by Helen M. Alvaré
May 14, 1999
"Against abortion? Don't have one." So reads the bumper sticker which, in its own clever little way, sums up nearly the whole horror of the pro-abortion viewpoint. As if human beings can create little islands where violence is permitted, and seal them off neatly from our other, more noble affairs.
The impossibility of this has been brought home lately in myriad ways. Support for killing and the "logic" of violence are never content to remain sealed up. This will sound dramatic, but such is the way of evil. It's like what Abraham Lincoln once said of the pro-slave movement: "[W]hat will convince them? This and only this, cease to call slavery wrong and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly -- done in acts as well as in words."
A recent story out of Canada makes the point. Nurses at the Calgary Hospital are being forced to participate in very late term abortions or lose their jobs. And it gets worse. They are finding themselves not only administering labor-inducing abortion drugs to mothers of viable infants, not only delivering the infants after the mothers lie in labor sometimes for days . . . but holding until death the live-born infants who survive these ministrations. Holding them for a few minutes or for 12 hours. Holding them, but prohibited from giving them food. Holding babies with Down Syndrome and watching them slowly starve to death.
And still it gets worse. A Calgary court has actually ordered the magazine which published this story to cease publishing further information. The reason? The hospital claims its doctors might be harmed by fanatical pro-lifers. No stories have identified any doctors associated with these abortions.
Here in the United States, our minds, too, are being forcibly occupied by supporters of killing. Pharmacists at certain outlets and in a number of states, upon threat to their jobs and their livlihoods, are being forced to dispense the so-called "morning-after pill," marketed so glibly by Planned Parenthood and others as a "contraceptive." Except that it's not. One of its common and intended effects is to make the lining of a woman's womb hostile to the implantation of the new human embryo. So how do they continue calling this a contra-ceptive (as in "against conception")? By redefining conception, of course. Redefining it to mean no longer the beginning of a new life, but the successful implantating in the mother's womb of this new life. And they will not let it rest until pharmacists trained to know differently, or anyone who dares say otherwise, does the same.
The effort to occupy our very minds and consciences -- to rout our natural instincts to protect life, and to call killing by its given name -- is further evident in several recent news accounts about partial-birth abortion. Responding to the report that an infant of 22 weeks' gestation had been born alive following after a partial-birth procedure was begun, an official of the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights opined that while "killing babies" (his words) is not good, it's sometimes necessary. Then there's the minister in Maine who urges that the "morally fitting response to new life may be no, rather than yes" when a woman's "energy, emotions, resources and . . . health" are limited. For sheer chutzpah, though, I've never quite seen anything to equal the response of a local official of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League to reports of the killing of a newborn in her state: " If there had been a well-advertised [abortion] clinic in the area, would that baby have died? I don't think so."
Clearly, it is galling to abortion supporters that after 26 years of virtually unlimited abortion, 26 years of owning the title "constitutional right," 26 years of support from the most elite segments of society -- we in the pro-life movement will not call a wrong a right. They know, and we know, the sheer power of a conscience formed in truth.
Ms. Alvare is the Director of Planning and Information at the Secretariat for Pro-life Activities of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC