Salt and Light: The Many Facets of Abortion

As part of its “Salt and Light” speaker series, the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes today (the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe vs. Wade) featured parishioner Victoria Johnson, who spoke about abortion.

Victoria shared from her own experience of having had an abortion at age 16, speaking of both her pain, and her ultimate healing.  She also spoke about both the legal and cultural landscape both at the time of her own abortion and now, and about the Catholic Church’s teaching about abortion.  A difficult topic to speak on, and Victoria’s spoke with authenticity and grace.

The subject of abortion is a contentious one in our society, with strong disagreement both about the morality of abortion and about the role of law in addressing the issue.  From a Catholic perspective, there is no debate on the first of those: abortion is inconsistent with the Church’s teachings on human dignity.  As Pope Francis observed:

It is necessary to reaffirm our solid opposition to any direct offense against life, especially when innocent and defenseless, and the unborn child in its mother’s womb is the quintessence of innocence. Let us remember the words of Vatican Council II: “Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.”

The question of the role of law is, in my view, one that is open to debate; I view that as a prudential matter.  (Victoria expressed the view in her talk that abortion should be illegal because she feels unjust laws should be changed since they mirror back to us what we value as a society.)

There were several points in Victoria’s talk that I think deserve serious reflection by everyone, regardless of their views on the moral and legal issues.

First, that a disproportionate number of abortions are had by minority women is more than  little troubling.  Victoria cited statistics from New York City in 2013 that black women accounted for almost 42% of all abortions in the city, and, more sobering that the number of terminated pregnancies in that population (29,007) exceeded the number of live births (24,108).  Think about that: African American women in New York City terminated pregnancies more often than they carried babies to term.  (The statistics were similar for the previous year.)

Second, those who argue for the dignity of the human person must take a consistent view and protect the right to life at all stages.  And that those who make those arguments must also be committed to providing the assistance necessary for women to bring their babies to term.

Third, regardless of efforts to pretend it is not the case, there are reliable studies that the emotional consequence of abortion is severe for many women.  Clearly not for all, but for many women, the experience creates a serious trauma.  (And kudos to groups like Rachel’s Vineyard to helping women to heal from their experience.)

Here is the video of Victoria’s talk:


4 thoughts on “Salt and Light: The Many Facets of Abortion

  1. Wow, thank you for sharing this, on Jan. 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And, my grateful thanks too, to Victoria for her courage and bravery, shown in her willingness to share her story! I was at the Minn. State Capitol today, marching for life, on Jan 22, remembering the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade. There were many thousands with me, crowding the Capitol steps. This turnout, along with speakers from the Senate and House, was most refreshing! We all must remain vigilant in prayer and action, to support the defenseless, the unborn babies who are the merciless victims of abortion.

    We will not know peace in our Country until we stop the ruthless killing of our most innocent, those vulnerable babies in the womb.

    thank you, Ann Bodensteiner, Licensed Psychologist

    Breathe, be patient with thyself.


  2. Please send us the link to Victoria’s talk. There are obviously at least two victims here.
    The greater we needs to be non-judgmental regarding abortion and at the same time not forget the child as well as take care of the mother.
    Support and education are needed by both the mother and the child. After bringing a child to term, both mother and child need a loving atmosphere, food, clothing and shelter. Not to be forgotten. The child needs opportunity as well as life. We need to not forget the child born in a worn torn country. How innocent are they, born to the “wrong” side during war.
    So many of us believe in the sanctity of life and yet do not support the children after they are have been born.

  3. I went to a forgiveness workshop where I was shocked by the number of women in the group who’s issue revolved around abortion either one they have had or one their daughter had. This was not a Catholic group though most had some type of “Christian” upbringing.

  4. I am dismayed at the statistics that show that women of color (especially black women in NY) feel it necessary to terminate a pregnancy. And, I appreciate the aftermath of an abortions. If the church would more strongly take a pro-life stand, respecting and supporting the lives of not only the unborn, but of the women who are and will be mothers perhaps this could change. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect it would help. My other question is: if one defends all life, then certainly there will be times when one must choose life a or life b. True?

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