Following on the post below about confession, let's take two test cases and work out the moral implications of both.
Beth is a 45 year old lawyer working in New York City. Before joining the bar she graduated from Notre Dame with an M.A. in theology. Disgusted with the Church's historical ill-treatment of women, she leaves the Catholic Church and becomes a Unitarian. While working in NYC she becomes sexually involved with one of her legal associates and gets pregnant. Knowing that she is soon to be made a partner in her firm, and knowing that her pregnancy might detrimentally influence her promotion, she acquires an abortion.
Sue is a 13 year old schoolgirl living in Chicago. Though very bright and academically accomplished, she must attend the local public school because her unemployed single-mother cannot afford private school tuition. The school she attends is notorious for gang violence. Sue does her best to avoid trouble, but often becomes embroiled in the local gang activity. She has had no religious instruction other than a general introduction to spiritual ideas via the mass media. On her way home from school one day, she is violently raped. She becomes pregnant. Because of her family's poverty and Sue's young age, her mother decides that Sue must have an abortion. Though she doesn't want the abortion, she complies out of deference to her mother. She has the abortion.
Keeping in mind that an act can be considered a mortal sin only if the act is gravely serious, done with the full knowledge that the act is sinful, and done with deliberate consent, can we say that Beth and Sue have committed mortal sins? If so, to what degree is each culpable (guilty) or not? [NB. ALL three conditions mentioned above must be met. The absence of any one of the three renders the act non-mortal.]
Applicable Church teaching:
According to Church teaching some acts are always morally evil by their very nature, meaning that circumstance and intention do not change the intrinsically evil nature of these acts. Abortion is always a morally evil act. But the question here is: are the morally evil acts committed by Beth and Sue mortally sinful? [Bonus question: are all intrinsically morally evil acts sinful--mortal or not?]
Though circumstance and intent may not count in determining whether or not morally evil act is indeed evil, both can be considered in assigning culpability if the evil act counts as a mortal sin.
The evidence you have here is the only relevant evidence. Do not assume any other facts (e.g., the availability of abortion alternatives, etc.).
Your answers. . .? [Lots of excellent answers in the combox. . .keep 'em coming!]