The abortion and right to life debate in society seems to have been taken over by the extremists and taliban in the Christian churches. It is no longer about saving the unborn but seems to have become some game to prove "we Christians or believers know God's rules and all the rest of you in society are pagans". This hysteria is not reducing the incidence of abortion in the world but closing down the ears of the world to any reasonable discussion about the sanctity we ought accord to human life. In today's commentary Bill Farrelly pleads for us to reduce the emotional hysteria and restore a little sanity and reason to the public debate...
Do not abandon the already born...
by Bill Farrelly
I AM SITTING in a room surrounded by evidence that says children live and play here. On one wall is a large white paper cut-out of a smiling elephant. Above the elephant is a broad montage of animal pictures. On the floor are board games, books, toys and craft material.
It's a mess, but a lovely mess.
At the moment it is quiet because the children are in daycare, their dad is at work in the city and their mum, my daughter, at work in the study. I am here because, for the moment, I am without permanent residence.
The subject I have chosen to muse about is extremely painful and perhaps, among Christians but most especially among Catholics, the most divisive: abortion. I have been tempted over the past several hours to abandon the topic but if we don't talk about it then we risk becoming even more firmly entrenched in our opinions, more convinced that we are right and others are wrong.
For many, the issue is black and white with no room for any grey. Abortion, according to this philosophy is always wrong. There are people I love dearly who hold to this view.
As a child I can remember that the greatest sin was to take the life of another — the literal life. As an adult, several decades on, I continue to believe in the sanctity of the unborn but equally in the santicty of the already born.
I think for much my life I considered abortion an abominable evil and followed only the teaching of the Church — namely that only if the mother's life was endangered could such a termination be considered.
I am now most influenced by the response Jesus gave when asked what was the greatest commandment. He said: Love one another as I have loved you.
If you think about it, all ten commandments are about love so it is hardly surprising that Jesus gave the answer he did. If you love you cannot steal from someone even those you don't know. Nor can you harm them or speak ill of them. Nor would you covet what belongs to them.
Likewise, it seems to me, if we love one another we cannot always presume to know that we are right and they are wrong.
I said "always" for a reason. Sometimes we know that we are right. But we are never always right.
The division caused by the Brazil case in 2009...
Last year, you might recall, was an instance in Brazil where a nine-year-old girl was pregnant with twins, the result of having been raped by her stepfather. Her mother authorised the abortion of those children and she and the doctors involved were excommunicated by the Catholic Church.
Once again this resulted in deep division in the Church — and by the Church I mean the people, you and I. It was not difficult for me to take sides. Had I been the father of a child — and I emphasise, child — so violated I am almost certain I would have acted as that mother did. She acted I believe out of love for her child. She did not murder the unborn — rather she sought to save a life — an emotional life perhaps, but nonetheless a life, that had already been born.
Sometimes, it seems to me, that in their zeal the most ardent of pro-life supporters forget the already born. I do not believe they do this intentionally; I think they are blinded by their sincere belief that every life is sacred no matter what.
I repeat: no matter what.
It is that phrase that causes me great angst. I cannot accept that someone who has been raped — whether young child or old woman — must follow the dictates of others.
I ask myself: what would Jesus say? Would he say to that nine-year-old child, you must give birth? Would he say to any woman who had been raped, you must give birth?
What difference would it make, I often wonder, if the male of our species could give birth and if he had been so violated? Would he then be so strident in his defence of the unborn?
I know that there are perhaps billions of women who have given birth to a child they felt emotionally or financially incapable of supporting, women who surrendered to the amorous advances of a husband who meant no ill will but who, had he been more considerate, more responsible, would have been more gallant.
The courage and acceptance of such women is perhaps the untold story of the human species. Almost any one of us could be the product of such a union.
I do not give wholesale support to the argument that says it is a woman's right to choose. I do not believe we should ever stop supporting the noble cause of the right to life of the unborn. But, please, do not ignore the living — many of whom already suffer more than most of us can imagine.
What are your thoughts on this commentary?