Page 4, 24th June 1977

24th June 1977
Page 4
Page 4, 24th June 1977 — Help for mothers and unwanted children

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Organisations: Catholic Church, LIFE


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Help for mothers and unwanted children

• In reply to the question from Mrs Peters (June 17): Is LIFE (or am I personally) prepared to take the responsibility of supporting the unwanted child of a girl or woman helped by us to continue pregnancy, the answer is yes. I can confidently say that. and so can hundreds of other LIFE pregnancy care workers, because we are not working on our own but as part of a big national network of LIFE Groups, with our own local LIFE Groups to share the duties and responsibilities involved.

Over the past seven years LIFE has helped numerous women and girls who genuinely did not want to bring up their own child. In every case, even when the babies were in some way "unusual" (half-caste, slightly handicapped, conceived incestuously) they have been adopted eagerly by some of the many involuntary childless couples who long to give a secure and loving family life to "unwanted" children.

If any child helped by LIFE to be born were very seriously handicapped either physically or mentally we would have no hesitation in finding him or her a home in one of the excellent specialist institutions. Mrs Peters is unjust (or maybe she does not know much) about the work of teachers, nurses and social workers (and many volunteers) in homes for handicapped children. If a "Life baby" went into one of these special homes we would do all we could, by visiting the child, helping the trained staff, supporting fund-raising events, to ensure that he or she had a family to belong to outside the Home.

If a "LIFE baby" were born with a handicap that ordinary untrained people could cope with and if no adoptive parents wanted that child, can assure Mrs Peters that we would look after the child ourselves in our own families. I would be glad to do this myself, and I know that plenty of other LIFE members would.

As I said in my first letter, LIFE members and pro-life people in all organisations do not reject the handicapped as second-class citizens: it is the abortionists who are guilty of such rejection, and who, by their ceaseless urging of the killing of unborn handicapped, increase the difficulties of the born handicapped. To us there is no such person as an "unwanted child." We want hint or her. and contrary to what Mrs Peters says, are doing plenty to help unwanted children and their mothers.

Finally, Mrs Peters calls our opposition to abortion "Violent". It is not, It is determined and absolute, but it is quiet. responsible, positive, loving. It is the abortionists who are violent. It is they who kill.

(Mrs) N. Scarisbrick Leamington Spa.

Hon Administrator LIFE.

wonder why it is that the critics of those of us helping women to continue with unplanned pregnancy usually present us as being rigid, unfeeling, "letter of the law" people, and themselves the kind, sympathetic individuals who can see the other view and the expediency of justifying abortion?

If our critics are so full of compassion for the mother in her distress, they are surd asite illogical if their sympathy is not taken a step further and applied to the unborn child in her womh. Because we cannot see her developing child does not mean that we can disregard his right to life, just as we cannot ignore her difficulties and distress. But difficulties and distress do not justify the taking of another's rights, i.e. his life, even if he proves to be handicapped.

If the mother's pregnancy is unplanned and fraught with hardship, should not all of us be helping that mother, not encouraging her to have her baby killed? The Pregnancy Care Agencies offer to such a mother, kindness, practical help, love and a way through the darkness so that she can face herself at the end.

The work is hard but extremely rewarding. We are very aware of our equal responsibilities to the mother and child both during and after pregnancy. If our critics are really sincere in their compassion, we would gladly receive their help and experience or arc they merely trying to justify their own inaction. (Mrs) Veronica Mulvehill South Staffs Life Group Dudley.

It is most unfortunate that among the many people who have attacked Frank Parkinson, no-one appears to have actually read his letter of May 27. They saw the word "abortion," vaguely realised that he was trying to be rational on the subject, screamed "heresy" and stopped reading. Basically, his letter was not about abortion as such — it was about what he termed "spiritual blackmail". the abortion issue was used as an example of such blackmail.

. Most ethical problems are thorny and difficult, and people do not enjoy making awkward and painful decisions: they are happy to hand the responsibility to someone else. Many people are grateful to accept a received morality because it relieves them of the awful freedom of thinking for themselves. The Roman Catholic authorities have always been willing to give people the moral orders they want because the giving of such orders is the exercise of the subtlest and most deadly form of power-tyranny over men's minds. The authorities have attempted to justify this by inventing the myth of the 'simple faithful' (but who allowed them to remain "simple"?).

