The Catholic Church has always condemned abortion as a grave evil. Christian writers from the first-century author of the Didache to Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (“The Gospel of Life”) have maintained that the Bible forbids abortion, just as it forbids murder. As the early Christian writer Tertullian pointed out, the law of Moses ordered strict penalties for causing an abortion. We read, “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely [Hebrew: “so that her child comes out”], but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Ex. 21:22–24).
This applies the lex talionis or “law of retribution” to abortion. The lex talionis establishes the just punishment for an injury (eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life, compared to the much greater retributions that had been common before, such as life for eye, life for tooth, lives of the offender’s family for one life).
The lex talionis would already have been applied to a woman who was injured in a fight. The distinguishing point in this passage is that a pregnant woman is hurt “so that her child comes out”; the child is the focus of the lex talionis in this passage. Aborted babies must have justice, too.
“Thou shalt not use magic. Thou shalt not use witchcraft; for he says, ‘You shall not suffer a witch to live’ [Ex. 22:18]. Thou shall not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten. . . . [I]f it be slain, [it] shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed” (Apostolic Constitutions 7:3 [A.D. 400]).
I think the last word from us should rest with St. John Chrysostom:
“Wherefore I beseech you, flee fornication. . . . Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit?—where there are many efforts at abortion?—where there is murder before the birth? For even the harlot you do not let continue a mere harlot, but make her a murderess also. You see how drunkenness leads to prostitution, prostitution to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather to a something even worse than murder. For I have no name to give it, since it does not take off the thing born, but prevents its being born. Why then do thou abuse the gift of God, and fight with his laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the chamber of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter? For with a view to drawing more money by being agreeable and an object of longing to her lovers, even this she is not backward to do, so heaping upon thy head a great pile of fire. For even if the daring deed be hers, yet the causing of it is thine” (Homilies on Romans 24 [A.D. 391]).
-Some people argue that abortion is an act of mercy, an expression of love to a child who would otherwise be forced to endure a life of unwantedness. Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the US. Their founder, Margaret Sanger, once said, “the most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” The question before us, then, is this. Is abortion an act of mercy or an act of violence? While it may be easy to casually maintain support for abortion in the abstract, it becomes much harder when the evidence is put before us.
Though pictures of aborted embryos and fetuses are shocking, they are no more shocking than the act of abortion itself. Until you see what abortion does, you will never accurately understand what abortion is. There are some things for which words alone fail to accurately communicate their brutality. Referring to the horrific lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till and the subsequent photos published in a 1955 issue of Jet magazine, Reverend Al Sharpton remarks:
People can sort of deal with things they don’t have to look at, but it’s hard to view a corpse and turn your head… And that’s why generations unborn owe [Emmett’s mom] a lot, because she was able to graphically bring home what a thousand speeches couldn’t bring home… The easiest thing would have been to say, “No, close the casket, I can’t bear it.” But she somehow found the strength to say, “I’ll bear my pain, to save some other mother from having to go through this.” And because she put the picture of this young man’s body on the conscience of America, she might have saved thousands of young black men and young black women’s lives.1
POST-ABORTION PHOTOGRAPHS (click images to enlarge)
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The decision to unseal Emmett’s coffin was not an easy or pleasant one. Neither was holding an open-casket funeral and allowing the pictures of her mutilated son to be shown to an entire nation and world. Those photographs, however, helped create an entire generation of young activists who could no longer remain apathetic towards America’s racial problem.
The photographs on this page are equally unpleasant, but as Reverend Sharpton points out, “People can sort of deal with things they don’t have to look at.” Day after day, thousands of tiny human beings are quietly destroyed behind sterile clinic doors. Abortion pictures graphically bring home what a thousand speeches can’t. Naomi Wolf, one of the most celebrated feminists of the modern era and an ardent abortion supporter, questions anyone who is willing to support abortion without also having the stomach to face its violent reality. She says it this way:
How can we charge that it is vile and repulsive for pro-lifers to brandish vile and repulsive images if the images are real? To insist that the truth is in poor taste is the very height of hypocrisy. Besides, if these images are often the facts of the matter, and if we then claim that it is offensive for pro-choice women to be confronted by them, then we are making the judgment that women are too inherently weak to face a truth about which they have to make a grave decision. This view of women is unworthy of feminism.2
No abortion education is complete without an examination of the photographic evidence which so conclusively demonstrates that abortion is an act of violence that kills a living human being. These pictures are graphic, but they need to be seen.