Reaping the Whirlwind: A Reflection on the Global War Against Baby Girls and Its Social Implications

From the “God save us from ourselves” file comes a chilling study entitled The Global War Against Baby Girls by Nicholas Eberstadt. It is published in the New Atlantis. It describes the ever-widening trend of sex-selected abortion, a trend which now effects up to forty percent of the world’s population.  The article is steeped in numbers (enough to make you cross-eyed) and well researched. But it is so sad to read and and its descriptions are a testimony to human folly and sinfulness. We have sown in the wind and are reaping the whirlwind.

It is a very lengthy article and I can present only a small portion here. As usual the original text of Mr. Eberstadt is in bold black italics, and my remarks are in normal red text:

Over the past three decades the world has come to witness an ominous and entirely new form of gender discrimination: sex-selective feticide, implemented through the practice of surgical abortion with the assistance of information gained through prenatal gender determination technology. All around the world, the victims of this new practice are overwhelmingly female—in fact, almost universally female. The practice has become so ruthlessly routine in many contemporary societies that it has impacted their very population structures, warping the balance between male and female births and consequently skewing the sex ratios for the rising generation toward a biologically unnatural excess of males. This still- growing international predilection for sex-selective abortion is by now evident in the demographic contours of dozens of countries around the globe—and it is sufficiently severe that it has come to alter the overall sex ratio at birth of the entire planet, resulting in millions upon millions of new “missing baby girls” each year. In terms of its sheer toll in human numbers, sex-selective abortion has assumed a scale tantamount to a global war against baby girls.

A pretty good executive summary of the problem. Has anyone heard from women’s rights activists and those who advocate for “women’s healthcare?” Perhaps I have missed some reports of the outcry from them? The report later concludes that this practice declares: women as the disfavored sex in nakedly utilitarian terms, and indeed signaling that their very existence is now conditional and contingent (upon cultural preferences). Again, perhaps I have missed the outcry and the protests, the planeloads of Western Feminists descending upon these nations to protest and the demands for sanctions.

But then again, maybe I have not missed it, since such a thing is “off message” that abortion is wholly a matter of free choice and is an unabridged healthcare right never to be interfered with. Saying that ANY form of abortion should be disallowed would be for them, the first chip in the precious crystal they call abortion. Better to let baby girls die and the female sex be despised by many than lose the “most fundamental right” in women’s “healthcare.” Or so the logic would seem.

One thing I think it is fair to note that the report mentions, most of the nations where this is going on have laws against sex-selected abortion. But they are not enforced.

The modern phenomenon of biologically unnatural increase in the sex ratio at birth (due to sex selected abortion) was first noticed in the 1980s for China, the world’s most populous country. In 1979, China promulgated its “One Child Policy,” a compulsory and at times coercive population-control program that continues to be enforced to this day (albeit with regional and temporal variations in severity). In 1982, China’s national population census—the first to be conducted in nearly two decades—reported a disturbing demographic anomaly [of as high as 120 males per 100 females born].

The pernicious and evil one-child policy of China also commands a great deal of silence from the decadent. For all the talk here in the West about “the government staying out of my bedroom” there is a looking the other way when it comes to China. Here too the silence may well emerge from our (wrongful) western notion that the world is overpopulated. While not approving of the method necessarily, I suspect many are pleased that there are, as a result, fewer humans on the planet. Indeed, that is an essential goal of the culture of death, fewer people.

Another lesson here is that unrepented sin leads to distortion in the human person and to culture. Hence, the Chinese and others in the far East are sowing in the wind and reaping the whirlwind. Their whole culture is becoming distorted and they are heading for a major crisis as the proper balance of men and women is lost. More on that below.

What is driving the Imbalance?

One commonality to China and the [nearby countries]  is a Confucian cultural heritage, which places an imperative on continuing a family’s lineage through the male heir as a metaphysical key to greater universal harmony and virtue. Confucian heritage [however] is not a unique identifier of societies at risk of mass female feticide. In Southeast Asia, Vietnam—a society with a deep Buddhist tradition—now shows strong indications like China…

[Hence a fuller] explanation for unnaturally high male to female birth rates appear to arise from a collision of three forces: first, local mores that uphold a truly merciless preference for sons; second, low or sub-replacement fertility trends, which [weights] the gender outcome of each birth with extra significance for parents with extreme gender bias; and third, the availability of health services and technologies (easy and affordable abortion and prenatal sex diagnostics) that permit parents to engineer the sex composition of their families—and by extension, of their societies.

And everyone of these factors is rooted in human interference and a rejection of what nature and Nature’s God provide.  The lesson will be clear enough, start messing around and playing God, and rejecting what God provides, and soon enough you’re in a real mess. Thus contraception, the misuse of medical technologies and a playing God by choosing who will live and who will die, and who is fit and who is not,  all lead to a very dark place.

So what are the social implications

The consequences of medically abetted mass feticide are far-reaching and manifestly adverse.

  1. Women have less dignity – In populations with unnaturally skewed [ratios], the very fact that many thousands—or in some cases, millions—of prospective girls and young women have been deliberately eliminated simply because they would have been female establishes a new social reality that inescapably colors the whole realm of human relationships, redefining the role of women as the disfavored sex in nakedly utilitarian terms, and indeed signaling that their very existence is now conditional and contingent.
  2. Lots of unmarried men spells trouble Moreover, enduring and extreme male to female imbalances set the demographic stage for an incipient “marriage squeeze” in affected populations, with notably reduced pools of potential future brides. China will transform from a country where, as of 2000, nearly all males (about 96 percent) had been married by their early 40s, to one in which nearly a quarter (23 percent) are projected to be never married as of 2040. Such a transformation augurs ill in a number of respects. For one thing, unmarried men appear to suffer greater health risks than their married counterparts….. Second, In a low-income society lacking sturdy and reliable national pension guarantees for the elderly, a steep rise in the proportion of unmarried and involuntarily childless men begs the question of old-age support for that rising cohort.
  3. Forced Prostitution, kidnapping and trafficking of women – Third, Economists such as Gary Becker and Judge Richard Posner have hypothesized that mass feticide, in making women scarce, will only increase their “value”—but in settings where the legal and personal rights of the individual are not secure and inviolable, the “rising value of women” can have perverse and unexpected consequences, including increased demand for prostitution and an upsurge in the kidnapping and trafficking of women (as is now being witnessed in some women-scarce areas in Asia)
  4. More problems with unmarried men –  Finally, there is the speculative question of the social impact of a sudden addition of a large cohort of young “excess males” to populations…. [D]epending on a given country’s cultural and institutional capabilities for coping with this challenge, such trends could quite conceivably lead to increased crime, violence, and social tensions—or possibly even a greater proclivity for social instability. (For a decidedly pessimistic but studied assessment of these prospects, see Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea M. den Boer’s 2004 book Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population.)

