WHY DOES THE ABORTION ISSUE INTIMIDATE SO MANY CATHOLICS?

What are the specific social pressures bearing down upon us as

bystanders on the abortion issue? What are the sociological

pressures that influence Christians - Catholics and Knights in

particular - not to engage in traditional and highly visible

forms of community activism against abortion?

The following reasons could possibly serve as explanations for

the lack of strong public protest that one would expect to get

when some 2,000 Canadian babies are being destroyed every week in

their mothers` womb.

1) Is something wrong? Because abortion is carried out in

designed isolation (as is the Morgentaler abortuary in

Fredericton - behind a high fence at the end of a dead-end

street), people may be lulled in thinking everything is all

right.

2) Is it an emergency? If others, especially in the Christian

community, are not reacting, then perhaps what`s taking place

isn`t an emergency. People don`t like to intervene because

socially those who protest abortion are pariahs often portrayed

as crackpots or fanatics on the extreme fringes of society -

hardly an example to emulate. Subconsciously, many of us think:

"If abortion were really that evil, wouldn`t there be lots of

'normal people' out there protesting?" Also there is a great

deal of ambiguity, as an opinion survey of Catholics has shown,

in which nine issues ranked ahead of abortion in importance.

3) Is it my responsibility to act? The response seems to be to

defer to the expert: if doctors, nurses, and clergymen don`t seem

all that upset about abortion, then what business is it of mine?

4) How do I help? Here, the idea of personal risk intrudes most

harshly; that is, what are the possible negative consequences if

I intervene? In some cases the protester must be willing to risk

not only personal pain and disgrace, but also financial lost and

possibly separation from family and friends, as some have been

forced to do in British Columbia and Ontario. When such costs

are weighed with the ambiguities which many Christians already

feel about abortion, it is no wonder that many Christians are

reticent about engaging in such active forms of intervention. As

some of us Knights in Fredericton who regularly picket the

Morgentaler "Clinic" and the Everett Chalmers Hospital have

discovered, dislike of pro-lifers can run deep and loud.

Fortunately, however, police intervention here is and still

remains very sympathetic to the men and ladies prayerfully

demonstrating at these two locations.

Because of the general silence on the evil of abortion, the

avenues open for Christians to actively protest abortion are

being slowly, yet inexorably, choked - as is becoming evident

from the current situation in B.C., Quebec and Ontario. In one

instance, an elderly lady has been in an out of prison for most

of the last two years for peacefully and silently protesting at a

Morgentaler abortion mill in Toronto. In another case, a father

of a young family was hauled off to Bordeaux Jail, in Montreal,

for silently marching in front of another Morgentaler death

clinic, displaying a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

It is our governments and courts, our elected leaders themselves,

who are actually guarding the abortion clinics and protecting

abortionists. As a result, the Christian bystander is faced with

enormous social pressures not to intervene, not to resist the

pressures of social conformity. And the longer bystanders wait,

the less likely they are to intervene. This is why, as time

passes, intervention on a mass scale by Catholics and their

Christian brothers will be less and less likely. And, in all

likelihood, euthanasia will follow the same depressing scenario

of public compliance we now see for abortion in the Christian

community.

Thaddée Renault

Pro-Life Program


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