The nation's most common surgical procedure is a real killer, Father Frank Pavone told students at Bishop McDevitt High School, Harrisburg.
Every 20 seconds, he said, 4,400 times a day, a child dies in the United States by abortion. And the priest said no abortion is necessary because of the emotional, financial and other help available to women with problem pregnancies.
Father Pavone, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York and national director of Priests for Life, works full-time defending the lives of the unborn. He's been on the Eternal Word Television Network and at the invitation of Mother Teresa of Calcutta spoke to priests of India about life issues.
On his September 6 to 8 visit to the diocese, sponsored by the Cathedral Parish of St. Patrick, Harrisburg, Father Pavone also spoke at Trinity High School, Camp Hill, at parishes in Harrisburg, York, Steelton and Hershey and to diocesan priests.
"Life is the basic issue of our day," the priest told McDevitt students. "Everything that concerns us, such as adequate housing and wages, education, crime, health care," he said, is based on "the belief in the dignity of human life."
"If human life doesn't mean anything," he asked, "why is society concerned about drugs, war, and AIDS? If human life doesn't mean anything," he reiterated, "who cares?"
"The insight that there is something special about the human person is being lost, confused by so many in the world today," he said.
"Abortion destroys a human being," the priest stated. "What is scary is not that people don't know that... but that people know it and don't care."
At a demonstration at an abortion facility -- he uses facility rather than clinic, he said, because to him clinic means a place of healing -- Father Pavone saw a man with a sign saying: Keep baby killing legal. "I support abortion rights," he told the priest. "But we have to be honest about what abortion is."
Abortion raises the fundamental questions of what does it mean to be human and can human life be disposed of, Father Pavone commented. "That is the issue that cuts through all life issues," he stated.
Noting that people must be concerned about other life issues, such as, capital punishment, war, and euthanasia, he said defending the unborn is paramount because of the number of unborn children who are killed. He said abortion, not disease, war, or vehicle accidents is the biggest killer in the United States, adding that each year more people die through abortion than have been killed in all the wars in the United States' 220 year history.
He encouraged the students to find out the facts about abortion. He noted that the surest way to be unhappy in life is to deny reality. He added that the reality of abortion is death of unborn children.
Father Pavone said no abortion has to happen. "No one should ever feel their only option is abortion," he stated. "That's not true…Women who are going to have an abortion right now are not going because of freedom of choice," he said. "They're going because they feel they have no choice. They feel desperate, trapped." He told the students to tell anyone considering abortion that there is help -- a job, a place to live, money for legal and medical expenses and other support.
"To be pro-life doesn't mean to love the child and not the mom and dad," the priest stated. "Let's love them all. Let them know there are choices."
Father Pavone told the students that loyalty to friends means helping a friend make choices they can be proud of, not helping them do what is wrong. "Friends don't let friends destroy their children and themselves," the priest said.
He stated that women who consider abortion as the solution to a problem will only find their difficulties compounded. He has autopsy reports on women who have died because of abortions performed in abortion facilities and documents on women who have reproductive problems caused by abortion. "To destroy the child, you're destroying the mom also," he commented, adding that because abortion is legal that doesn't mean it's safe.
He said he has counseled former abortion facility workers who originally did it because they wanted to help women, but they left when they found they were hurting them. He said abortion in the United States is a $500 million a year business. Abortion facility operators don't like prolife protests because it hurts business.
Father Pavone noted the Constitution protects all persons. But courts have excluded the unborn from that protection. He added that government is supposed to protect its citizens' rights, which they have because they're human.
The priest asked the students if they had ever seen surgery on television? Many raised their hands. When he asked if anyone has ever seen a televised abortion, no one raised a hand. He said abortions aren't televised because viewers would see little crushed arms, legs and heads. He noted that the standard medical textbook on abortion use words like dismemberment and decapitation to describe abortion. "It makes people feel good to talk about choice and rights but not about dismemberment," he stated.
Abortion is bad medicine, emotionally and physically for women, Father Pavone stated. It can leave scars in both areas. Fathers suffer too, he added.
"Never be afraid to speak up" about defending life, the priest urged the students. "Unborn children are our brothers and sisters. Never be ashamed to defend them. You will be doing the greatest thing you can do --saving life."
In response to the question of what happens to the bodies of aborted children, Father Pavone said generally they're burned. He added that in some places in the past, the bodies simply had been discarded with trash.
Father Pavone praised McDevitt's pro-life club, the largest group in the school, for its work for the unborn.