Mr Eberstadt concludes that the only why to end this practice of killing female babies in utero is for Medical and health care professionals—without whose assistance mass female feticide could not occur— to develop a conscience and understand that they have a special obligation to be front and center in ending this evil practice.

Evil is my word, not his, but I know of no better word to describe it. Consider the intersection (or shall we say collision) of murder, pride (for we play God), misogyny (for females are murderously hated in comparison to men), selfishness (for only the right baby is wanted), and government incursion,  and tell me if there is not a better word than evil to describe the practice of sex-selected abortion. It is a tangled web of deep confusion and abuse of power at every level and flows directly from the practice of abortion itself, and the prideful notion that we get to decide who lives and who dies.

I often sense the need to recall in our culture that many women and men feel driven to abortion out of fear and that we must compassionately assist them to find alternatives to abortion. I also work with project Rachael to help in the healing of women and men who have chosen to abort or who have helped to abort. But this sort of abortion (for sex-selection) is harder to understand.

Perhaps there are social pressures in the far East that I do not understand, but from my Western perspective, the use of abortion for sex-selection is most shocking and surely going to lead the Far East and other places it is practiced to real social harm and upheaval. I also have little doubt some use it here in the West as well, though not in numbers vast enough to shift the demographic balance of men and women.

For sowing in the wind, we are sure to reap the whirlwind. Please help us Lord, spare us from our stubbornness and stupidity.  Parce Domine, Parce nos! Deus, miserere!

In this video we hear of the first incursion of sex-selected abortion in this country. He also details how some women in the Far East are often pressured to abort female babies by men and other family members:

Rick Santorum is Right to Raise Concerns About How Amniocentesis is Used. The Disabled Are Being Aborted in Terrifying Numbers.

Candidate Rick Santorum was grilled on Face the Nation by Bob Schieffer on his position that certain forms of pre-natal testing end up as conduits for abortion. In particular, Mr Santorum is concerned about amniocentesis, a test used to screen for fetal chromosomal abnormalities and certain infections. The procedure is not without its dangers. Complications of amniocentesis include miscarriage, respiratory distress at delivery, postural deformities, fetal trauma and rhesus disease. Studies estimate the risk of amniocentesis-related miscarriage at around 1 in 200.

Rick Santorum is right to raise serious concerns about this procedure and the fact that the government is going to force insurers to pay for this. Free amniocentesis means more of it and more of it, frankly, means more abortions.

This does not mean there is absolutely no legitimate use of amniocentesis. Indeed it can be argued that if there is a problem, it is best to know beforehand. However, for one to legitimately have recourse to amniocentesis, it is necessary that they exclude abortion, no matter the results. They must also understand there are risks involved with amniocentesis and, further, that they will likely be pressured to terminate a child with a poor diagnosis.

A hidden but tragic truth in this country is that there is a quiet sort of genocide being committed against the disabled. Mr. Santorum is right in pointing out that the rates of abortion in poor prenatal diagnoses trends as high as 90-100%. Indeed if the test come back “poor,” abortion is almost always recommended.

And, the pressure on such families to abort is often enormous. They are told, “It is the right thing to do” and, “You should not make the child suffer.” Some are even made to feel they are doing something “unethical” by bringing forth such children. There are also time pressures placed on such parents. Doctors often want the decision to terminate, made quickly, within a matter of days.

A life not worth living? There seems to be operative a notion on the part of many in our culture that there is such a thing as a life not worth living. We have stumbled upon the very unusual and tragically ironic concept that death is a form of therapy, that the “treatment” for disabled babies is to kill them. Of course death is not a treatment or a therapy, it cannot be considered a “solution” for the one who loses his or her life. Yet tragically this is often the advice that many parents with a poor pre-natal diagnosis receive, the urgent pressure that they terminate the pregnancy now.

90 % are lost – All this pressure goes a long way to explain that just over 90% of families with a poor pre-natal diagnosis choose to abort. We in the Church cannot remain silent in the face of this. We must prophetically and compassionately reach out to families in such a crisis. Many of them are devastated by the news that their baby may have serious disabilities. Often they descend into shock and are overwhelmed by fear, conflicting feelings and even anger at God, or others. Sometimes the greatest gifts we can give them are time, information, and the framework of faith. Simply considering some of the following may help:

1. They do not have to rush, despite what they are told. Serious life-changing decisions should never have to be made in a 48 to 72 hour time period. Pressure should never be applied to families by medical personnel and the family should consider such pressure a grave injustice.

2. Pre-natal diagnoses are not always right. We often think of Medicine as an exact science. It is not. Data can be misinterpreted and premises can sometimes be wrong. Further, there is a difference between the result of a screening and an actual diagnosis. Screenings can point to potential problems and likelihoods, but are not an actual diagnosis of a problem. Further study is always needed if a screening indicates potential problems. Quite frequently, further tests, after a screening reveal no problem at all.

3. Disabilities are not always as terrible a reality as we, in our “perfect-insistent” world, think. Many people with disabilities live very full lives and are a tremendous gift to their families, the Church and the world. Providing families with further information about disabilities and connecting them with families who have experience in these areas are essential to avoid the catastrophizing that sometimes sets in when an adverse pre-natal diagnosis is given.

4. For those with faith it is essential to connect them with the most basic truths of our Christian faith. The cross is an absurdity to the world. But to those of the Christian faith, the cross brings life and blessings, even despite its pain. Where it not for our crosses, most of us could never be saved. Bringing forth a disabled child will not be easy but God never fails. He can make a way out of no way and do anything, but fail. My own sister was mentally ill and she carried a cross. We too had a share in that cross. But my sister, Mary Anne, brought blessings to our family as well. I don’t know if I’d be a priest today if it were not for her. I am sure I would not be as compassionate and I doubt I could be saved were it not for the important lessons she taught me. I know she brought out strength and mercy, not to mention humility, from all of us in the family. Her cross and ours brought grace, strength and many personal gifts to all of us. Yes, the cross is painful, but it brings life as well. Easter Sunday is not possible without Good Friday. To the world the cross is absurdity but to us who believe it is salvation, it is life, it is our only real hope, it is our truest glory to carry it as Christ did.

