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Published in The Pittsburgh Catholic  June 23, 1995

Abortion and the Bubble of Unreality

          Students who attend Catholic schools for all eight years of their primary education will repeatedly hear the message that abortion is always considered a serious sin and a social injustice. As a seventh and eighth grade religion teacher in a parochial school, I consistently emphasize the Church's teaching on the sacredness of life.
          Yet in casual conversation with my students during non-instructional time, I still hear, "I'm not for abortion, but I think a woman should have the choice.  I'm not going to tell anyone what to do."  Obviously, the Church's teaching is not getting through.
          Pro-life advocates think that the whole abortion debate in this country is under a bubble of unreality.  Virtually ignoring the blood and gore of abortion, or even the miracle of an unaborted fetus, the media usually focuses on the "choice" issue. The choice of the woman to kill is enshrined; the choice of the child to live is obliterated.  The same media that relentlessly exposes America to the grim carnage of the Oklahoma City bombing, hides the grim carnage of an abortion clinic.  Yet, could we discuss slavery without focusing on the conditions of the slaves?   
          Feeling that my own students were residing under that same "bubble of unreality,"  I decided to connect the doctrine of the "sacredness of life" to something as hard-boiled as the consequences of bombing a crowded Federal Building.
          I invited two speakers from the Professional Women's Network, a pro-life advocacy group, to present the facts of abortion.  The result was telling.  No longer indifferent, my students later discussed and debated the abortion issue, spontaneously and concernedly, with family and friends.
          Christine Caprio, an attorney, and Jennifer Milcarek, a businesswoman, avoided sensationalism and religious doctrine.  During the first half, they stuck to the ungory facts of fetal development using material culled from secular periodicals and medical journals.   They also strongly denounced any use of violence in the pro-life movement.
          The second half consisted of question and answers.  Students asked how abortions were performed.  The various procedures were explained.  Now able to envision the unborn child undergoing these procedures, my students became visibly more concentrated--and horrified. 
          They stepped out of the "bubble" of vague nomenclature--"pro-life"/"pro choice"--into the reality of abortion as suction, saline injection and D&X death.  They began to ask more questions.
          In each class, after asking about the procedures, the consequences (for women and children), and the numbers of abortion, the final question was articulated: Why?  Why does a woman choose to have an abortion?  Why does the law permit millions to occur each year?  Why is adoption so rarely considered or offered as an alternative? 
          They answered that question in their own written evaluations.  "The mother most likely doesn't know she is killing a human," one student wrote.  Another wrote, "I think that the woman thinks that the baby isn't fully developed and abortion wouldn't hurt it." 
          My students could figure that out because they themselves didn't know the facts before.  "I didn't know how they did abortions or if the baby was even close to being developed." "I used to think that the babies weren't so violently killed."
          My students learned what much of the media and abortion advocates try to dismiss or conceal: that what happens during an abortion is vitally important information in the debate. 
          Why are there so few, if any, investigative pieces by the major media on the shocking under-regulation of this medical industry, the psychological and physical harm done to women by legal abortions, or the industry's multi-million dollar profits?  Why do abortion advocates oppose or try to side-step the "informed consent" laws?  Why did a pro-choice group decline to debate the PWN presenters in a high school if PWN showed photographs of fetal development?
          Like many Americans my students were ambivalent about abortion.  Yet faced with the facts, most concluded what pro-life activists have concluded at some point in their lives.  "If pro-choice people knew or understood what we do, I think abortion would be abolished in the U.S.," one student wrote.  "I know now why pro-lifers fight so hard against abortion...your pictures made it easier to understand the value of an unborn baby and how it is human, like us.  I believe that babies in the womb are as valuable as born babies.  Why can't people make the connection between abortion and murder, between an unborn baby and a valuable life?"
            Another student answered him, "If only society and the mothers who want to have an abortion learned about it," she wrote, "I'm sure they would change their minds about abortion."  Remove the bubble of unreality shielding us from unpleasant facts,  and the connection will be made many times over.

Copyright © Rosemary Fielding, 2011

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