By: Deacon Marques Silva
Last week was the March for Life. The day after, I read a blog quote that said:
It’s impossible to be at the March and not hear the comparison between abortion and slavery. But abortion is not slavery. Both are/were deeply polarizing issues, and both inspired massive movements to outlaw them. But slavery was a deliberate attempt to monetize a class of people slaveholders considered equivalent to animals. It was a systemic, calculated, and brutal.
I would submit that this is a sophmoric, if not irresponsible, statement – especially due to the youthful readers that it influences (James 3:1). Regrettably, “The court decisions on slavery vs. abortion demonstrate an equivalent denial of personhood for two different categories of human beings, slaves and unborn children.” The fact remains that abortion is a very lucrative money-maker. I dare to say that Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, should be considered a subject matter expert as an international civil rights leader who is quoted as saying:
How can the “Dream” survive if we murder the children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate. (Emphasis mine)
It is callous and inhuman not to see that both slaves and the pre-born share the same discriminatory qualities by being depersonalized, used for profit, and experiencing the same systematic, calculated and brutal fate. I would be open to agreeing with the author if he was willing to admit that the pre-born and yes, partially-born (in ages past we called partial-birth abortion infanticide) that this is worse than slavery. This is genocide.
Just as a sidebar, the Church finds all forms of slavery just as reprehensible. There is no excuse for the enslavement of a people for any reason; whether it be the Africans of our own colonial heritage, immigrant labors (legal or otherwise) and most recently, sexual human trafficking which is not just an international issue but equally a domestic problem run by gangs. As Cardinal O’Malley is quoted in the Boston Herald:
For us, life is at the very center of our social teachings…When the state begins to decide who is worthy of living and who isn’t, all human rights are put in jeopardy, but the voice of the church is very clear. And we’re not just saying that life is precious in the womb but life is precious when someone has Alzheimer’s when someone has AIDS when someone is poor when someone has mental illness. Their humanity is not diminished – and they have a claim on our love and on our services. So the church’s position is a very consistent one. It is a consistent life ethic.
In a country and society that prides itself on its rationalism and fact-based approach to – well, everything, urban myths abound around the subject of abortion. Again, many in the mental health field have suggested that abortion is primarily aimed at the poor who have no other resources and thus, out of fear, procure an abortion. In fact, the statistics bear that out:
Between 2001 and 2008, already large disparities in unintended pregnancy by income level increased. The national unintended pregnancy rate in 2008 was 54 per 1,000 women aged 15–44, meaning that about 5% of women of reproductive age have an unplanned pregnancy each year. Among poor women, however, the rate of unintended pregnancy was more than five times that of women with an income of at least 200% of the federal poverty level (137 vs. 26 per 1,000 women 15–44). The recession and shifts in population demographics may be contributing factors…
The numbers are now demonstrating that there has been a substantial increased use of abortion by Blacks and Hispanics below the federal poverty line. The only caveat I would add is the closest generator of reliable data is provided by the Guttmacher Institute – the former research affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Which brings me to my point. Even the Guttmacher research, in providing data on reasons for abortion, contradicts this common assertion that most abortions are procured due to a lack of income and/or resources. In fact it says, 69.5 percent are procured for a variety of convenience reasons, 23 percent out of affordability, 7 percent for health issues (mother and/or child), and 0.5 percent are rape victims.
All disordered decisions are a result of fear. And yet, most decisions do not involve the violent death of the most defenseless and innocent among us. That being said, the author of the blog did touch on an issue that has some traction to it. He said that the March for Life it is rather “safe”. For many, we would rather protest, sign petitions and march than get our hands dirty and jump into the trenches. Mr. John Zmirak treats this beautifully in his blog post, Our Hot, Sexy Culture: Welcome to the Burn Ward which reviews a current movie. “Gimme Shelter”. It is not that the march is safe but rather, it should be a jump point to battle the underlying causes that result in abortion.
I also feel the need to comment that I think the 0.5 percent of women who report they were forced into abortion is way too low. For many abortion is not about a choice but un-choice. I am privileged to work with Ms. Sarah LaPierre and her team at the Arlington diocese Gabriel Project and Project Rachel. These ministries are among a number of the best kept secrets in the diocese, and they shouldn’t be. They have exposed me to many amazing and courageous post-abortive and single-mother women who have taught and clearly demonstrated to me, that forced abortions are far more common than we are willing to admit or report.
Abortion is slavery. Abortion is genocide. Abortion is legal and reveals the malignant tumor that is festering in the soul of America. I would like, over the next year, to see the mental health field admit their complicity in this human rights crime. It is neither a way to “cull the welfare rolls,” nor a necessity answering the claim that “If we banned abortion outright, there is no way we could handle the influx of children needing homes, assuming the parent chose to not raise his or her child.” What needs to change is a throwaway and convenience society and government that wants quick solutions for long-term investments: people. Abortion is not just slavery of the unborn for commercial financial gain; it enslaves the culture that allows it.
We need to assist the poorest of the poor – I have worked with and led organizations serving them at the domestic and international level. But if we refuse to recognize the hierarchy of goods, a reasoned approach to who is the most innocent and defenseless, and what constitutes personhood and sexuality, then we will always compromise and end up loving things and using people – even with the best of intentions.
 “Slavery Compared to Abortion,” Illinois Right to Life Committee, January 25, 2014, accessed January 25, 2014, http://www.illinoisrighttolife.org/SlaveryAbortion.htm.
 Jessica Heslam, “Full Interview with Cardianl O’Malley,” BostonHerald.com, January 21, 2014, accessed January 29, 2014, http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2014/01/full_interview_with_cardinal_o_malley.
 “Unintended Pregnancy Remains a Persistent Problem in the United States,” Guttmacher Institute, January 29, 2014, accessed January 29, 2014, http://www.guttmacher.org/.
 L.B. Finer et al., “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives,” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 37 (2005):110-118 (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/psrh/full/3711005.pdf; visited March 19, 2009).
 “Why Is Abortion the Unchoice?,” Abortion is the unchoice, January 29, 2014, accessed January 29, 2014, http://www.theunchoice.com/intro.htm.
 John Zmirak, “Our Hot, Sexy Culture: Welcome to the Burn Ward,” Aleteia, January 28, 2014, accessed January 29, 2014, http://www.aleteia.org/en/society/article/our-hot-sexy-culture-welcome-to-the-burn-ward-5259862367797248?.