By Carol Zimmerman - CNS
The Florida Catholic
February 5, 2004
The pro-life movement, which has long emphasized the of the unborn, is now
also stressing the harm that abortions can cause women, according to
participants Jan. 23 panel discussion.
Society as a whole is beginning to understand the concept that abortion kills
babies but it "still embraces abortion, saying it's good for women," said Cathy
Cleaver Ruse, director of planning and information for the Secretariat for
Pro-Life Activities of the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
She took part in a discussion, "Abortion and the American Woman," at the
Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America. Moderating the
event was Catholic University law professor Helen Alvare, former pro-life
spokeswoman for the bishops.
Ruse noted that women who have begun speaking out about the physical and
emotional pain they endured after having their abortions are "our new prophets
who will bring us to the end of this. These women are the rest of the story."
And these women are talking. They are telling their stories, while holding
signs with the words "I regret my abortion," at rallies across the country. The
rallies are part of the
Silent No More Campaign
launched last year and co-sponsored by the Catholic organization Priests for
Life and the
National Organization of Episcopalians for Life,
known as NOEL.
Panelist Georgette Forney, executive director of NOEL and co-founder of the
Silent No More Campaign, told students and faculty members at Catholic
University that she helped launch the campaign as a means to raise awareness
about the full impact of abortions.
She noted that those who support abortion laws often come across as
pro-woman, while the reality of how women suffer physically and emotionally
after having abortions is never talked about.
Forney knows this all too well because she had an abortion at the age of 16
and at the time, she said, she felt so overwhelmed she "simply shut down the
emotion, denied it and pretended from that moment on that it never happened."
"So many women silently suffer because they think everyone else is OK with
(their abortions). You just don't hear women talking about abortions," she
But with this campaign, she said, a new grass-roots movement is under way and
the prolife movement is beginning to look at why women are having abortions and
what it can do to help them.
Ruse said the last leg that the Roe v. Wade legislation legalizing abortion
is standing on is that many people view it "as the compassionate response to
But she is convinced the women speaking out will change that, primarily
because "it's the ultimate unpolitically correct thing to do, to talk about what
is so acceptable."
Another panelist, Serrin Foster, president of
Feminists for Life, agreed, saying that in the abortion debate it's "so
easy to scream and get into corners," with people on both sides focusing on
divergent points of view, instead of really looking at the women who find
themselves at the center of this debate without the support or resources to see
Ruse noted that in recent surveys women have said that the main reason they
had their abortions was "lack of financial assistance or emotional support."
If nothing else, she said that simply proves that "abortion is a reflection
that we've failed to meet the needs of women."
It is also a wake-up call to help these women, according to Forney.
"The pro-life movement has the resources and the people power," she said. "It
should take its energy from babies to women." - CNS