Priests for Life member sees abortion, abuse link
"Abortion has lead to an increase of child abuse," claims Father Peter J. West of the pro-life advocacy group Priests for Life. West said that abortion induces feelings of guilt and low self-esteem, noting that "these feelings are found in child batterers."
Seeking to link the two phenomena, West said that cases of reported child abuse had increased 1000 percent since 1973, when the Supreme Court ruling in Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion across the United States.
West spoke on abortion at Mercy Health Center Saturday afternoon.
Priests for Life is a non-profit private association representing over 40,000 Catholic clergy and deacons. The organization focuses on recruiting clergy for pro-life activism and provides training to make them more effective and motivated advocates.
West said that the group's pro-life stance doesn't extend just to the issue of abortion.
"We assist the church in defending life from conception to natural death. We encourage the defense of life in a compassionate manner."
West's talk on Saturday was aimed at nurses, technicians, and interested health care providers. His speech functioned as an awareness-raiser and provided a general overview of the abortion debate from the perspective of pro-life clergy.
He cited from the books of Luke, Jeremiah, and Psalms in order to back up his arguments with scripture.
West sought to refute the argument that a reduction in unwanted pregnancies has improved the harmony of the American family. Instead, he argued that those who have abortions often fall victim to a variety of social pathologies including alcohol abuse and drug abuse.
Late term abortions, sometimes referred to as "partial birth abortions", were also discussed at length.
Partial birth abortions have been hotly debated in Washington, and Clinton has vetoed bills that would have made them illegal on three separate occasions.
In his speech, West said that the American Medical Association had opposed the procedure.
West believes that any legislative loophole, including one allowing women whose health … was endangered by the pregnancy, would be exploited by abortion providers. Therefore, no loopholes should be given.
"A health exception to the bill would be meaningless," West said.
West was ordained for the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, in 1991. He spent seven years in the pastoral ministry before being released for three years to serve with Priests for Life. He currently travels the country trying to raise awareness of both clergy and the public regarding pro-life issues.
West stresses that Priests for Life conducts all of its activities in the Christian spirit.
"What we do is in the context of God's love and God's mercy," West said.