5. Disability is not an all-or-nothing thing. Disability exists on a continuum. In some way all of us are disabled. Some of us have very serious weight problems, others diabetes, pressure, heart problems, etc. Some of us are intellectually challenged in certain areas. Some of us struggle with anxiety or depression, addictions, or compulsions. Some experience losses in mobility through an accident or just due to age. All of us have abilities and disabilities. Some of our disabilities are more visible than others, some disabilities are more serious than others. But in most cases we are able to adjust to what disables us and still live reasonably full lives. We may not be able to do all we would like, but life still has blessings for us. And even our weaknesses and disabilities can, and do, bring us blessings by helping to keep us humble. How much disability is too much? Can you really be the judge of that? Can you or I really decide for someone else that their life is not worth living?

6. Life is not usually what it seems. In this world we esteem things like wealth, ability, strength and power. But God is not all that impressed by these sorts of things. God has a special place for the poor and the humble. The Lord has said that many who are last in this life are going to be first in the next (cf Mat 19:30). There is a great reversal coming wherein the mighty are cast down and the lowly are raised up. In this world we may look upon those who suffer disability with a misplaced pity. But understand this: they are going to be the exalted ones in the kingdom of heaven. As we accept the disabled and the needy into our midst we are accepting those who will be the royalty in heaven. We ought to learn to look up to them, beg their prayers and only hope that their coattails may also help us attain to some of the glory they will specially enjoy. They have a dignity that this world may refuse to see but we who believe cannot fail to remember that the last are going to be the first. Life is not always what it seems.

What of those who aborted? We as a Church cannot avoid our responsibility to prophetically declare the dignity and worth of the disabled. More than ever our world needs the Church’s testimony, for it is a startling statistic that 90% of parents choose to abort in cases of a poor pre-natal diagnosis. Even as we prophetically witness to dignity of the disabled and the wrongness of abortion in these cases we must also embrace those who have chosen abortion and now struggle with that choice. We are called to reconcile and bring healing to all who have faced this crisis and fallen. Many were pressured, afraid and felt alone. We offer this embrace through confession, and healing ministries like Project Rachael which offers counseling, spiritual direction, support groups and prayer services. Even as the Church is prophetic in speaking against abortion she must also reconcile those who have fallen under the weight of these heavy issues.

For more information:

  1. National Catholic Partnership on Disability
  2. Project Rachel – Post Abortion Healing
  3. Be Not Afraid – an online outreach to parents who have received a poor or difficult prenatal diagnosis
  4. Parental Partners for Life – Support information & encouragement for carrying to term with an adverse prenatal diagnosis and support for raising your child with special needs after birth

Here is Mr. Santorum’s interview on the topic of amniocentesis. I think he raises very legitimate concerns:

This video was produced by the Office of Special Needs and the Life Issues Department for the Youth Rally and Mass for Life, held at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC on January 22, 2010. It shares the story of Maddie, who reminds us of the dignity and joy that can be found in every human life

Verizon Center Homily at Youth Rally for Life

Some of you have written and asked if the Homily I was privileged to preach at the Verizon center was available. There is an audio version here:

Monsignor Charles Pope’s Rally for Life homily by PalmerReview1

Thanks to Matt Palmer, over at The Welcome Matt for supplying this audio.

If you have any trouble playing the embedded audio here is a Hotlink that might also work: http://soundcloud.com/palmerreview1/monsignor-charles-popes-rally

I have also embedded the Video now at the bottom

Also here is the written text. However, I do not read my homilies, so this is not a verbatim of what I preached yesterday. (Thanks to Sr. Bernadette for Photo)

WHAT –  Life is Sacred.

To say that something is sacred is to say that it belongs especially to God; to say that it’s God’s property. It means to say, “Be careful, this belongs to God.”

Well I want you to know that You belong to God, that you are sacred, that your life is sacred. And we are here today to say that all human life is sacred. Turn to somebody and say, “I’m somebody!” I’m a holy, holy, child of the King, thank God I’ve been redeemed!” Yes, your life is sacred, you belong to God. And so does every human person around you. You, and everyone you see here are a work of God, you are his, you are the fruit of His love.

Scripture says,  Before I ever formed you in the womb I knew you (Jer 1:4).

Now we say that life begins at conception. And medically we are right. But there is also a great mystery about your life that some how it stretches back, long before you were created. BEFORE I formed you in the womb, says the Lord, I knew all about you. I thought about you and already loved you. And I set into motion everything that would be necessary to create you. I didn’t just get your parents to meet, I got your grandparents, and your great Grandparents, and your great, great, great, great grandparents to meet all in the right combination on both sides of your family, and I had you in mind the whole time!

Again, Scripture says.  “I have loved you with an everlasting love, says the Lord; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. (Jer 31:3).

Yes,  God has always loved you, from all eternity he has know you and loved you. That’s true of everyone here, and everywhere, and every child in every womb in this whole world.

And of the children in the womb, and all of us who have been in our mother’s womb Scripture says,

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mothers womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. Your eyes saw my unformed body.

And every one of my days were written in your book before one of them ever came  to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)

SO WHAT – Do you see? God knows us and loves before we are made. And he knows every thing we will ever do.    And then out of love and as a direct decision of his very own he creates us and personally knits us together in our mother’s womb. Human life is sacred. It is holy. We are God’s.

There is no one here who is a surprise to God. No one who is an accident. And there is no child in any mother’s womb anywhere in this world right now,  who is a surprise, an accident or an inconvenience to God. Every human person is loved by God, willed by God and desired by God. (Someone say, “I belong to God…I am God’s work).

And no one can claim the right to destroy human life in the womb, to snatch the knitting from God’s hand and say, this is a mistake, this is inconvenient, this shall not be! Abortion doesn’t just say no to life, it says no to God.

NOW WHAT?

There’s a line from an Old African American spiritual  that says, “Some go to Church for to sing and shout. But before six months they’s all turned out” . In other words, I’m glad you’re here today, and I’m glad we can celebrate that life is good and Life is sacred. Praise the Lord! But the bigger question is, what will you be doing tomorrow, and next week, and six months from now?  Some go to Church for to sing and shout…Before six months they’s all turned out. Yes, that’s all it really was, a lot of singing and shouting. That was good! But now what?

