Saturday, June 25, 2011

Abortion on Guam - What Next? A Catholic View

The following appeared in the June 19, 2011 issue of the "Umatuna", the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Agana, Guam

Because The Esperansa Project does not engage the abortion issue from a particular religious perspective, Tim Rohr of the Catholic Evidence Guild of Guam, was asked to address abortion relative to the teachings of the Catholic Church. His comments follow.
Abortion on Guam - What’s Next? A Catholic view
On procured abortion, the teaching of the Catholic Church is unequivocal: “a grave offense...a crime against human life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church), “an unspeakable crime” (Gaudium et Spes), the “most unjust of discriminations” and “murder...particularly serious and deplorable” (Evangelium Vitae).

The Church is just as clear as to what to do about it. Catholics essentially received their marching orders in Pope John Paul II’s encyclical The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae). The U.S. Catholic Bishops focused the Pope’s instructions on American Catholics in Living the Gospel of Life and subsequently updated a previous document entitled A Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities
These three documents along with a review of what the Catechism says about abortion should be required reading. In addition Catholics need to be prepared for the three common counter arguments to pro-life activities, especially in the political arena: 1) the alleged “separation of church and state”, 2) the “we have no right to impose our personal religious beliefs on others” argument, and 3) the retort “if you don’t want an abortion don’t have one”.
Let’s work backwards. The “if you don’t want an abortion, don’t have one”, is not just the  flippant quip of smart-aleck hecklers. Essentially it is street slang for the so-called “right to privacy” upon which Roe v. Wade rests. In other words: “it’s none of your business.” But it is our business. John Paul II addresses this in Evangelium Vitae: Abortion, because it targets the most helpless and defenseless of human beings, damages all of us and undermines the essential principle of a free society: the right to life. 
Saying “if you don’t want an abortion, don’t have one” is like saying “if you don’t believe in running red lights, don’t run them”. We don’t run red lights not just because we might get hurt, but also because somebody else might. Red lights are everybody’s business, and so is abortion...for the same reason.
In its Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities the American Bishops advise further that “a policy and practice (legalized abortion) that result in well over a million deaths from abortion each year cannot but diminish respect for life in other areas.”  What are some of those other areas?
Recently, much was made about Guam’s epidemic suicide rate which is 66% higher than the rest of the United States. Might such a statistic be related to that fact that Guam, relative to the rest of the nation, has the least regard for life in the womb in terms of legal protections? While no stone is seemingly left unturned in the search for a solution to Guam’s shameful suicide rate, the Catholic Church, as usual has the answer: disregard for the life at its most defenseless “cannot but diminish respect for life in other areas.
Another one of those areas is child abuse - which is at crisis proportions. Guam Child Protective Services reports an annual average of 2118 cases of child abuse and neglect, and a 2009 Bureau of Planning and Statistics Report demonstrates that 75% of reported rape crimes are committed against children aged 0 -15! 
Experts in the field of child abuse advise us that probably only 10% of such crimes are ever reported. So multiply those numbers times ten, and then add in for good measure the cultural proclivity to keep such things in the family. The abuse of children on this island is statistically absolutely staggering.
Should we be surprised at this horrific disregard for children when we allow their unborn counterparts to be slaughtered in the womb at will? It’s not just the Church which tells us that there is connection between abortion and the cancer that eats away at the rest of our society. The data speaks clearly as well. So yes, running red lights is our business, so is child abuse, so is suicide, and so is abortion. Everyone’s life is lessened with the destruction of each defenseless child every 1.2 days.
To be continued next week.

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