November 21, 1999
Laredo Morning Times
Priests for Life member sees abortion, abuse link
BY JONATHAN BLACK
"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
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
West said that the group's pro-life stance doesn't extend just to the issue
"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
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
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
"What we do is in the context of God's love and God's mercy," West said.