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By Peter Kwasniewski , LifeSiteNews, May 29, 2018
It is hard to imagine a woman being ignorant about the meaning of pregnancy, namely, that she is now with child, as the rich old saying has it. How many births are spoken of every day… How many barren couples long for children to adopt… How many mothers do people know—beginning with their own!
Yet a constant stream of propaganda has projected a pitch-black shadow of ignorance into millions of minds. If a calm and seemingly reasonable doctor tells a woman that abortion is a simple procedure to remove an unwanted blob of tissue in the same way a cosmetic surgeon removes a mole on the skin, who can say how vast a cloud of darkness this poor woman’s mind has fallen under? She has been led astray by the individual in whom primitive societies always place their unquestioning confidence: the medicine man, the shaman, the witch-doctor. In her state of emotional uncertainty and turmoil, she is an easy victim for reassuring lies. The doctor—or nurse, or clinic advisor, or guidance counselor—has taken advantage of her vulnerability.
On a small British isle, there was a 1910 law defining abortion as homicide and stipulating life imprisonment as punishment. The law was rescinded late in the twentieth century, and now abortion is legal there up to 24 weeks.
This incident, typical of too many others, deserves to be savored by everyone with a capacity for logic. How can something which was once held to be an act of homicide punishable by life imprisonment suddenly be owed to people as their legal right? Can one and the same act be murder and a health decision? And would it not be foolish for someone to say, as if to explain the reason for the change: “Today, we know more about the fetus than was known in 1910”?
Indeed, what we now know is how fully developed a child it is at a very early stage, with all its limbs in place, sleeping, moving around, sucking its thumb, dreaming, possessed of sensation, capable of feeling pain, influenced by moods and music. We also know more about genetics and the development of the embryo from the zygote, and the fetus from the embryo. That which defines human life at the material level is wholly present in the fertilized ovum; the full pattern of the human body coming to be is already there from the first moment. The remaining nine months are the unfolding of a preexistent plan. Everything that takes place after conception is a gradual organic development or unfolding, with no obvious breaking point. Puberty is in some ways a more radical developmental change than the almost imperceptible stages of embryonic growth.
If one makes “viability” the criterion, one is openly admitting the relativity—and wilfulness—of one’s position. Viability is largely a matter of what our technology can accomplish, and abortions are regularly performed long after the current threshold of viability. Thus babies are routinely killed in spite of the fact that they could have survived outside the mother and that the killing of a baby of the same age which had been prematurely born would be prosecuted as murder.
Doesn’t everyone know that a pregnant woman is “a woman with child”? Where does that chubby little boy or girl come from? Is it carried in by a stork on the day of delivery? What about each one of us: after a certain age, are we not aware of our own origins? Does a person in the twenty-first century know more about the basic fact of pregnancy, viz., that a woman is carrying a child, than a person on an island in 1910 knew—or for that matter, someone living in the Middle Ages or the Roman Empire or the Egypt of the Pharaohs?
Of course not. Everyone knows that when a woman becomes pregnant, she is carrying new life, a new human life, a child soon to be born. In the larger picture of things, nine months is not a very long time. If gestation lasted nine years, it might be harder to make the connection between sexual intercourse, conception, and the birth of a child. In reality, everyone knows all about this, without the need for any books or experts. That so many have forgotten—or rather, choose to avert their gaze from—the truth that nature and experience unerringly teach is a sign of the dangerous unworld of unreality into which souls have drifted.
Lord, awaken Thy creatures before it is too late, lest they sleep through the one life you have given us in which to know and love Thee. And help us to awaken them and to remain vigilant ourselves, however difficult it may become.
Peter Kwasniewski holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College in California and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. After teaching at the International Theological Institute in Austria and for the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austrian Program, he joined the founding team of Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming, where he serves as professor and choirmaster.
Dr. Kwasniewski has published five books: Wisdom’s Apprentice (CUA Press, 2007); On Love and Charity (CUA Press, 2008); Sacred Choral Works (Corpus Christi Watershed, 2014); Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church (Angelico Press, 2014); and most recently, Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness: Why the Modern Age Needs the Mass of Ages (Angelico Press, 2017). Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis has also been published in Czech, Polish, and German, will soon appear in Spanish and Portuguese, and is being translated into Italian, French, and Belarusian.
Kwasniewski is a board member and scholar of The Aquinas Institute for the Study of Sacred Doctrine, which is publishing the Opera Omnia of the Angelic Doctor, and a Fellow of the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies. He has published over 500 articles on Thomistic thought, sacramental and liturgical theology, the history and aesthetics of music, and the social doctrine of the Church.