In December last, Eureka Street published an article, "Why I don't preach on abortion" by Father Andrew Hamilton SJ. He is a very able theologian whom I admire, so I was surprised at the reasons he gave for his silence on this important matter.
His main reason was that there might be members of his audience who were suffering trauma for having had an abortion or for having consented to some woman's having one, people who would be upset were he to mention abortion in disapproving terms.
I make two comments. First, there are women who have had abortions and lack any remorse or grief for what they did. The same applies to those who aided them by giving approval to the abortion. I knew a young German woman who told me she has an abortion about every 18 months. "I prefer abortion to using a contraceptive," she told me. Such people need to be convinced that they have perpetrated great evil.
Second, silence kills. Years ago in Fiji, a Catholic friend and neighbour told me that she and other women would, within the next few hours, abort the fetus of a young unmarried relative, using chemicals obtained from the bark of a certain tree.
I went home and agonised. What was I to do? I was reluctant to interfere with the plans of neighbours. If I advised them not to abort, my wife and I could be ostracised in a country where we had very few friends. Possibly my interference would have no effect on them, so why not let sleeping dogs lie?
But someone was about to die. I went to her house and told her that she was planning to commit a grievous mortal sin for which she would certainly answer to God. The sin is called "murder", the deliberate killing of a person who is not threatening to take another's life.
Days later I met her. She told me she had called off the abortion. Later still I learned that the girl had given birth to a healthy son. Presumably he is living today.
My silence would have killed that man.
FRANK MOBBS (DR)