Frank Parkinson did not say that killing an unborn child is logically equivalent to killing a grown-up in self-defence; no-one would be so foolish as to say that. If a man decides, for example, to assassinate a dictator he quite plainly violates the commandment, "You will not kill," but we should expect such a man to have weighed up all the consequences of his act and concludes it was a smaller evil then letting the dictator live — few people would quarrel with the need for 'situation ethics' in such a case.

But what Mr Parkinson was objecting to was the total condemnation of such things as abortion and communism whatever the individual circumstances. If anyone suggests in the columns of the "Catholic Herald," that perhaps, there could occasionally be a rare situation when, just possibly, abortion might be the lesser of two evils . . then the heresy-hunters are down on him like bloodhounds. "The Church teaches This! No Arguing! if you disagree You Are Not A Good Catholic!" — that is "spiritual blackmail."

Mr Parkinson did not say he approved of abortion or felt anything less than horror at the disgusting numbers performed each year in Britain; he mildly stated that it is impossible "to pretend that all moral decisions can be reduced to a Yes/No form.

"The word 'abortion' is so emotionally charged that elementary logic — and morality — is swamped as soon as discussion begins." How right Frank Parkinson was: for trying to be a true Free Thinker he is abused in the nastiest terms and patronisingly accused of being uninformed and confused. I lumanity needs such Free Thinkers — the Catholic Church does not realise its good fortune in having such people as Hans Kling and Frank Parkinson in its ranks.

Kathryn Harrison Rainhill, Merseyside.

May I be allowed to add to an earlier letter on the morality of abortion. since it aoocars to have been misinterpreted by some of your correspondents — and has cer tainly been misquoted. At the same time I would like to applaud your courage in opening the columns of the "CH" to this debate and to express my hopes that you will allow it to run as long as there are constructive arguments forthcoming.

First, 1 am opposed on principle to abortion. I believe the law of this country is scandalously lax and should be reformed, and that the present state of the law may justly be called a moral and social cancer.

Second, I do not believe that the law will be reformed by advocating, however loudly. an indiscriminate prohibition of abortion. Quite the contrary, there is every reason to think that if our legislators imagine the choice is between indiscriminate legalisation of abortion and indiscriminate prohibition, they will lean towards the former as being the more moderate, humane and legally enforceable of two undesirable alternatives.

Thirdly, and consequently, it behoves all Christians to examine more carefully the position, widely but often automatically accepted, that all abortions, without distinc tion, are unjustified by definition because they are prejudged to be "unspeakable crimes" and "brutal killings." (This appears to be the position of several participants in the present debate).

Fourth, it is clear that many sincere Catholics can see no logical

or scriptural a priori reasons for

maintaining that all abortions fall into the same category for moral judgment. Specifically, they cannot accept, under the greatest pressure to accept, that a fertilised ovum is a child or a human person. The logic of this assertion, however sincerely it is motivated, is seen as similar to that which would prove that an acorn is an oak tree because it will ultimately grow into one. A sound moral positiOn seems impossible to establish on this logical basis. Fifthly, there is a significant similarity and a significant difference between a potential human being and an actual human being, and one is not morally justified in ignoring either fact in order to maintain the simplicity of the law.

Sixth, the fact that the vast majority of abortions are crimes before God does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that all must be, Our instinctive abhorrence of taking life does not over-rule this consideration.

Seventhly, and most important, a Christian conscience, I assume, is not determined by the mechanical application of a law but by striving to judge all questions and all events with "that mind that also was in Christ." There is ample scriptural evidence that Christ was deeply op posed to subordinating the individual to the supremacy of abstract laws.

In respect to this last point, is there any reason to think that Christ would uphold the inviolability of the law "Thou shalt not kill," when applied to all possible cases of abortion. In the sad case, for instance, of the young girl who was raped by her father, can one imagine Christ saying, however sympathetically, "The law says thou shalt nut kill, and the law must be upheld. It is God's will that you should have an unwanted baby as well as sexual violation."

Here we are, with the concrete case, on divided territory, for it is plain from the letters you have printed that there is no agreement about what Christ's attitude would he. At this point, I submit, one must have recourse not to argumentation but to prayer for enlightenment. Frank Parkinson Lancaster.

Mrs Comerford (June 10) is right to complain of the theologians' neglect of social morality. It is a pity (let me assume I have understood her correctly) that she sees our concern with abortion as something of a distraction from those wider responsibilities. Is it not, rather, to be thought of as being the model case?

The subjects to which Mrs Comerford refers — denial of human rights, massacre and so on — are to do with defending the defenceless. The law on abortion makes the most defenceless least defended.

F. P. Hart Aldershot.

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