ABORTION: by Tony Abbott MPNews Weekly
Speaking up for the unborn
, November 20, 2004
More than a quarter of pregnancies in Australia end in abortion. Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott, in a speech to a Catholic conference in Sydney on October 25, called abortion "a stain on our national character".I want to invite representatives of the Church, leaders of the Church, to consider the Church's role in combating the great tragedy of abortion in Australia today.
I've just taken issue with some of the statements which have been made over the last few years by people associated with the Church. But please don't let me give anyone the impression that the Church should hold its tongue.
No. When the Church speaks, if people disagree they will say so. But please speak out about the things that the Church believes in. Speak out about the great truths of the Christian faith.
It seems to me undeniable that we have a terrible problem in this country. There are about 75,000 Medicare-funded abortions every year. There are about 100,000 abortions a year in total.
There are about 250,000 live births, which means that more than a quarter of all pregnancies in Australia end in abortion. And we will be a better country, we will be a better people and, frankly, we will have better governments if the Church speaks its mind clearly and unambiguously on this and on the other great moral truths which Catholics and Christians believe.
The problem of abortion is not a question on which Christians of good will should differ. This is morally clear-cut in a way in which, for instance, the application of the just-war theory is not. There is, in fact, a just-war theory. There is no "just abortion-on-demand theory" which any serious Christian thinker has ever advocated.
Now the last thing that anyone would want to do is to criminalise people who are party to abortion. Still, abortion is a stain on our national character that can and should be reduced. We can and should do something about it.
I respectfully put it to church leaders that if, on a per capita basis, Catholics devoted as much moral energy to these 100,000 extinguished lives as we do to the far smaller number of children in detention, if senior Catholics were as morally indignant about the unambiguous moral tragedy of abortion as we are about the less clear-cut question of immigration detention, then there would be change.
If, as a society, we put as much interest in discouraging premature sexual activity as we do in discouraging drink-driving or cigarette-smoking; if, as a society, we re-established adoption as an alternative to abortion or sole parenthood; if, as a society, we cherished and celebrated motherhood as much as we cherish and celebrate success in the workplace, there would be far fewer abortions and we would be a happier and better society.Gift of life
It seems to me that the greatest gift that any human being can give to another is the gift of life and that having children is the ultimate vote of confidence in the future.
How those of us who believe that Jesus came that we should have life and have it to the full can go through a single day without being haunted by the missing millions of Australians is beyond me.
I think there is a call there for all of us to do what we can to try to tackle that issue.
The best that could possibly be said by anyone for abortion is that it might be a necessary evil, but it is an evil that is now taken for granted in our society in a way that not even the most convinced feminist could have imagined possible 35 years ago.
At the very least, surely we should be reminding people of exactly what is going on in our midst by adding a constant prayer of intercession against hardening our hearts against new life.
Finally, I want to say that this is supposed to be an irreligious age - and it's true that amongst very many influential people in our society religion is alright between consenting adults in private, but heaven help us if it actually makes a difference to the way we live.
It seems to me that if our society lacks idealism, it is because idealism is so rarely expected of us. I don't believe that any of us should underestimate the strength of Australians' Christian commitment if that commitment is called for.
Roughly as many people attend church on a Sunday as participate in organised sport on a weekend. As a culture, we would never treat sport and sporting values with the condescension with which we have treated Christian values and Christian pieties over the last generation.
Christians certainly can't expect the world to reflect Christian values, but certainly we can seek to have the world better reflect human values and to pose the question how are the best human values advanced by Australia's abortion epidemic.
We should never forget the values and the example which gives the Church its sublime calling.