loses his human condition and becomes incapable of
love even towards himself. This loss makes itself felt at once in the injustice
of a society that refuses to acknowledge an ordinatio rationis, and this soeiety
will see itself threatened by disorder in its very foundations. Once the sense of
mercy among men has be en lost, their relations beeome dominated by the exaltation
of sex and the approval of individual violence as a legitimate means of
redressing wrongs or simply of satisfying one's desires. Society finds itself
ineapable of putting an end to these exeesses because it laeks a legitimate reason.
Individual violence can in turn give rise to legal violence. For this reason it is
unlawful to partieipate in the legalization of something that, through laek of goodness,
ought to be eondemned. Neither respeet for the opinion of others, nor
the majority view, nor the desire to give legal expression to something which,
though unaeeeptable, may in this manner be better controlled, can permit aman
who seeks justice to take part in any way in the establishing of a law that
is in essenee unjust. And this is so not out of any eonsideration of self-proteetion,
always an egóistic motive, but rather for altruistic reasons. One's attitude of
resistance should be based on the demands made by one's own conseience not
to go against the dictates of reason, and on the demands of justice with respeet
to one's neighbour.
If merey towards one's neighbour is a refleetion of that love whieh man of his
nature feels towards himself, then the just man can never desire something for
his fellow (although it be only for reasons of eonvenienee) if he considers it
essentially bad for himself. And so neither may he contribute in any way to
the legalization of an injustice of this kind.