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Life Debate

Life Debate

Abortion and Child Abuse: Part One
by Reverend Frank Pavone

In our baptismal vows, we promise to renounce Satan, all his works, "and all his empty promises."

One of his empty promises in unleashing abortion upon our nation was that somehow the availability of this procedure would decrease the incidence of child abuse. The reasoning went something like this: if unwanted children are aborted, then only wanted children will be born, and since wanted children are less likely to be abused, then child abuse will decrease in a land of abortion on demand!

Yet it was an empty promise. Exactly the opposite has happened. Since the legalization of abortion, child abuse has increased.

The promise had a fatal flaw in it, namely, the assumption that unwanted children are more likely to be abused. As E.F. Lenoski reported as early as 1976, the opposite is actually true. Abuse is more likely to occur among "wanted" children. Canadian psychiatrist Philip Ney reports the same findings. He writes, "When I investigated the relationship between child abuse and abortion and reported a direct correlation, people were angry and astonished. It appeared that the rate of child abuse did not decrease with freely available abortions. In fact, the opposite was true. In parts of Canada where there were low rates of abortion there were low rates of child abuse. As the rates of abortion increased, so did child abuse…Indeed, it is a vicious cycle. That is, parents who have been involved in abortion are more likely to abuse and neglect their children. Mothers and fathers who were abused as children are more likely to abort their child" (Deeply Damaged, p.91).

The first thing that has to be noted when examining the relationship between abortion and child abuse is that abortion is child abuse. Dismembering a born child would certainly be considered among the worst possible forms of abuse. Medical textbooks and court testimonies use the very same word, "dismemberment," to describe what is done to an unborn child by abortion. How, then, is this not child abuse?

Allowing the abuse of an unborn child, then, creates an atmosphere in which -- more quietly and secretly -- we justify the abuse of born children. The child becomes the scapegoat for our unresolved conflicts. As the Israelites in the Old Testament placed their sins upon the goat, who was then led out into the desert, we allow the child, particularly when still in the womb, to suffer for our sins.

The two forms of child abuse -- on the unborn (abortion) and on the born -- reinforce each other by a mutual causality. Abortion results in more post-partum depression, which inhibits bonding with subsequent children. Conversely, the wounds of abuse are echoed in the essentially self-destructive act of abortion later in life.

In subsequent columns we will examine these connections more fully. It should be noted that we are talking here about psychological dynamics and statistical correlation, and that does not mean that every woman who has had an abortion will be a poor mother.