Dear Betty Caplan,
I know that the day of the Referendum is behind us, but I cannot rest easy until I make a rejoinder to your article which appeared in the Daily Nation of 3rd August, 2010 under the title ‘Why lavish all the attention on the unborn and ignore the poor mother?’
I sadly noted that you employ a weak tactic in your arguments: you interlace facts with emotion in order to elicit sympathy from the readers. Indeed, any casual reader would be easily fooled by them.
You start by trying to discredit Fr. Joe Babendreier by implying that he has no right to comment on issues affecting women for the mere fact that he is a man. You forget that abortion is a reality that does not affect only the woman who procures it. Its ramifications flow down to her husband/lover, the abortionist, her parents, her friends, her neighbours, her surviving children, society as a whole and the unborn child. Yes, even the unborn child! It is, therefore, logical that anyone encapsulated by the above list have the right to comment on this subject, whether man or woman, born or unborn.
The story from northern France of the woman who killed her newborn babies and hid the corpses in plastic bags on her property was unfortunate. But do you really believe that the action was somewhat justified just because the woman would not have made a good mother had the children lived? We might as well laud the Nazi for their actions during the 2nd World War.
One may have the right to treat persons as unwanted members of an association or a peer group. But treating them as unwanted human beings is a direct infringement on their fundamental right to life, irrespective of their social status, health or state of development. The unfortunate child is not a potential human being but a human being with potentials. He has to be helped to realise these potentials, not snuff them out.
In the same line of thought, abortion is intrinsically evil and therefore wrong. This is regardless of whether or not it is permitted by the law; despite even the ‘… million Aids orphans and an overpopulated world…’ which you speak about. From my understanding of Fr Joe’s article, he was defending the unborn baby not because it ‘is holier than a living child, a teenager, [and] an unwilling mother’ but because it has the same dignity as the living child, the teenager and even the unwilling mother by the mere fact that it is a human being. None of them should be elevated at the expense of the other. I use the term unborn baby intentionally since referring to it as a ‘foetus’ or ‘a tissue of blood’, disguises the murderous act that abortion really is.
It is a pity that the myth of overpopulation is still being propagated by the likes of you in the attempts to justify abortion. What you don’t tell your readers is that the problems that developing countries are facing are not as a result of overpopulation per se, but of laziness and mismanagement of resources by a minority of citizens. These in turn result in malnutrition and wars which inflict the poverty-stricken nations. You won’t tell them that the overpopulated areas in most countries are the cities while the rural areas continue to be sparsely populated as people migrate to the urban centres. And you will also not tell them that, all things held constant, overall incomes of organisations in a country would drop if half the country’s population died today, for then there would not be enough workers, marketers and consumers of products in the economy. This holds true even if those that die are the poor, the aged, the handicapped and children.
The Catholic Church has been at the forefront of the debate against abortion. It has justified its stand on countless occasions, based on the 2000 plus years of experience it has. It is almost laughable that feminist you propagate ideologies which have their roots in the Sexual Revolution of the late 20th Century can seek to compete with this.
Accusing the anti-abortion campaigners of not doing anything in looking after orphans is an uninformed accusation. Which single institution in the whole world has dedicated its resources to the care for, and provision of essential services to the unfortunate members of society, of which the ‘million Aids orphans’ are a part? If the answer to this question is not the Church, then I live in a different world from yours. What we should be asking is what you and your ilk have done for these orphans.
Yours sincerely, X
Sorry to take so long to answer your thoughtful letter. You misunderstand me on several points, though in the end we have to agree to disagree. But rational argument is vital especially for self-confessed believers like yourself.
Firstly I did not say Fr B had no right to speak. I asked whether he had had the experience of bringing a child into the world, caring for it etc……that is quite different. It infuriates me that it is always men who are taking this hyper-moral stand in Kenya, but men also who desert these unwanted (and wanted) children in their millions.
Second, I cannot counter an argument that calls a foetus a human being. That is where we must part company. The living mother is the human being who for Fr B doesn’t exist, just as she doesn’t exist for so many men, except in Muslim countries where she can be stoned to death for adultery but the man goes scot free. Is that fair? Ok you’re not a Muslim.
It was not I who was emotional but Fr b trying to swing the vote against the referendum three days before. Thankfully, Kenyans are smarter than their priests (and why don’t you look at the morality of priests everywhere in the Catholic Church who commit paedophilia?) I could have been emotional if I’d told you how hard it was to bring up two daughters mostly on my own. But that wasn’t relevant to the argument.
Thanks again for taking the time to write to me.