Abortion: Forgiveness & Other (Often-Ignored) Points in the Debate

Guided by Christ, the Catholic Church is pro-life. In other words, the Church does not support abortion.  However, in the often-heated debate on this topic, here are some points that are often missed and which Catholic Christians should try to highlight with compassion:  love, mercy, prayer and concrete support

  1. Forgiveness

We must preach about the mercy of God when we spread the pro-life message. While we should not dilute the pro-life message, we must also emphasize that God is waiting to forgive those who may have carried out, participated in, or encouraged abortion. Pope Francis has improved access to mercy and reconciliation for this purpose.  Christ wipes away all sins, no matter what type it is; as long as you are contrite and sincerely ask for forgiveness. 

If you are in this position, meaning you have participated in or encouraged an abortion, all is not lost. Go to Confession at the earliest opportunity. Christ is waiting for you, to heal you. Once healed, read the following and help to promote life. Your experience would become an asset for the pro-life mission of God. 

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2. Women Suffer Tremendously

While abortion is often framed as empowerment, many women who have participated in abortions suffer tremendously and in silence. The psychological trauma on these women is often not highlighted (enough or at all) when abortion is suggested to women. Many women struggle for years with guilt, shame and pain. This pain and its potentially traumatizing effects should be studied more and shared with women thinking of abortion. It is their right to know of all the risks of the procedure including future risks to their overall health and wellbeing. Any woman suffering in this regard, should reach out to organizations like Rachel’s vineyard which work to heal women (and men) from this suffering. 

3. Discrimination Against People with Disabilities

Babies with disabilities are often aborted. The message being sent out here to children and adults with disabilities is that, we do not think your life’s worth living because you have impairments. We do not wish to or we have decided that we cannot support you because you have impairments etc. Aborting a baby due to perceived impairment has also taken the lives of babies that were misdiagnosed. Abortion based on disability or perceived disability says a lot about how we see people with disabilities – even though our mouths often say otherwise. 

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4. The Fetus is More than a Clump of Cells

The fetus is a small person. Like a 10-month-old child, the fetus is completely dependent on another for her survival. If you feed and care for her long enough, she will grow into a full person. There is no real difference between the 10-month-old child and a fetus. Both are fully dependent on another person. Both are “clumps of cells” that would die if they are not given proper food or shelter. 

Also, there are studies (such as this) showing that fetuses, even before 24 weeks of gestation, may feel pain in the womb. This is a very disturbing point given that most people would choose not to inflict pain if they could.  This underscores the need to present women with all the information available so they can make informed decisions.

5. No Where Else to Go

The womb of a woman is the only place for a fetus to live. If the fetus had another place to live, she could go there or be placed there. However, the fetus, especially those less than 6 months, have no other viable place to live. 

Therefore, the womb of a mother and the body of a pregnant woman, are not only the property of the woman but also the property of the baby who is innocent and with no habitable options. To attribute the body of a pregnant woman to her life alone, without factoring-in the life of the baby, is to ignore the magnificent life-giving work that she is doing. It is to diminish the reality of what is going on. It is to tell ourselves a lie – a costly one.

6. Two Bodies

A woman has the right to her body.  There is no viable reason not to apply the same right to a female fetus. She too has a right to her body. The process of abortion destroys her body and contradicts the first statement that a woman has the right to her body.  Both the body of the woman and the body of the baby should be protected to avoid this contradiction especially where life is at stake.

7. Father’s Rights

Men contribute half of the genetic material needed to create a fetus. They are also (in many countries) legally liable for the welfare of the baby once born, whether they are still with the mother of the child or not.  Fairness requires that the fathers should have a right in this debate given the lifetime consequences it could bear on them. However, the views of fathers are often ignored. We rarely hear about the side of the men who disagree with an abortion and are willing to provide child support. Yet, these men exist (For example, read more  here).

8. Gifts & Blessings

Abortion prevents blessings meant for the baby, and for the world. Every person was endowed with gifts by God, even before their conception. Yes, even that baby conceived by rape or other criminal act. (God does not interfere in human choices but actively tries to rectify the evil we do.) 

There are prolife advocates who were conceived from rape and who are contributing immensely to this world (For instance, Ryan Bomberger).

Steve Jobs was given up for abortion by his young mother who had a crisis pregnancy. Imagine the world without Apple products.  Apple is arguably an entity that only Steve Jobs was empowered to create in the way he did. After all, there was only one Steve Jobs.  Today, Apple products are not merely a technological luxury. They serve people in various ways including through a zoom technology that revolutionized the world for people with visual impairments. 

9. Innocent People

If you participate in an act that caused the conception of a baby, the only innocent party is the baby and she should not be punished for that act. 

If the baby was conceived out of rape or other criminal act, there becomes two innocent parties: the mother and the baby. None of these innocent parties should be forced to suffer. None of them are more innocent than the other. Both should be cared for and supported. The baby in such cases, although conceived in a terrible way, deserves the opportunity of  life.  Heroic mothers, like the mother of Ryan Bomberger, have given up for adoption, their babies that were born from rape. Also, heroic mothers like Chiara Corbella Petrillo  rejected cancer treatments to give her baby life. These heroines should be celebrated more often to show the world what true heroes look like and the wide range of options for women in crisis pregnancies with added difficulties of illness and rape.

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10. Invest in Pregnancy Resource Centres

All societies should invest in support of women in crisis pregnancies. This will give more women the option of having their children with counselling and various support systems in place. Currently there is far easier access to, and availability of abortion than supportive care to choose life for the baby. This imbalance means that there is no true choice for women. However, this can change with your support to the crisis pregnancy centre in your community. Look them up and support them today.

…….

We ask Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared as a pregnant woman to Juan Diego, to intercede for all of us so that we will all support each other in doing what is right, even when it is very difficult. We pray for forgiveness and healing for all of us who have deeply hurt one another in this debate. We pray above all for the healing of mothers who feel the guilt and shame and wish to reconcile with God. We ask God to strengthen them to be his ambassadors as they choose to go forward, on the path for Life. 

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