Dismemberment. Decapitation. Death.
The three "Ds" of abortion were the somber topic of a pro-life lesson presented to Cardinal Ritter High School juniors and seniors on March 1 by an internationally known priest from New York.
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, spoke to upperclass students at the Indianapolis West Deanery interparochial high school last Friday afternoon during a visit to the archdiocese arranged by Right to Life of Indianapolis and the St. Gerard Guild.
The priest also talked with seventh and eighth-grade students at St. Thomas Aquinas School in Indianapolis that morning and was the keynote speaker for the "A Celebration of Life" dinner that night at the Westin Hotel. (See a related story.)
At Ritter, Father Pavone discussed how the entertainment industry and the media have influenced public acceptance of abortion, but have never produced or broadcast educational documentaries showing the horror of abortion procedures and the brutal destruction of the unborn child.
He also showed the teenagers a medical book of surgical techniques which describes various abortion procedures with words like "dismemberment" and "decapitation." Next he displayed a textbook of prenatal treatment methods designed to save the lives of preborn babies.
"During the Civil War, our nation was torn apart over the topic of slavery, with people arguing back and forth on both sides of the question," Father Pavone told the students. "But this country was founded on the principle that all people are equal. Slavery was wrong and was an insult to humanity. It's amazing how many parallels there are in terms of slavery and human rights and what is happening now in our country when it comes to the controversy over abortion."
Before people can talk about issues and have intelligent conversations, he said, it is necessary to define and understand the discussion topics.
"If you have a class on trigonometry," Father Pavone said, "the course has to start by explaining what trigonometry is and the concepts involved. Now, in this country, we not only have a situation where people disagree about whether abortion should be allowed or not, but we also have a situation where people can't even agree about what it is. If we're going to talk about abortion, we have to talk about exactly what it is. However, a lot of people dodge that very question."
Abortion is the most common surgery in America, he said, but most people don't understand the tragic reality of abortion and haven't seen photographs of aborted babies.
"I've heard people describe abortion as 'the termination of a pregnancy,' " Father Pavone said. "But so is birth. Every pregnancy terminates, either in life or in death. Abortion terminates a pregnancy by terminating the life that is growing inside the pregnant woman. But unless we face up to the fact that abortion destroys a human baby, we are not dealing with facts, we are not living in reality. And we are never going to solve our nation's problems unless we face up to reality."
When people ask why pro-life supporters use "inflammatory rhetoric about dismembering babies" to talk about abortion, the priest said, "I say to them, 'If you don't like what I'm saying, don't listen to me. Listen to him, the man who wrote this book on abortion practices. He's an expert on abortion. He obviously believes its OK because he does it and he teaches others how to do it. But do you know what he calls abortion? He uses the word dismemberment in this book, and he describes how the arms and the legs are torn off the little baby and the head is crushed. If you want to know what an abortion is, read about it in a medical textbook.' "
Americans value freedom, rights and choices, he said. "It makes us feel good to talk about those things. It doesn't make us feel good to talk about dismemberment and the crushing of heads. But there's no getting away from the fact that that is exactly what is happening every day in America. An abortion is performed every 20 seconds of every day. There is no disease, no epidemic, no crime, no natural disaster, no war that has ever claimed more human lives than that. We have destroyed more lives in one year from abortion than have ever been destroyed by the wars that America has fought in over 220 years. That's a statistical fact."
The good news of the pro-life movement is that there are many avenues of help at support for women of all ages who are facing crisis pregnancies, he said. "Help is available for women and babies."
Women facing crisis pregnancies can call the archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life Activities at 1-800-382-9836, extension 1569; St. Elizabeth's at 317-787-3412; Birthline at 317-635-4808; the Adoption Support Center at 800-274-1084; or the Nurturing Network at 800-TNN-4-MOM