Abortion: Save the Turtles Kill the Babies
`Priests for Life' director inspires Connecticut
By Rita Reali News Editor
As he trod along the shore in Florida - having given a pro-life sermon at a church across the street - Father Frank A. Pavone noticed a large sign that warned beach-goers not to disturb the giant sea turtles or their eggs.
In Florida, giant sea turtles, and their eggs, are protected by local, state and federal law.
Unborn humans are not.
Father Pavone, national director of the New York City-based Priests For Life, pointed out the disparity in concern for the sanctity of life at Sacred Heart and Corpus Christi churches April 10 and 11.
"If in this country we don't have the right to choose to smash the egg of a sea turtle, why do we have the right to choose to smash a baby?" he asked, gazing out into a sea of faces. "Isn't there something wrong with this?"
Calling Christians "the people of life," Father Pavone urged an end to abortion. He said the so-called "safe and legal" procedure takes more lives each year than the total number of lives lost during every war in which the United States of America has ever been involved.
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In his speech Pro Cluentio, delivered in 66 BCE, Cicero refers to a case he had heard of in which a woman from Miletus was sentenced to death for having aborted her pregnancy, upon receiving bribes from those who stood to inherit her husband's estate if produced no heir. Cicero said that in doing so she had "destroyed the hope of the father, the memory of his name, the supply of his race, the heir of his family, a citizen intended for the use of the republic".
Those who defend paternal rights believe it is unfair that women are often given greater reproductive liberty: a woman can choose whether to abort a pregnancy, or carry it to term, and then whether to parent the child or place it for adoption.
All of these decisions, it is argued, can result in emotional, financial, and other consequences for the biological father, and yet the man's opinion in the matter is seldom consulted in the decision-making process or given weight in legal considerations.
If the man desires to be a father, the woman can still have an abortion, regardless of the deleterious effect to his mental health; if, on the other hand, he doesn't desire to raise a child, then the woman can give birth and he may still be liable to pay child support.
Some supporters of paternal rights seek to grant men social equality with women. Supporters, however, downplay the concept of men having the ability to impose their wishes in the abortion decision with any finality.
A term which is used by some is "equal choice," meaning that the masculine and feminine choices are of equal importance, if not identical in nature: it is asserted that the woman can choose whether or not to carry the pregnancy to term and the can man choose whether or not to assume financial responsibility for the child which might result. Their stance is that granting a man the ability to forego fatherhood and the requirements thereof does not diminish the "woman's right to choose."
Those who oppose paternal rights hold that, because it is the woman who must physically go through the nine months of pregnancy and risk its associated complications, her will in the matter should be conclusive.
In their opinion, permitting the man to opt out of any parental duty if the woman chooses motherhood is unacceptable, effectively allowing him influence or control over her ultimate decision, as she might not be able to financially support a child herself if she decides to carry to term.
They concede that the current situation in many nations is slanted in favour of women but claim that the physical responsibility placed upon women by pregnancy balances out the financial responsibility which a child places upon men.
A 4th-century BCE Greek writer from Alexandria, Egypt, Sopater, quoted the lawyer Lysias, who had referred to a trial in Athens in which a man named Antigene accused his wife of having deprived him of a son by having an abortion.
Abortion kills 4,400 babies each day in the United States - which translates to one every 20 seconds.
"There's no -crime, no disease, no natural disaster, no war that claims more lives than abortion does," he said.
He brings a positive message to the pulpit, starting by outlining the alternatives to abortion and urging reconciliation for women who have had abortions.
"There is a very strong emphasis on forgiveness for those who have been involved in this but who want to find healing and peace," he told The Catholic Transcript.
Many Catholics underestimate the effectiveness of the greatest tool in the pro-life arsenal.
"As Catholics, the best weapon is the Eucharist," he said.
Priests For Life was founded in 1990 by Father Lee Kaylor of San Francisco. Its founders set out to defend life, focusing mainly on abortion and euthanasia.
"These two issues are [the] flash points of the battle of the culture of death," Father Pavone said. He said Priests For Life defends life across the board.
"If human life is sacred under one set of circumstances, it's sacred under another as well," he said.
The group has 5,300 members in the United States and Canada, with offices in Dallas, Washington D.C., St. Paul, Milwaukee and Rome.
Father Pavone became national director of Priests For Life in 1993. He spends 90 percent of his time traveling as far as Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Poland, India and the United Kingdom.
"I get enough invitations to be on the road 100 percent of the time if I wanted to," he said. Three other member priests also work full-time. "We get enough invitations to keep them busy, too. ... There is a real thirst for the pro-life message."
In late May a Connecticut superior court judge ruled that in Connecticut, a man charged with fatally stabbing a pregnant woman can be charged with murder. The baby, delivered by cesarean section after the mother's death, lived six weeks.
"Even [when states] formulate a law which would protect unborn children from circumstances like this, they would put an exception in there for abortion," he said, "some statement like, 'It is understood that this law does not apply in cases of abortion.'"
He said he wants to give people confidence that they can work together to end abortion.
"The message of Priests For Life ... is, 'Yes, we are making progress and there is something you can do about it,' " he said, "and we want to encourage people to have the sense that we are making progress."
For more information on Priests for Life, call (888) PFL-3448, write to P. 0. Box 141172, Staten Island, N.Y. 10314 or visit www.priestsforlife.org, their website.