The guest commentary today was written by Dr. Donald DeMarco and was originally published in American Life League's bimonthly magazine, Celebrate Life (March-April 2009). Dr. DeMarco is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut as well as Mater Ecclesiae College in Greenville, Rhode Island. He is also the author of 22 books and a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
In his final debate with Senator McCain, Barack Obama declared, in his usual emphatic manner, “No one is pro-abortion.” Obama has an idealized notion of human beings (Republicans excepted), while perhaps feigning ignorance of what is really going on. Behind Obama’s declaration is the seemingly plausible hypothesis that no woman would ever get pregnant for the sole purpose of having an abortion. The grim facts, nevertheless, refute this hypothesis.
Aborting for bonus money
Consider the current situation in Australia. In an attempt to reverse the country’s plummeting birthrate, the government of Australia pays women $5,000 for each successful birth, as reported by LifeSiteNews.com (October 23, 2008). It also awards that same amount, on “compassionate” grounds, in the case of a stillbirth. However, since late-term abortions are registered as stillbirths, a woman choosing an abortion at this time in her pregnancy is also eligible for the $5,000. As a result, according to the Australia Associated Press, some women routinely conceive for the purpose of aborting late-term in order to collect the bonus money. One woman is reported to have had three such abortions.
The Australian example is by no means unique. On February 1, 2002, LifeSiteNews.com reported that some female athletes were deliberately getting pregnant and having early abortions in order to improve muscle strength. In “The Choices,” an article appearing in the January/February 1994 issue of Mother Jones, a writer identifying herself as “D. Redman” confesses that she felt “almost heroic” after obtaining a chemical abortion because the procedure was then experimental and thus made her a pioneer for other women. “At last,” she writes, “the blood I’ve been praying for. I look at the women around me and think how beautiful we are in our rebellion…”
Abortion as religion, art and entertainment
Also consider Ginette Paris’ book, The Sacrament of Abortion, in which, from a purely pagan perspective, she describes abortion as sacred. Similarly, Brenda Peterson, writing for New Age Journal (“Sister Against Sister: Re-Thinking Abortion Rhetoric,” September/October 1993) refers to abortion as a “sacrament” and a “sacred act of compassion.”
Cold and callous indifference for unborn human life may have reached its absolute zero in the “art” project of Yale University student Aliza Shvarts. On April 17, 2008, the Yale Daily News reported that Ms. Shvarts claimed to have artificially inseminated herself over a nine-month period “as often as possible” and then induced miscarriages by means of herbal abortifacient pills. The filmed record of her activities (we cannot be too specific here) constitutes her senior thesis presentation. The April 18, 2008 Yale Daily News reported that the Yale Women’s Center defended Shvarts, stating, “Aliza Shvarts’ body is an instrument over which she should be free to exercise full discretion.”
The New York Times (November 10, 1985) reported that two abortions were committed on women at a feminist conference in Barcelona, Spain. When the bottled remains of the babies were presented to the audience of 3,000 feminists, according to Times reporter Edward Schumacher, “The hall rocked with cheers.”
Indeed, there are women who are truly pro-abortion in the sense of getting pregnant for the sole purpose of having an abortion. They do it for money, to gain a competitive edge, because they think it is a sacrament or a sacred act, for art’s sake or for the feminist cause.
A spreading plague
Abortion has radically dehumanized and devalued preborn babies. It has engendered attitudes of cold-heartedness, narcissism and violence. Who knows how far this contagion will continue to spread, how many people it will affect and in how many ways? Abortion is an evil, and it is the nature of evil to spread until it is checked. It is an unleashing of death that spreads like a plague throughout society in increasingly sinister ways. Abortion is a choice for death, and its long shadow haunts all of us.
In his 1968 novel, Couples, John Updike was being more prophetic than he realized when he noted the after-effects of abortion: “Death, once invited in, leaves his muddy boot prints everywhere.” Commenting on this episode in the novel, in which a character procures an abortion, constitutional lawyer John T. Noonan, Jr. writes, “Symbolically the abortion seals a course of infidelity. Conclusively it becomes death personified.” (How to Argue About Abortion, published by the Ad Hoc Committee in Defense of Life, 1974)
There is no middle ground between birth and abortion. The proper response to abortion is not to seek a middle ground that does not exist, but to end abortion and, in so doing, end the evils that follow in its wake.