A few months ago I went to a talk given by a fairly prominent pro-life leader. In his talk he spoke of what he believed our attitudes towards abortion-minded people should be when we're approaching them. With one of those attitudes I take exception. He stated that we should be prepared to assume no malice, to presume good will and even "make excuses" for them. He went on to say that Jesus, while being crucified, "made excuses" for His tormentors when He prayed, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do". His analogy was flat out wrong.
Jesus never "made excuses" for His tormentors. He, being God, had divine knowledge of what was in the hearts of those crucifying Him (see John 2:24-25). His statement was not mere presumption but a statement of fact that only He, as the Second Person of the Trinity, could know. I then thought of the example of Stephen, the first martyr. When he prayed his prayer of forgiveness on the brink of his own death, he prayed, "Lord, hold not this sin against them". Notice that Stephen acknowledged the objectively sinful nature of the evil that was being inflicted upon him. While he didn't accuse them, neither did he presume to "make excuses".
I think this has great relevance for a troubling trend that I'm seeing among pro-life activists and leaders. That trend is to cast all women having abortion as being strictly victims of circumstances beyond their control, be it overbearing family members, economic hardship, whatever. Please understand - I'm sure that is true for a great many of these women - but not all. I'm taking exception with the trend that I'm seeing of late to paint all abortion-bound people with this broad brush of victim-hood. To illustrate, I do see way too many women walk into the mills who are obviously brow-beat by their boyfriends, parents, etc. Yet I've seen other women bound and determined to "take care of this shit" (a direct quote) while their boyfriends are following them in tears, begging the women for the lives of their babies.
I fear that I'm seeing this broad brush being brandished in the handling of the deaths of both Jennifer Morbelli and her baby girl at the hands of Leroy Carhart. There have been two press conferences. In both these press conferences we see numerous references to the grief that her family is bearing (and no doubt they are) and many prayers for their solace and peace. I have heard no such prayer for their repentance for their roles in the two deaths. Let's get real. We're fools if we really believe that family didn't have some degree of culpability for their deaths. The common theme of those talks is that Leroy Carhart bears sole responsibility for their deaths. Of course he bears a majority of the blame. But let's face this. Carhart would not have touched Jennifer and Madison if the family never walked into his abortuary, plunked down their money and asked him to murder Madison. He was the paid "hit-man" to be sure - but who paid him???
I was involved in a rather raucous discussion on this matter in Facebook. Some argued that this woman must not have realized the humanity of the baby. I find that difficult to believe. The baby was 33 weeks along - no doubt she was kicking and moving about in Jennifer's womb. I'm willing to bet they saw routine sonograms. They named her Madison. Moreover, during the week they were reporting to Carhart's office, sidewalk counselors tried to offer her and her family both offers of assistance and warning of the dangers of this procedure. I understand from some of those counselors that they all rebuffed those warning rather angrily. For this rejection of knowledge they now bear the ultimate consequences.
I say this not to minimize the pain that the Morbellis and McKennas are undergoing. However, if there is to be true peace and solace, it can only come about if they face up to their own grievous roles in the debacle of last week, repent and seek out the Sacrament of Confession. Where were the public prayers for that???? This is not "condemning" or "judging" but an attempt to acknowledge truth and not to offer false compassion rooted in sentimentality that will do nothing to restore a state of grace. I understand that a priest was with Jennifer; I pray that she was disposed to receive absolution.
In using the "victim" language and tip-toeing around crucial spiritual issues, I suspect some are merely trying to win the sympathy of the culture at large. Ain't gonna happen! We cannot try to "speak their language" for when we use "their language" we adopt their thinking. We have to define the language and the thinking. Rather, we must preach the Gospel unabashedly rather than try to nod to political correctness.
I'll end this by linking to a story from Jill Stanek's blog about a young woman in dire circumstances who refused to be a victim - or to be seen as such. Here is Anna.