[With legal abortion] one becomes blind to the right to life of another, the smallest and weakest person involved, one without a voice. The rights of some individuals are affirmed at the cost of the fundamental right to life of another individual. This is why every legalization of abortion implies the idea that law is based on power.
Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures, 62-3
Reflection – As I have said here before, abortion is one of the hardest topics to write about well. (It’s easy to write about it badly…). The evil at the heart of it is so monstrous that words fail to express it. At the same time, there is so much real pain and anguish surrounding every abortion—the horrible fears and truly tragic circumstances that so often drive women in crisis pregnancies to abort, the breakdown in relationships that an abortion both manifests and quickens, the emotional fallout of anger, hurt, guilt, depression that so many women (and some men) experience afterwards… abortion is a gaping open wound in our society.
I would argue that it is in fact the wound at the heart of our civilization, a wound that (I am convinced) will be the death of us if it is not staunched eventually. Ratzinger here in typical mild understatement puts his finger on it. Abortion means that in the end power is what counts in this world. An unborn human being is the most powerless creature—invisible, voiceless, largely immobile—and by virtue of that is denied protection under the law. Therefore, the possession of rights is linked to the possession of power.
The truth of the humanity of the unborn does not matter. The manifest goodness, obvious to everyone this side of serial killers, of respecting the right to life of a human being does not matter. The beauty that emerges when truth and goodness are honored is torn asunder. Abortion is an ugly evil lie, and the heart of that lie is that truth, goodness, and beauty are not the ultimate realities in this world.
Power is, instead. And from power, violence. And from violence, death. We say that love is stronger than death, and everyone wants to believe that. But with abortion, death has the last word, trumping whatever love was present in the situation. We sing, along with the Beatles and a thousand other sentimental songs, that ‘all you need is love,’ but apparently we also need to be able to kill at will the unborn children that arise from love’s embrace.
Abortion puts to death, not only the child, but all our sentimental notions about love and its supremacy. It is power, violence, and death that conquer all, not love. All the romantic songs begin to ring a bit hollow after a few decades of this.
And so what are we to do? Repent, of course. I realize that almost everyone who reads this is already pro-life by conviction. But, you know, the infection of power, violence, and death is a deep and insidious one. Pro-life people need to be vigilant about this. Do I disregard the powerless one, the disadvantaged one, the poor one? And don’t forget that poverty has a million faces and aspects beyond the obvious material one.
Do I gravitate to the powerful ones, the ones who can help me, the ones who have something to offer me? Do I despise, subtly perhaps, those who cannot or have not? Whenever we do this, our pro-life convictions are belied by our inner attitudes. We have to guard against this.