Now I want to give you a few important things to do after this day is over. And I want you to remember what the Lord said in the first reading. He said simply “Choose life.” And that’s a big and fundamental decision: I am for life, I respect the dignity and sacredness of human life. But like any fundamental choice, it has to be support by many smaller and daily choices. We can’t just shout “Pro-life” we have to live it daily.

And how?  Let me give you a few things to think about: Chastity, Charity, Courage, Constancy

CHASTITY – Did you know that 85% of abortions of performed on unmarried women? Now think about that. That means that the primary cause of abortion is being unchaste. The bible is very clear that we are not to have sexual relations before, or outside of marriage.

Now one of the first ways you can work to prevent abortion is to be chaste and to encourage your friends to do the same! To be chaste means that you are going to wait until you are married to have sex. To be chaste means that you will dress modestly, act modestly, and prudently avoid situations that might cause you temptation. It means you are going to encourage your friends to do the same. Some may laugh at you. Others call you names. But a lot of them will respect you for it and know deep down inside that you are right. So keep at it. Chastity isn’t easy and there are a lot of temptations and pressures put on you in this world. But stay chaste and call on your friends to do the same.

Remember 85% of abortions are performed on unmarried women. Again, that means that the main cause of abortion is that men and women are being unchaste. And if we want to end abortion we have to talk a lot more about chastity and live it! If you want to say you’re pro-life you have to commit to being chaste and proclaim it loud and clear. St Paul said in the second reading today: set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity!

CHARITY – Another statistic about abortion is that 42% of them are performed on poor women. So I hope you understand that we have to reach out to pregnant women in crisis. Some of them lack financial resources, some others fear the social consequences of being pregnant. And because they are in crisis they don’t think they have options. So we have to reach out and help women and families in this situation. And the Church does! We have crisis pregnancy centers, we have project Gabriel and project Rachael. We also have Catholic Charities to reach out to all the poor and help them. And as you get older please consider helping the Church to help women and families in crisis. Get involved. Remember almost half of abortions are related to poverty and  social crisis. We can’t just say no to abortion, we have to help people say no.

COURAGE – I also want to tell you that there is a connection to the disabled. These days most most babies in the womb are monitored for birth defects and disabilities. And one of the great tragedies in our day is that, when families receive word that their baby may have Down Syndrome or other defects or disabilities almost 90% of them choose to abort that child. It’s a kind of hidden genocide.

Disabilities and the demand for “perfect” babies are a big factor in the decision to abort. So I want to ask you to pray that God will give you and all a deep love and respect for the disabled. They bring important gifts to us. My own sister was disabled and died over 20 years ago. But I want to tell you that she brought important gifts to our family and taught me lessons I will never forget. Never conclude that someone else’s life is not worth living. I takes courage to accept the disabled into our families, but they are God’s gift, and their lives are precious and sacred to God.

CONSTANCY – Finally, keep marching, keep walking keep talking! A Gallup poll said last year that we are making progress. It said that 61% of Americans now think abortion should be illegal most if not all the time. That’s up a lot from 20 years ago. Our godly struggle to win the hearts and minds of Americans is working, little by little. It’s a long an uphill journey, but we’re getting there!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of those willing to be coworkers with God.

So remember today’s rally and march are like a mountaintop experience for us. We rejoice to declare that human life is sacred and that we exist as the result of a loving decision by God. But  remember too, Some go to Church for to sing and shout, before six months they’s all turned out.  So, don’t just shout today, be pro-life in your decisions tomorrow and six months from now. Chastity, Charity to the poor and those in crisis, Courage and care for the disabled, Constancy in our witness and practice.

And as we head to the promised land of an increasingly abortion free America I’m mindful of an Old Spiritual that says, Walk together children, don’t you get weary, there’s a great camp meeting in the promised land. Yes, the song goes on to say: work together children, pray together, sing together, shout together children…there’s a great camp meeting in the promised land.

Now Make a joyful shout for life!

To March for Life is to Experience Life

If you have ever had the exciting privilege of being in Washington for the Pro-Life March you how true it is that you always leave exhausted, but more alive than you came. The Pro-life March, for a Catholic especially, is really more than just the March, it is a series of activities. In the days immediately before the March there are usually seminars and other focused gatherings around life and bio-ethical issues. Then there is the great Vigil Mass for Life, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the night before the March. The Great Upper Church of the Basilica can comfortably seat about 4,000 people. But the Vigil Mass for Life brings often 8,000 or more. People are standing in the aisles, the side chapels, in every nook and cranny. The Sanctuary around the High Altar is packed with Bishops, priests, deacons, and seminarians from all over the country. Visible in the Church are Religious men and women in consecrated life showing a magnificent display of diversity in their habits. The congregation is filled with men an women and young people of every age group, and every ethnic and racial diversity imaginable. If you want to know how catholic (universal) the Catholic Church really is, just come to the Basilica for the Vigil Mass for Life!

The bigger picture – There are some who want to describe the Church as aging and of declining numbers. Some want to describe the Church as not being able to connect with the young, or with peoples of non-European descent. Some say her clergy and religious are aging. But come to the pro-life vigil Mass and behold the youthful diversity of the Church! And even if you can’t go, watch, as the EWTN cameras pan the congregation. Most of the religious in traditional habits are young. And there are hundreds and hundreds of them! Watch as the seemingly endless procession of clergy and seminarians enter, again, by the hundreds. And there too, youthful vigor is in strong display! So many are the priests and seminarians that they overflow the sanctuary into the side chapel for the Blessed Sacrament and into the ambulatory behind and around the High Altar. Here is a Basilica, one of the ten largest churches in the world, filled to overflowing with life, joy and worship! Yes, the Church is a bride, she is not a widow! Indeed, she is the joyful mother of multitudes.

Rally Riches – And this is just the Vigil Mass. The next day, of your pro-life pilgrimage features a youth Rally at the Verizon Center. The doors open early for music and praise. 18,000, mostly young people, pack the place. Music, inspired talks, the wave and ten trillion watts of youthful energy fill the center in one of its largest functions of the year. A reverent but energetic Mass follows, celebrated by Cardinal Wuerl. One of the younger priests of the Archdiocese usually preaches an energetic and youth oriented homily. And then, after the reception of Holy Communion, concluding prayer and praise, the youthful congregation bursts forth onto the streets of Downtown Washington to head for the March line-up on the Mall.

