“It is necessary to become courageously ‘pro-woman,’ promoting a choice that is truly in favour of women.” Pope John Paul II
Abortion is increasingly becoming an issue of great concern for Catholics. It is having and profound affect on our society and is a problem we can no longer afford to ignore.
Until recently abortion was rarely ever spoken about. Many people would rather not think about it as it often makes them uncomfortable. Often we know someone, a friend or relative who has had an abortion and we don’t want to upset them so we tend to avoid the issue altogether. Alternatively we may not know what to say. Although society claims that abortion “solves the problem” of an unplanned pregnancy, and allows women to “get on with their lives,” this is not the lived experience of many women and men. Instead abortion leaves them shattered and grieving. In raising awareness of abortion, the Church seeks not to condemn those whose lives have been left broken and hurt but to bring new understanding, forgiveness and peace. She wants ultimately, to bring about a change of heart, and to transform our community into a civilisation of love.
Sadly, abortion is becoming an increasing problem in Australia. We have one of the highest rates of abortion in the Western World with 1:4 pregnancies ending in abortion (see Common Ground resource). It is thought that at least 1:3 women will have an abortion at some stage in their life based on current rates. Many women speak of not really wanting an abortion but of having of having one under pressure from others. Countless women feel abandoned and alone at the time they make the decision to have an abortion. Afterwards they describe abortion as a profound wound to the soul.
Pope John Paul II encouraged us to reach out with love to all those left wounded and grieving after an abortion. He wrote beautifully to women who have had an abortion in his encyclical on life, Evangelium Vitae, (#99). He did not condemn them but offered them compassion and hope. He encouraged them to seek reconciliation and forgiveness from the Church and to seek assistance and help from experts. There are a number of organisations offering assistance and healing to those suffering after an abortion.
How might we help break the cycle of abortion, abandonment and despair? There can be no simple answers to such a complex problem. Yet we are called to be the people of life and love. Everyone has an obligation to be at the service of life. Every member of the Christian community is called to welcome new life, and to welcome the vulnerable and the stranger. Pope John Paul II offered us some great insights into this problem when he suggested that it was necessary to become courageously ‘pro-woman,’ promoting a choice that is truly in favour of women. The only honest stance was that of radical solidarity with the woman. It is not right to leave her alone.
Therefore, if we want to care for unborn children, we must first care for their mothers. Women with unplanned pregnancies need to be offered genuine alternatives to abortion. No woman should have to choose between her own well-being and the life of her child. Together we must find new ways in which every pregnant woman might be welcomed, honoured and loved, no matter what her circumstances. “Women with unplanned pregnancy deserve to experience unexpected joy.” For information and support visit where to find support.
Every human life is precious and deserves our reverence and love from conception until natural death. As Pope Benedict reminds us, “…each one of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.” All human rights ultimately depend on our recognition of this.
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For additional Resources see these resources on abortion