Abortion…And The Pain in Our Society

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cryAbortion is one of those topics that make people really, really uncomfortable.  Nothing destroys the conversation at a pleasant weekend barbeque more instantly than talk of the morality of abortion. A couple of incidences recently made me consider why it might be that the topic is so divisively painful and I thought they were worth sharing.

If you approach a train station on a weekday afternoon, chances are you will have a complimentary copy of the MX newspaper flung into your hands. There are regularly articles in the MX commenting on moral/ethical issues so I often text in a couple of sentences for the feedback pages. A while ago I sent in a comment regarding a story they ran about hundreds of mothers in India giving their baby girls sex change operations to make them males. I questioned which was worse, the goings on in India, or, the 90,000 annual abortions taking place in Australia. The message was published and expectedly attracted a barrage of messages both for and against abortion. To the credit of the newspaper they published messages on both sides for several days and in those days there was a definite progression of thought. Initially there were angry messages that the ‘foetus’ is not a human life, following that there were messages from others outlining how science unequivocally states that the unborn baby is indeed human. And lastly there were messages which stated that even if the unborn baby was ‘human’ it was certainly not a ‘person’. In reading the messages what struck me was the length people would go to justify the notion that abortion could somehow be acceptable.

The second incident was also a few months ago when the director of Family Life International Australia, Paul, was taking calls on a popular talkback station about the work they do in praying and offering material support outside abortion clinics. One woman named Sarah, called in to speak to him. She was obviously angry at what was being said and she explained that she was now a mother of three children but before she was married she fell pregnant and was simply “not ready to be a mother”. As part of his response, Paul pointed out to Sarah that actually she became a mother with that first pregnancy and that she was in fact the mother of four children. It was obvious that with those words Paul had struck a chord Sarah and Sarah’s voice because audibly upset as she rejected the notion that she was the mother of an aborted child.

What became obvious in both those incidences was how raw the issue is in our society and how much people will do what they can to block out the reality. It truly is the unspoken about elephant in the room. Even though there is a lack of consistent data around abortions numbers it is estimated that just since 1994, there have been close to 1.3 million abortions in Australia. This means there is on average one aborted baby for every three babies born.

What that figure of 1.3 million equals is a lot of hurt in our society, it equals a whole lot of people who have been touched by an abortion. That is a lot of mothers (and a lot of fathers) who may be feeling a whole lot of sorrow, guilt and hurt. Is it little wonder then that so many people in society need to (indeed have to) for their own mental well being, deny that abortion is actually the death of a young human life? Can you imagine if 1.3 million mothers interiorised that the foetus they aborted yesterday, last month or 40 years ago was a human life with a beating heart, active brain and living soul? The grief in the streets would be unbearable. Australia’s total war dead is around 100,000 yet every year we lose close to that many Australians through abortion. I can’t help but wonder how many of 12 million anti-depressant scripts written each year in Australia are linked somehow to this silent tragedy.

The point is that condemnation of the objective act of abortion must always be swiftly followed by the mention of the subjective healing that is possible and available for those who have had an abortion. Abortion will always be wrong – the taking of an innocent human life can never be justified – but sadly, the baby is not the only life that is affected. Thankfully there are groups such as Rachel’s Vineyard which offer healing for the many hurting men and women who have been touched by abortion and suffer in some way with what is now referred to as post-abortion syndrome. We can only hope that those who suffer will seek out and undertake the necessary healing for their own well being and future happiness.

Bernard Toutounji

Bernard Toutounji

Bernard Toutounji is an Australian Catholic writer and speaker. He writes a fortnightly column called Foolish Wisdom (www.foolishwisdom.com) which examines afresh issues within news, culture or faith. One of Bernard’s favourite quotes comes from Edith Stein who said "All those who seek truth seek God whether this is clear to them or not". Bernard is married to Jane and they have two daughters.

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15 Responses

  1. Concerning the prospects of the potential million or so suffering from depression
    over the regret of having had an abortion: it is very possible the demonization by the hard right is culpable in so far that they have been pubicly condemned as murderers and that in itself could be the source of their clinical state. Another
    facet to Francis’ call to not focus exclusively on this one tragedy.

  2. It is very possible that the large number of people who have had an abortion and
    are now in a clinically depressed state could be happening and is most likely severely aggrevated by the hard right pubicly calling them murderers. Hence, Francis’ call to tone down the focus.

    1. The secular media are spinning the Holy Father’s words in informal interviews to promote that idea. He is not toning anything down. From Evangelii Gaudium:

      ” Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays, efforts are being made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present Her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development.”

      I wonder why this bit never got mentioned?

      1. Because it is and always will be obvious to the world vis a vis the CC. The tiny bit about focusing on other church missions is valid
        too. I did not mean to imply that his stance is anything but classic. My response to the above blog was to connect dots. Francis may
        or not have had that in mind but it certainly is a psychological factor in what BT has pointed out.

      2. I am so tired of these lame jedi mind tricks you use to suggest ideas with a slight of hand without just coming out and saying what you really believe and want.

      3. People are free to form media businesses whether secular or religious, and there’s nothing you or I can do about that. Now let’s leave the subject. Go in peace

    2. One can’t be wrong for reminding his brother of the truth.

      Suppose your brother is a murderer, and in order to respect his feelings and not to get “awkward” with him you become condescending with his crime. You tell him that he had no choice, that everyone makes mistakes, that he should just get over that.

      But if I know conscience well enough, the wrong doing often comes back
      and stings the perpetrator. But as he was never provided with the truth,
      never heard it from anyone, he has no strength to face his wrongdoings,
      to kneel and ask for forgiveness, to cry out his contrite heart. So he shuts his conscience up, time and time again, so that the blood on his hands is never washed off by the blood of the Lamb.

      And so great a comfort do you provide him that this man may never repent of his sin, never seek the Lord for forgiveness, and thus never know the one thing that would truly enable him to move on and make his burden light, which is the mercy of God.

      1. Point taken sir. Hypothetically however, it begs a question. If one knew calling a person a murderer would result in that person going out and taking their own life or living a life subject to episodes of depression, would one then be guilty of murder or mind maiming ? I’m not sure Jesus would approve that kind of avoidable collateral damage when entreats of a different nature are available. After all, murder it is a subjective term relative to the protester..

      2. I understand your point. Making someone aware of sin without making him aware of mercy may drive him to despair, which is the worst destiny a soul may have.

        In such situation all prudence and care would be necessary regarding the best way to convey the truth (something which certainly excludes “you did nothing wrong”) and, of course, preaching the Good News. Following up which such person afterwards and caring for her are also in order.

        But that is a one-on-one situation and here my analogy fails. The public square doesn’t work as a dialogue, but rather as a contest of several voices and tiny bits of information. In it many claim that those bunch of cells are no person, that killing them is not only not wrong but sometimes even commendable.

        All those voices legitimize evil, and provide justification to those who will kill their own flesh, and as a consequence the innocent ones die. But it’s not a contest between the value of the little ones and the value of the adults, for the mislead adults will also be hurt as a result of their wrong decisions (I speak by personal experience). And I haven’t even touched upon the worst part, which is the afterlife.

        So should one speak the truth, but also be careful to speak about mercy in the same message? That is not always possible. The public square itself poses limitations. On the other hand, it is not strictly necessary. In the same square that one hears his condemnation, one also hears talk of mercy. The Gospel is there, being announced for everyone with ears to hear, for two thousand years now. And we keep doing it!

        No sir. Truth must be announced. Too many have not seen the light of day because of our cowardice, as a society. Abortion is not only wrong, it is abomination.

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