Overflow! The number of young people vastly outsizes the capacity of the Verizon Center. Last year an alternative overflow site at the DC Armory hosted an additional 10,000 young people. There too, after prayer and praise and the celebration of the Holy Mass the young people and their adult chaperons headed for the Mall to begin the March.

And march itself is also a remarkable display in diversity. The balance is wonderfully tipped toward a youthful appearance. Here, Catholics join non-Catholics, fellow believers and even non-believers to march in six-figure numbers. The joy, the prayer, the hope and the experience of how right and just it is to support life all fill the air. It is usually cold, but the warmth within the crowd is tangible. And again, it is the youth who so often set the tone. They have zeal and zest as they lead chants and celebrate life.

The only angry people I meet at the March are usually the pro-choice counter demonstrators I speak with. There are about a dozen of them in front of the Supreme Court and I go to each one of them and individually, if I can and say, as I look into their eyes, “In your heart you know better, you know abortion is terribly wrong.” I speak as softly as I could in the outdoor environment with a lot of background noise. I am trying to go right for their conscience, which, though suppressed, is still there. For the voice of God ultimately echoes in every human person according to the Catechism (cf CCC # 1776). Deep down they DO know that abortion is wrong.

Last year, I only got about half way through the group before they surrounded me and began to engage me. Their primary accusation against me seemed to be that I was not a woman. Of this I am guilty, but suggested to them that to determine the wrongness of abortion did not require a womb but, rather, a mind and a heart, something both men and women have! 🙂 They grew angrier with me as I didn’t easily go away but continued down the line suggesting to each one that they knew, deep down, that it was wrong to abort babies. I wanted to speak this to each one personally. I wanted to try and reach their conscience. Difficult, but worth trying.

In the end they chose to serenade me! And here was the song they sang:

  • Hey Hey, Ho, Ho! Pro-life men have got to go!
  • Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho! If YOU got pregnant then you’d know!

Even here, Life! Well, I just smiled and prayed, and the ladies in the rosary group behind me redoubled their prayers and I stood there and waited for the counter-protesters to grow tired of singing. I was grateful to suffer for the sake of the Name and to be a “fool for Christ” in their eyes (1 Cor 4:10). Yes, even this was life giving for me. Dr. King had once said, “If you find a good fight, get in it!” And here I was on the front line, in the forward trench.

In the end, to stand up for life is to experience life and to experience it to the top! The March for Life shows the Church fully alive, youthful, joyful, numerous and diverse. We have discussed before on this blog with sobriety some alarming trends and numbers in the western branch of the Church. But this weekend shows once again that the Church is a bride, not a widow. That she remains alive and strong, prophetic and enthusiastic. It shows that her young are still numerous, that vocations are rebounding. It shows that zeal for the truth is still deep in a faithful remnant that is glad to be alive, glad to celebrate life, glad to be Catholic and experience that the Church is catholic (universal). To stand up for life is to experience life. Come next year to Washington.

This video shows some glimpses of the Pro-Life Youth Rally at the Verizon Center. The footage is from Catholic.tv

A Dangerous Reflection on the Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, all those young boys in and around Bethlehem, two and under, whom Herod had massacred in order to kill Jesus Christ. We do not know their number or their names, but the Church lists them as among her martyrs. Some have disputed that they should be called martyrs since they did not submit freely for the sake of Christ but were “merely victims” of Herod. Nevertheless, the Church has long numbered them in her ranks of martyrs. St. Augustine says of them:

And while [Herod] thus persecutes Christ, he furnished an army (or martyrs) clothed in white robes of the same age as the Lord…. O blessed infants! He only will doubt of your crown in this your passion for Christ, who doubts that the baptism of Christ has a benefit for infants. He who at His birth had Angels to proclaim Him, the heavens to testify, and Magi to worship Him, could surely have prevented that these should not have died for Him, had He not known that they died not in that death, but rather lived in higher bliss. Far be the thought, that Christ who came to set men free, did nothing to reward those who died in His behalf, when hanging on the cross He prayed for those who put Him to death. (Serm. 373, 3, quoted in the Catena Aurea).

Today we honor their sacrifice. And through our honoring of them, and worship of God, we seek to atone for the many sins against human life, beginning with abortion, and including other forms of murder, and euthanasia, disregard for the safety and dignity of others, mistreatment and indifference to the plight of others, and all other sins against life.

Where does human cruelty come from? Surely it grows in us by stages, for most of us are not born with murderous fear of others. It is “bequeathed” to us by others, and we grow it in our heart. Hatred, rooted in fear, is handed on down through the generations, and the murderous inherit a thinking that there are some who are not worthy of their respect and love. Perhaps they are a threat, perhaps their relatives did something in the past. Perhaps they may do something in the future. Herod was clearly a fearful man, so fearful that he was unmoved by the cries of wailing parents, or of suffering infants. His heart had grow cruel through repeated insensitivity inflicted on others, due to raging and irrational fear.

An Old Latin Hymn says, Crudelis Herodes, Deum Regem venire quid times? Non eripit mortalia, Qui regna dat caelestia (Cruel Herod what do you fear in the King and God to come? He seizes not earthly things who gives heavenly kingdoms). But in the end it IS his fear that drives him.

We know well that Holy Innocents continue to be killed in our world through abortion. And here too, it is most often fear that drives the killing. How will the baby be afforded?! What changes will this baby bring that I cannot take? Perhaps the prenatal tests show a possible defect. I cannot deal with this! What if my parents know that I am pregnant? How will this pregnancy affect my career?! What if my father finds out I got my girl-friend pregnant!? And society says, What of poverty? What of overpopulation? What of deformity? How can we collectively handle all this?

And thus fear drives the current bloodshed. Fear makes us focus on our self, such that we think too little of what we do to others. Abortion thus becomes an “abstraction,” an “issue” that is debated, a “choice.” Abortion, to many, is anything but real. The reality of fetal pain is out of sight and thus less real than the fear. What abortion is doing to our world, that too is less real than the fear. It is the fear that is real, and the fear eclipses everything else. And fear desensitizes, and thus the killing of the innocent becomes plausible, a woman’s “choice,” reproductive “freedom.”

