Posted: 16 October 2011
Abortion is one of those topics that make people really, really uncomfortable. Nothing destroys the conversation at a pleasant weekend barbeque more instantly than talk of the morality of abortion. A couple of incidences recently made me consider about why it might be that the topic is so divisively painful and I thought they were worth sharing.
If you approach a train station on a weekday afternoon, chances are you will have a complimentary copy of the MX newspaper flung into your hands. There are regularly articles in the MX commenting on moral/ethical issues so I often text in a couple of sentences for the feedback pages. A while ago I sent in a comment regarding a story they ran about hundreds of mothers in India giving their baby girls sex change operations to make them males. I questioned which was worse, the goings on in India, or, the 90,000 annual abortions taking place in Australia. The message was published and expectedly attracted a barrage of messages both for and against abortion. To the credit of the newspaper they published messages on both sides for several days and in those days there was a definite progression of thought. Initially there were angry messages that the ‘foetus’ is not a human life, following that there were messages from others outlining how science unequivocally states that the unborn baby is indeed human. And lastly there were messages which stated that even if the unborn baby was ‘human’ it was certainly not a ‘person’. In reading the messages what was evident struck me was the length people would go to justify the notion that abortion could somehow be acceptable.
The second incident was also a few months ago when the director of Family Life International Australia, Paul, was taking calls on a popular talkback station about the work they do in praying and offering material support outside abortion clinics. One woman named Sarah, called in to speak to him. She was obviously angry at what was being said and she explained that she was now a mother of three children but before she was married she fell pregnant and was simply “not ready to be a mother”. As part of his response, Paul pointed out to Sarah that actually she became a mother with that first pregnancy and that she was in fact the mother of four children. It was obvious that with those words Paul had struck a chord Sarah and Sarah’s voice because audibly upset as she rejected the notion that she was the mother of an aborted child.
What became obvious in both those incidences was how raw the issue is in our society and how much people will do what they can to block out the reality. It truly is the unspoken about elephant in the room. Even though there is a lack of consistent data around abortions numbers it is estimated that just since 1994, there have been close to 1.3 million abortions in Australia. This means there is on average one aborted baby for every three babies born.
What that figure of 1.3 million equals is a lot of hurt in our society, it equals a whole lot of people who have been touched by an abortion. That is a lot of mothers (and a lot of fathers) who may be feeling a whole lot of sorrow, guilt and hurt. Is it little wonder then that so many people in society need to (indeed have to) for their own mental well being, deny that abortion is actually the death of a young human life? Can you imagine if 1.3 million mothers interiorised that the foetus they aborted yesterday, last month or 40 years ago was a human life with a beating heart, active brain and living soul? The grief in the streets would be unbearable. Australia’s total war dead is around 100,000 yet every year we lose close to that many Australians through abortion. I can’t help but wonder how many of 12 million anti-depressant scripts written each year in Australia are linked somehow to this silent tragedy.
The point is that condemnation of the objective act of abortion must always be swiftly followed by the mention of the subjective healing that is possible and available for those who have had an abortion. Abortion will always be wrong – the taking of an innocent human life can never be justified – but sadly, the baby is not the only life that is affected. Thankfully there are groups such as Rachel’s Vineyard (www.rachelsvineyard.org.au) which offer healing for the many hurting men and women who have been touched by abortion and suffer in some way with what is now referred to as post-abortion syndrome. We can only hope that those who suffer will seek out and undertake the necessary healing for their own well being and future happiness.