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Father Nick Nelson: We must change minds and hearts when it comes to abortion

The month of October is dedicated to the rosary. The month of October is also the month we dedicate to protecting the unborn. The two are related, as the rosary is one of the primary weapons against the evil of abortion.

Father Nicholas Nelson
Father Nick Nelson
Handing on the Faith

In just the last year there has been an exponential intensification in the battle between the culture of life and the culture of death. The battle lines between life and death have now been drawn in such a way that there is no masking the difference between the sides.

As many as twelve states have passed abortion restrictions in the past year. Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi made it illegal to perform an abortion after the detection of a heartbeat. And Alabama went all the way, making it illegal to perform any abortion.

On the other hand, Illinois, Vermont, New York, and Rhode Island all enacted laws loosening abortion restrictions. Some are as extreme as making abortion legal until birth and even allowing babies to die if they survived an abortion and were born alive — in other words, legalizing infanticide.

In this current climate, it is necessary to pray, but it is also necessary to change minds, which will also lead to a change of heart. We must change hearts by changing minds. I’d like to take this month’s column to speak on the various issues and arguments surrounding the right to life.

Every human being has dignity, not just value or worth. Dignity is of infinite value or worth. It is not quantifiable. We can’t speak of one person having more human dignity than another. Infinity is not less or more than other infinities. You can’t say a fetus has less human dignity than a neurosurgeon.

We are naturally pro-life. Try explaining to a child what abortion is. You can say, “Well, honey, when a mommy and daddy don’t want the baby in the mommy’s belly, they will take it out and not let the baby live.” The child will respond with something like, “But why would they do that?” The children naturally reject the disorder and senselessness of abortion.

Roe v Wade was decided on several kinds of faulty reasoning. One is that they argued that because the unborn weren’t explicitly written in the Constitution, they therefore were not protected by the Constitution. That is the same argument that was used to defend the enslavement of African Americans. They argued that because Africans were not explicitly named in the Constitution, they didn’t deserve the protection of it. But that is like saying that because “35-year-old priests who enjoy playing hockey and golf and reading the lives of the saints” isn’t explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, I shouldn’t get the rights that the Constitution provides.

We only question someone’s personhood when we want to harm them. Nazis questioned the personhood of the Jews and gypsies and those with disabilities. Pro-slavery people questioned the personhood of African Americans. And no one questions the personhood of a wanted pregnancy, it’s only when it is unwanted or undesired. When we desire to harm them, that is when we question their personhood.

Safe, legal, and rare? Well, for who? Abortion advocates will say, “We don’t want ‘back alley abortions’ because that is unsafe for the woman.” Besides the fact that abortion clinics are notorious for lacking basic health standards and abortion always harms the woman in many ways, abortion is never safe for the baby. That’s like saying, “We need to make it legal and easier and more convenient for a bigger person to beat up a small person. We want the bigger person to be kept safe.”

“My body, my choice” is a common argument for abortion. First, a right is only a right if you apply it to everyone. It can’t be a right for me and not for you. So “my body, my choice” is my right. Well, what about the baby’s body? It’s the baby’s body, and therefore the baby gets his choice. Also, for the woman, it isn’t just your body. How many bodies do you know that have two heads, four legs, two hearts, etc.?

What about when the life of the mother in danger? Direct intentional abortion is never necessary to save the life of the mother. There are times when a certain procedure is done to save the mother (such as chemotherapy or the removal of part of the fallopian tube due to an ectopic pregnancy), and as an unintended consequence, the baby dies. This is unfortunately part of the brokenness of the world, but is morally acceptable.

During this Right to Life month, let’s pray for the changing of minds and a changing of hearts within our country. Let’s continue build a culture of life in whatever sphere of influence we have.

Father Nick Nelson is pastor of St. Mary, Cook; St. Martin, Tower; and Holy Cross, Orr. He studied at The Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome. Reach him at [email protected]