The only solution to fear is trust, faith in God. God alone can set us free from the awful fears that currently drive abortion. We in the Church must be realistic about the fears that many face before the mystery of new life and we must provide reasons for hope and trust. Fear is a cruel task-master and it drives us to do some pretty awful things.

One of the most common lines in the New Testament is “Do not be afraid.” Hope, trust and Faith are important to us on this feast of the Holy Innocents.

There is also this dangerous thought on this Holy Feast.

I’ll explain what I mean by “dangerous” in a moment. But for now consider some biblical facts with me.

  1. When God was drawing close to liberating his chosen people from slavery in Egypt there occurred the order to murder of the all the baby boys among the Hebrews. It is almost as though Satan sensed that God was up to something good, and Satan raged, through Pharaoh, in murderous anger driven by fear. Thankfully the actual numbers were reduced since the Egyptian midwives engaged in civil disobedience, refusing to allow the practice to continue.
  2. At the time of Jesus, when God was preparing to liberate his people from sin, there also occurred the murder of innocent baby boys. Here too, it is almost as though the Devil sensed that God was up to something good and, he once again raged, this time through Herod, in murderous anger driven by fear. Thankfully too this infanticide also ended at some point.
  3. Notice the pattern. When God prepared a great liberation, the Devil, raging in fear, went after the babies. In our time, on a scale as never before, the Devil is going after our babies in murderous anger driven by fear. What is he afraid of? Is God planning something big in the near future? Is there a great liberation at hand? Is there a great advancement of evangelization and conversion in the offing? We can only speculate. But patterns are patterns and Scripture has a way of repeating its patterns and echoing down through the centuries.

Why is this a dangerous reflection? Because I want to make it clear that abortion, the killing of the innocents in our age, is NOT, and never can be, considered something good, or a “positive sign.” Such a speculation might cause some to wrongly conclude that abortion is part of God’s plan or something we should see “positively.” We should not. It must be fought. It is of Satan, it is rooted in fear.

End the Massacre And the Glory follows – I want to conclude by reminding you that the great liberation that followed the past infanticides did not occur until AFTER those murderous rages were stopped. Hence, to follow the pattern established in Scripture, and to see a potentially great and liberating act of God, we must first see an end to the slaughter. Work and pray to end abortion. May the Holy Innocents pray for us!

I put the following video together to honor these young martyrs. The musical setting is by Michael Haydn of the hymn for the Feast of the Holy Innocents: Salvete Flores Martyrum – It is from his Vesperae In F for Equal Voices, Soli and Orchestra.The singers are the Collegium Instrumentale Brugense. This music is available at iTunes. The Latin text of this ancient hymn is quite beautiful. I produce here the Latin text followed by a fairly literal translation.

I would like to call your attention to the second verse and a very charming detail. That verse described these young, two year old martyrs as holding palm branches (the symbol of martyrdom) but as they hold them they play with them, in the way a young child will often fiddle with palm branches in Church. Beautiful and so very human!

Salvete flores martyrum, – Hail Martyr Flowers
quos lucis ipso in limine – On the very threshold of the dawn (of life)
Christi insecutor sustulit – Christ’s persecutor destroyed (you)
ceu turbo nascentes rosas. – like the whirlwind does the budding roses.

Vos prima Christi victima, – You Christ’s first fruits
grex immolatorum tener, – A flock of tender sacrificial victims
aram sub ipsam simplices – right up by the very altar
palma et coronis luditis. – now play with your palms and crowns

Iesu, tibi sit gloria, – Jesus to you be glory
qui natus es de Virgine, – who were born of the Virgin
cum Patre et almo Spiritu, – with the Father and loving Spirit
in sempiterna saecula. Amen. – unto to eternal ages. Amen.

Personhood Amendment In Mississippi Runs Afoul of "In Vitro" Fertilization Enthusiasts. A Consideration of the Facts of IVF and of the Sinful Human Tendency to Want What We Want, No Matter Who Gets Hurt.

In Mississippi, Tuesday (November 8 ), citizens will be asked to vote on the Personhood Amendment, declaring the fertilized embryo a legal person. The amendment is intended to legally prevent abortions.  However a group called Resolve –  National Fertility Association has publicized concerns that the bill could render In Vitro Fertilization illegal or at least open to legal challenge. Personhood USA, a group supportive of the bill claims that In Vitro procedures will not be threatened. The video below features a discussion from both points of view.

The Personhood Amendment would be a wonderful step forward in walking back Roe v. Wade. It will surely face an uphill battle with legal challenges that will likely land it in the Supreme Court of the United States.  Nevertheless the initiative is bold and gives me great hope. Thus it is a great sadness to hear the latest protests that put passage of the Amendment at risk.

I am neither a political pundit nor a lawyer. But what I am is a concerned believer in God who deeply regrets the mess we have gotten ourselves into by our many attempts to play God.

We clearly play God by sentencing innocent life to death by abortion. This is life God has created (cf. Jer 1:4; Psalm 139 ) In effect we snatch the life from God’s creative hands and say, “This shall not be.”

But we also play God by insisting that infertile couples have a right to conceive and bear children, when nature and nature’s God have said no. With in vitro fertilization we go beyond assisting fertility and then depending on the marriage act. Rather we sideline the God given manner for conception and turn it into a technology in a petri dish. This too is a way of telling God “This shall not be” in reference to infertility and normal conception.

There are many problems with In Vitro fertilization that has caused the Catholic Church to forbid it.

