Friday, April 20, 2012

Medical Ethics club on Abortion

A pro-life friend and I went to the bioethics club meeting on abortion earlier this week. There were eight students there, including the two of us. I had to leave early (halfway through the meeting) because I had to commute to another class, but my friend took notes for me. Everything in quotation marks is a direct quote.

First, the part I attended.
We began with a video from Al Jazeera (click right) about illegal abortions in Guatemala. The gist of the segment we watched was:
  1. Women are suffering the effects of illegal, unsafe abortions.
  2. Poverty is rampant, the fertility rate is unsustainable, healthcare is poor.
  3. Conclusion: abortions should become legal.
The meeting never discussed the beginning of life. We never mentioned conception or tissue or personhood. All we talked about was availability of contraception and abortion. My peers (excluding my friend, who almost exclusively sat and silently took notes) uniformly believed that abortion was a right. There seemed to be flexible differences between them about how abortion should be used (e.g. as birth control?). Even so, they were very ready to agree with one another.

The bulk of the conversation I heard was about the poor, who needed abortions because they could not afford the $10/month birth control. My peers admitted that some of these "poor" prioritize their money badly, sometimes buying cigarettes or cable before buying condoms. I piped up to ask how much birth control cost if a person was on Medicaid. I was told it was free, but that some of "these people" had just enough money so that they didn't qualify for Medicaid, and that this was really sad. They complained about the inconvenience posed to the poor in an abortion: taking off work, driving multiple times to the clinic, and saving up money for an abortion (which takes time, during which the pregnancy is progressing and the abortion, getting more expensive).

I had initially sat next to my friend, with a space between me and the next person. Trying to be friendly, I bumped over a seat, but this gesture was unappreciated. The girl who I was now next to did not face me or look at me, addressing her comments to the others in the room. I as if I irked her. Only after my friend debriefed me on the rest of the meeting do I see why...

Now for the part after I left.
I tried to leave congenially, explaining and smiling as I picked up my bag. No smiles back, which surprised me. I am normally the only first-year who even comes to bioethics club meetings and I get lots of smiles. I was also being very sneaky during the meeting and saying things that were rather neutralish and even ambiguous. However, I didn't camouflage very well that morning. (I was dressed like I usually am: in a skirt, with my crucifix very visible against a white shirt. The TAC dresscode is a hard set of habits to break, and I eventually stopped fighting them because the female Muslim students don't get flack for dressing modestly and I want to dressing worthily of my King at Mass every day.)

Source: PPFA via
The next day, my friend explained that the rest of the meeting included a discussion of Planned Parenthood. "Oh...I'm pregnant," quipped one, "well, got to go to Planned Parenthood." Others approved this with "good," and "that's great." (PP), opined my peers, is about patient education and prenatal care; most PPs don't do abortions. Do they know that 38% of PP's revenue is from abortions? And do they know that 37% of PP's revenue is from clinic incomes? What does this mean?

They also discussed the Komen events, which they dismissed as politics.

In our state, they said, the waiting period and mandatory ultrasound aren't useful--most women don't change their minds. Moreover, most women aren't traumatized by the event, just those who are already "sick."

They went into more detail about the hassle posed to abortion-minded women. Besides having to take off work and drive to the clinic, they are also harassed by protesters and their families (my friend wrote D**n protesters yelling at you, go to H*ll). The government makes them jump through hoops. But it's fine once they're inside, and they're "free" three hours later.

My friend asked whether the father of the baby was responsible for the decision. This was dismissed as off-topic. He should have to pay child support, but only the woman has a say in an abortion because it's her body.

Other chilling quotes included "the more [abortions], the merrier," and that pro-choicers are "always on the side of the woman's rights [and] morality."

But that was not all. Two more quotes my friend recorded showed me why I received such a cold shoulder and a stiff good-bye.

"'s illegal because of the Catholics."

"'s those evil people..."

The quotes were said separately (he didn't mention whether they were from the same person), but the message is clear. And (truth be told) when he gave me these, I didn't believe him at first, because they are so clearly the end result of relativism that I have read about for so long: the truth is called a lie because it refuses to accept lies as truth.

Well, So much the better that the credit for opposing abortion go to the right persons. And so much the better for a time of persecution; the Church always flowers during these. One more quote:
"Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and 
utter every kind of evil against you because of me." (Mt 5:11)

Forward this around! Everyone needs to know that the persecution has begun and our hope is now clearly only in Christ and his faithful Bride.


  1. At the Denver CMA conference, one of the speakers said that "there is no benefit to being nominally Catholic anymore" -- your story is just one more example of how true this is.

    The Church is becoming the target of more and more animosity... as scary as it is, though, how much stronger will our Church be for it! Another CIC missionary mentioned a once-Protestant-now-Catholic friend, whose heart was opened to the Church because She was persecuted -- as Christ predicted His Church would be.

    All the more reason that we should not only have a reason for our hope, but show that we *have* hope! Somehow I tend to leave out that last part... :)

    1. Me, too. This year, for me, has been a year of learning how to hope, because I have been placed among enormous challenges to our Faith and even natural goods.

      I tuned into the Denver CMA conference at the right time, but something went wrong and I wasn't able to hear things. It was probably my computer or a mistake I made. Is the conference archived online?

      What a good story about your co-missionary's friend who converted! My father told me that Pope Benedict the XVI said at the beginning of his papacy that we grow stronger by pruning.