Here we are, in the month of May, when everyone joyfully celebrates Mothers Day, and we Catholics particularly remember our Blessed Mother Mary. It is Springtime, when God’s creation is bursting forth in all its beauty and fertility. All around us, we are reminded that our lives are a gift, ultimately from God, but also from our human mother and our human father. And we are grateful for this gift.
But anyone who picks up the morning newspaper, or turns on the television, can’t help but be deeply troubled by the condition of our culture, particularly how we treat the gift of life.
The national news has given us the nauseating story of the late-term abortionist, Dr. Kermit Gosnell. He was convicted of multiple counts of murder last week, for killing babies who had been born alive after attempted abortions. For years he carried out his terrible trade under unsanitary and inhumane conditions, while the public health authorities of Pennsylvania stood aside and did nothing, out of an ideologically-motivated reluctance to intrude upon a woman’s “right to choose”. Many people, including other abortionists, knew about the abuses and injuries, yet nobody intervened. The Gosnell trial focused our nation’s attention on something it has been avoiding for decades — the essential cruelty of abortion.
So, you would think we could now finally start speaking openly and with common sense about abortion, seeking ways to limit it, discussing creative alternatives.
Apparently, though, that’s not as easy as it sounds.
Instead, we see the President of the United States attending a gala event and toasting Planned Parenthood. Interestingly, the President never mentioned the word “abortion”, but instead praised Planned Parenthood for their work for “women’s health”. But make no mistake — Planned Parenthood may hide behind the term “women’s health”, but their business is really abortion. They do over 300,000 abortions every year, a great number of which are paid for by taxpayers. And they oppose any and all reasonable regulations of abortion, or even discussion about it.
We also have the threat of an expansion of abortion here in New York, under the rubric of “women’s equality”. Many of the governor’s proposals being advanced under that title are worthy of support, and we have not yet seen the actual details of his “Reproductive Health Act.” However, some of the advocates continue to insist that abortion is a central part of “women’s equality.” Their proposals include defining abortion as a “fundamental right”, as if it were equal in significance to the right to vote. They are also pressing to permit non-doctors to do abortions, and allowing risky late-term procedures to be done outside of hospitals. All this would expand the number of late-term abortions, and prevent many common-sense regulations, like ensuring that parents are involved in a decision made by a minor.
How does any of that make any sense? One abortion is too many, but every year we have over 100,000 in New York, and over a million in the United States. Over half of the African-American children conceived each year in New York are aborted, as much as 60% in some areas. So expansion of abortion is hardly something that anyone needs. I’m glad that more and more of our political leaders, including Governor Cuomo, are urging creative ways to decrease the number of abortions by assisting pregnant women, their unborn and newly-born babies.
Nor is there any reasonable way to consider abortion as good for “women’s health” or “equality”. Half of the aborted children are women, some of whom are aborted for no reason other than their sex. Women who have experienced abortion sometimes die from complications, or suffer psychological and physical effects for years afterwards. It is utter madness to treat the gift of a woman’s fertility as if it were a disease, and her unborn baby as if it were a tumor to be eliminated.
We frequently hear calls for a “national conversation” about serious issues, yet our leaders never seem to want to talk frankly about abortion. It has become the great taboo, the subject that we must never mention. When we do raise the subject, we are accused of “imposing our values” on others.
Really, who is imposing values? When our cultural leaders deny or avoid the truth about abortion, isn’t that imposing a view of reality? When the government forces taxpayers to pay for abortion, isn’t that an imposition of anti-life values? What about the unborn babies — how do they feel about having the value of “choice” imposed on them in the most permanent way possible?
Deep in our hearts, there are truths that cannot be erased, that cannot be completely clouded by ideology, or utilitarian calculations, or by our own weaknesses and self-delusions. Our lives are an awesome gift, they are precious and must be safeguarded and nurtured. But not just our own — every human life is just as important, and must be preserved and protected as well. We are all called to be a gift of self, a loving servant, to our brothers and sisters, particularly those in need. And we know, at the core of our being, that abortion contradicts these truths.
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Our society is once again challenged to recognize these fundamental truths, to discuss them candidly, to deal with the hard and challenging decisions that they entail, and to support those who struggle with them. The days of denial have to come to an end. We can no longer hide behind euphemism and distraction.
Can we all finally agree that things have gone way too far, and begin to make corrections? Can we start to talk common sense?
LifeNews Note: Cardinal Dolan is the Archbishop of New York.