  1. Life as Consumer Product – In IVF, a fertilizable ovum is removed from a woman’s ovary and put in a petri dish (the Latin for dish is vitrum) to which a few concentrated drops of sperm are added. This removes human conception from the marriage act, its sacred and proper place, where God acts to bestow life.  IVF puts it in the laboratory where man controls the process and conception is treated as a technology and consumer product, rather than as part of a mystery of fruitful love caught up in the marriage embrace and the love God.
  2. No person and no couple has a right to a child. A child is a person with rights; he or she is not merely an object, a possession, or a technological product.
  3. God is Wrong! From a faith perspective, IVF simply refuses God’s “failure” to act in accord with the wishes of the parents, and removes the decision from God. God may be teaching something to the couple due to their infertility. Perhaps he wants them to adopt, perhaps he has a special work or cause he wants them to be devoted to. But IVF suspends such discernment, and forces the solution.
  4. There is a strong bias today toward only caring about what is best for adults. This is widespread in our culture. Hence, if adults are unhappy they can divorce, not matter what this does to children, the children have no legal voice or say in the matter. Further, if a child comes at an unexpected or inopportune time, many just abort. Again, it is the adults who matter. In IVF there is also some of this thinking since what seems to matter most is that the adults want a baby. Never mind what IVF may do to how we think of life, as a technology to be exercised at our whim, rather than a sacred mystery. Never mind that imperfect embryos are discarded or frozen. Never mind that many IVF procedures selectively abort later. Never mind that IVF children are more often born prematurely, or suffer higher rates of birth defects. What matters is what adults want and demand.
  5. Discarding Embryos – As already stated, it is a usual practice that more eggs are fertilized than the woman will need. This is because not all embryos survive. Thus, more than one egg, usually several or numerous eggs, are fertilized. If “too many” embryos survive the rest are either discarded (i.e. killed), frozen or mined for stem cells (i.e. killed).
  6. For reasons such as these, the Church considers IVF to be gravely sinful.
  7. You can read more here: INSTRUCTION ON RESPECT FOR HUMAN LIFE IN ITS ORIGIN AND ON THE DIGNITY OF PROCREATION
  8. There are certain procedures allowable to Catholics which enhance fertility but do not remove or replace the marriage act. But IVF is far beyond what is approved for the reasons stated.

So here we are with another cultural show-down. Resolve –  National Fertility Association is not a pro-abortion group as far as I can tell. In fact I would imagine that many, if not most, of its members would describe themselves as pro-life. But IVF and abortion have this in common: Playing God and saying that I have a right over life, that I call the shots.

Further, while many of its members and “consumers” of IVF services may choose not to think so, discarding of embryos is killing, is aborting. Freezing them is a cruel delay and a further indignity. Imagine keeping children on ice until their arrival is more convenient. And what if they never become convenient? The big chill continues until they become stale (i.e. dead).

Disclaimer – Now, there are likely many well-intentioned couples who may never have thought through all this, or have been misguided, or are just so desperate for a child that they’ll do almost anything. But in the end, IVF is problematic and morally wrong for the reasons stated.

We live in times where too many think that they can just have what they want. Many think that, if we can do something, we should be free to do something. But there are other things at stake than just what people want. There is reverence for the sacred mystery of life, there is concern for the common good, there is what actually happens to imperfect or superfluous embryos.

And in Mississippi there is a good bill that is now threatened by IVF enthusiasts whose basic premise seems often to be that they should be able to have what they want, no matter side effects. And for Resolve –  National Fertility Association it is clear that IVF is more important to them even than working to end abortion. The threat to IVF procedures, even if legally remote, is so grave to them, that they are willing to see abortions continue by the millions, if only they can still have IVF. It would seem more of the same from our culture that wants what it wants no matter the cost.  What a mess.

Here’s the video of the Fox news debate. Sorry for the Ad if it pops up.

Cardinal George Speaking Frankly on Abortion And Presidential Politics. And Older But Significant Video.

The video below, though an older video, is circulating of late on sites like Gloria.tv. Cardinal Francis George has some very frank things to say about abortion and the intersection with politics. He also addresses critics of the Bishops in these matters.

I have little doubt that there are some who will view this video who will not be satisfied with anything less than a public excommunication of all pro-abortion politicians, or at least a command that they refrain from Holy Communion. I further understand that some would like clear denunciations of anyone who voted for the current President. But the Cardinal stops short of these sorts of things.

However, what I would ask is that all of us listen carefully to His Eminence. He is not only the Archbishop of Chicago, but has led the Bishops as the head of the USCCB. As such he articulates the views of many bishops and we owe him, in justice, a careful listening.

The bishops themselves do not march in lock step when it comes to prudential decisions about how to handle the difficult intersection of abortion and politics. Hence, while some of who read here regularly will wish for more punitive and/or exclusionary measures, a careful assessment of the Cardinal George’s remarks may prove helpful in understanding a different point of view.

Cardinal George is no theological outlier. He is a solid theologian, and one who has been most helpful in matters such as the new translation of the Mass and other matters important to Church discipline and theological concerns.

Clearly the matters of which he speaks are “powder-keg” issues and they may elicit strong feelings, one way or the other. And, while you are most encouraged to comment here, I ask you to be careful. Bishops are our shepherds who deserve respect. And if you wish to express an wish that he or other bishops act or think differently, I ask that you do in the spirit of charity and the respect due to one of our appointed leaders. There is a reason you and I are not bishops, so a little humility is also helpful in such discussions.

With that in mind, here are the remarks of Cardinal George who is quite frank in his remarks and frames the issues quite well. Though the remarks given here were from 2009, they have received very few hits at YouTube. I had never seen them before, and perhaps you have not either. Remember too, his Eminence is speaking in the moment, not from a prepared text. This makes his comments engaging on the one hand, but also quick and to the point. Carefully prepared remarks may admit of more distinctions etc., but these are live, in the moment reflections, remember that context.

Straight and Worthy Answers on Abortion in A Recent Interview, Well Worth Reading

There is a magnificent interview over at National Review Online of professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Christopher Kaczor. He is the author of the new book The Ethics of Abortion: Women’s Rights, Human Life, and the Question of Justice (Available at Amazon HERE). The interview is conducted by Kathryn Jean Lopez, of National Review, and though she takes up the voice of a pro-“choice” advocate, she is not.

Professor Kaczor answers the most common questions and objects with great clarity. I would like to present a few excerpts of the lengthy interview here and encourage you to read the rest. I will excerpt it in the form of listing the question and the pertinent point he makes. And few minor remarks by me are in red. The Full article is here Pro-Life Aristotle

1. What right do you, a man, have to make such a case [against abortion]?

KACZOR: Legally speaking, everyone has a right to free speech, including speech about abortion….has the right and obligation to speak out in defense of the defenseless and in favor of a just social order. The question …seems to presuppose that abortion is simply and solely about women, but this is a false supposition. The majority of abortionists are men — more men than women describe themselves as “pro-choice” — and in the United States, men pay for abortions with their tax dollars. Aside from these considerations, every abortion involves the pregnant woman, the expectant father, the one who is aborted, and the society that allows it.

