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The Dignity of Human Life: Challenges and Progress Today

Jeffrey Bruno

Fr. Frank Pavone - published on 09/30/13

In US Constitutional history, the rights of groups that have been oppressed – such as African Americans, children, women, and workers – have eventually been vindicated. As Courts heard more evidence of the harm that was done to these groups, they reversed prior Court decisions. From slavery to workers’ rights to segregation to child labor laws, eventually the Courts get it right. Now it is time for the “embryonic moment," the recognition that the rights of the Constitution apply to the unborn child.

The Destruction of the Woman

There is a second collision course happening, namely, between the claim that abortion helps women and the evidence that abortion hurts women.

From the beginning of their efforts to legalize abortion, its supporters have claimed that it benefits women. As the evidence of the humanity of the child increased, this claim became more important for them to emphasize. When the Supreme Court in its 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision upheld Roe v. Wade, the Court actually said that even if Roe had been wrongly decided, so many women had come to rely on the availability of abortion, that now the Court could not reverse itself without undermining its own credibility.

And hence did it undermine its own credibility.

But ironically, the very voices that abortion supporters have told us to listen to for decades — the voices of women — are saying now that they regret their abortions. A tidal wave of personal experience is being heard across the globe, experience that says abortion did not solve a problem but only created new ones, that abortion does not spring from freedom of choice but rather from the feeling that one has no freedom and no choice, that abortion did not help but hurt.

These women, as well as fathers of the aborted children, have now organized themselves to speak out more loudly and clearly.

I am privileged to serve as the Pastoral Director of the “Silent No More Awareness Campaign” (SilentNoMore.com) – a joint project of Priests for Life and Anglicans for Life. This Campaign provides these women and men an opportunity to share their testimonies. The campaign is active throughout North America and in several other countries of the world.

The Campaign’s goal is first of all to extend the opportunity for healing to all who have lost a child to abortion. The Campaign likewise aims to raise awareness of the harm abortion does to women, and to provide, to those who are ready to do so, the opportunity to share publicly their testimony of pain and of healing.

These testimonies are shared in Churches, on television and radio programs, on the internet, and at public gatherings all around the world. Others, who regret their abortion but do not feel called to speak publicly, are nevertheless letting themselves be counted by registering anonymously with the Campaign. This can be done online at IRegretMyAbortion.com.

And just as we have seen the evidence of the child’s humanity making its way into deliberations and decisions of the courts, so we see the same in regard to the evidence of the harm abortion does to women. To refer again to the US Supreme Court’s 2007 Gonzales decision, the Court made reference to the many testimonies of the women who regret their abortion. In fact, working in conjunction with various pro-life groups, we had submitted many of these testimonies to the courts in the form of affidavits. The Court wrote as follows,

“It seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained….Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow…"

In pointing out that precise statistical evidence was not available, but that it was nevertheless relevant, the Court signaled that the gathering and measuring of these testimonies, as well as the continuation of post-abortion research, is an important way to move forward in dealing with abortion.

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