A Catholic View of Abortion

Zenit.org reported from Rome (June 27, 2011) in an interview with Father Robert Gahl, an Ethics Professor at Rome’s Holy Cross University, on the subject of abortion.  Father Gahl spoke with the television program “Where God Weeps” of the Catholic Radio and Television Network (CRTN) in cooperation with Aid to the Church in Need, about the history of abortion and what it means for the future. Father Gahl bemoaned the state of the world in its pursuit of abortion as a means to usurp the territory of God, the power over life and death.  He sees abortion as a symptom of greater ills in the world, which he eloquently described in the interview.

Father Gahl began by citing statistics, which show that over 53 million abortions are committed every year worldwide, and that in some countries, over 70% of women have had abortions.  He said that as God’s children, we are made for love, but that terminating a pregnancy treats the unborn child as a product over which we have power.  This gives us a feeling of empowerment for a moment, but denies our basic identity as loving children of a Heavenly Father, with whom we are able to participate in the creative process, but whom we’d better not try to trump through our own pride.  Father Gahl sees abortion as the product of the sexual revolution.  Where once pregnancy was the aim of intimacy, now it can be a bothersome side product of sexuality.  He says that the sexual revolution was not a revolution of liberation, but of narcissism. He sees it as a demise “of cutting bonds, affection, friendship, and of love with others. ”  With the advent of chemical contraceptives, sex became divorced from marriage and family values; it could now be considered a “selfish pursuit.”

mormon Loving familyFather Gahl called abortion a symptom of a loss of identity: “That is this loss of the identity of one’s self as participating in God’s creative power and being called to being Mother and Father. ”  There is also a misplaced judgment that a child should be aborted if the parent is unwilling to love and care for it.  The rationalization is that the death of the child is better than for it to grow up unloved.  But the parent has a choice whether to love the child unconditionally and accept the burdens that are actually an important part of life.  Statistics show that most Down Syndrome fetuses are aborted.  Father Gahl insists that these children have value, even if handicapped.

The emotional effects of abortion on the mother and on society can be dire.  “In Eastern Europe where we see these high rates of abortion, which is often associated with high rates of suicide, alcoholism and severe depression, there is a sense of nihilism, of total loss as to what life is all about.”

Father Gahl finished with the following statement:

If I can just step back, I’d like to also add that our own sexuality needs to be recovered as well as our awareness that sexuality is sacred and therefore our patterns of modesty and respect regarding our sexuality and sexual desires need to be lived with chastity and fortitude in a way that is preparing to give life within a structure of the family.