I would only add here that just under 50% of babies killed are male. I remember be “serenaded” at the last Pro-life march here in DC by pro-abortion counter demonstrators who I had witnessed to. They “sang” for me: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, pro-life men have got to go. Hey, hey, ho, ho, if you got pregnant then you’d know!” They also told me, that as a man, I had no right to speak on this issue and since I was a priest, I was even more disqualified. As you might guess, a few of them accused me of being a pedophile. Yes, yes, if you put yourself out there expect to get it with both barrels

2. No book [or law] will eradicate the fact that there are women who will feel the need to abort their unborn children and doctors who will provide the service. It was the case before it was legal and it will be after.

KACZOR: I think you are right that abortions took place prior to legalization and abortions would continue if abortion were made illegal. The same point can be made for theft, child abuse, and assault, which have always happened in human history and which will always happen. Indeed, if people never did the act in question, making a law about it would be superfluous.

Exactly and I would add that i think laws do influence some people not to do certain things. I know that one of the reasons I never tried drugs in High School was that I knew they were illegal and the risk associated with such use helped to deter me. Many say you cannot legislate morality. To certain extent I agree and don’t lots of unnecessary laws, but my own experience is that law both reflects and influences moral decision making.

3. What’s the least compelling argument supporters of legal abortion make?

KACZOR: “It is my body, it is my choice.” [Actually], in abortion, there are two bodies involved, the body of the pregnant woman and the body of the human being in utero. [They] can be of different blood types and different races, and it can happen that one of them dies and the other lives and vice versa. If there were only one body involved, then absurdities follow such as that a pregnant woman has two heads, four arms, and, if she is carrying a boy, also a penis. Further, “choice” is a euphemism disguising the reality. Everyone supports good choices that are just and promote human welfare. The question is whether abortion is such a choice. Great answer, and humorous to boot, showing the thoughtless absurdity of the slogan.

4. What’s different about your Book and your argument?

My argument is not faith-based, but rather based on reason and evidence. There is no appeal to theological authority; there are no Scripture citations to justify conclusions, and no premises that come from ecclesial authority. The case against abortion is made to all persons of good will, regardless of their faith or lack thereof. As a priest I usually have recourse to Scripture. But it is clear that we must also make use of Natural Law arguments based on natural reason.

5. Is it just to tell a [pregnant] teen she’s got to have a kid…?

Of course, no one should ever be forced to become pregnant, but a pregnant woman already “has a kid.” After pregnancy has begun, the question is not, “Do we force her to have a kid?” but rather “Will we support this expectant mother and her child?” People of good will should answer “yes.” A wonderful turning back of the the phrase “have a kid.”

6. What does Aristotle have to do with the poor mom who feels as if she has no alternatives when she realizes she is pregnant? The desperate teenager? The single professional who can’t both do her job and have this child?

KACZOR: I believe that everyone, including the poor mom, the desperate teenager, and the single professional, desires to find true happiness. I also believe that Aristotle, and even more fully Thomas Aquinas, showed that the way to true happiness consists in activity in accordance with virtue. There can be, therefore, no authentic happiness found in activity that is unjust.

I can think of one case in particular: a young student, not yet finished with her education, who found herself pregnant with a man she did not know well. With so many responsibilities, both to her extended family and to her studies, she felt desperate, alone, and trapped. It was truly an act of heroism for that woman to decide to place that child for adoption. I know the woman in the story very well. She is my birth mother. I feel such an enormous debt of gratitude to her….I don’t think there is any woman who in the long term regrets, even in the most difficult of circumstances, making the choice for life. But I know there are many thousands of women who still remember and mourn, even decades later, the date that their baby would have been born.

A moving and wonderful story of how making virtuous choices, even when difficult brings happiness.

7.  Are there myths about abortion you’d like to use this book to shoot down?

[One] myth is that there is a debate about “when life begins.” In fact, informed parties, both those opposed to and those in favor of abortion, acknowledge that the human fetus is a living organism. Notice the phrase, informed parties. I have met more than a few uniformed people who still buy into the “tissue” argument or have been convinced of it by a Planned Parenthood official. Still, I am convinced that, deep down, everyone knows the child is alive and is a human being.

[Another] myth is that the debate is about whether the “fetus is a human being.” Informed participants in this discussion, regardless of their views about abortion, understand that the living organism within the woman is a member of the species homo sapiens…..The real question in the debate is: Should all human beings be respected and protected, or just some?

The debate about “personhood” is really the debate about who will be included in the human community, who will be respected, and who will receive legal protection. This debate goes back over the centuries, throughout which various classes of human beings were excluded from the human family. Those excluded tend to change over time but have been at various points Native Americans, Africans, Catholics in Protestant-dominated countries, Protestants in Catholic-dominated countries, non-Muslims, Jews, the handicapped, and women. Every single time we’ve said, this or that class of human beings does not merit protection and respect, I think we’ve made a terrible mistake. Today, I believe we’re making another terrible mistake in excluding from full protection and respect human beings prior to birth.

Yes, those who deny personhood or full legal recognition to the infant are in some pretty terrible company and heir to so pretty awful chapters in human history. Any quick look at history reveals how ugly it all is.

8. So what if a mother’s life is in danger? What if she has cancer? What if she will likely die if she is not treated? And what if when she is treated, the child might very well die?

KACZOR: Any legitimate medical procedure that is needed to save the woman’s life — whether or not she is pregnant — may be performed, so long as the death of the unborn child is not sought as a means or as an end. Of course, a pregnant woman may choose, if she wishes, to decline such interventions in order to preserve the life developing within her. These cases are governed by what is called the principle of double effect….So long as the death of the unborn child is not sought as a means or as an end, and the procedure is necessary in order to save the life of the mother, it may be done even if it brings about the bad effect of fetal death. In a similar way, the death of the mother may not be sought as an end or as a means, yet she may choose to accept her own death as a side effect of protecting the life of her child. Innocent human life is worthy of respect and protection, but in some tragic situations, life will be lost whatever is chosen.

Again, the key point with double effect, is intent. There can be no direct intent to harm the child in the womb. One may forsee the possible or even likely loss of the the child, but does not wish or intend it. Further, the death of the child cannot be means by which the woman is saved. The death of the child is only the regrettable side effect of a procedure that is critically necessary to save the mother.

The whole interview is wonderful and he even uses a Star Trek analogy at one point. Consider reading the article. I am interested in your comments. I also realize that the “double effect” scenario mentioned at the end is troubling and difficult for some who are not used to hearing it. But it is straight-forward Catholic moral theology. Nevertheless, I welcome questions about that and also that readers might also supply greater insight to that or any of the points made here.