In recent years, more information has
been uncovered about the effects of abortion on women. Post Abortion Stress
Syndrome, (PASS) is becoming more widely recognized by the medical profession.
Drug abuse is an increasing problem among post-abortive women. A study by
the Elliot Institute found that women who aborted their first pregnancy are
nearly four times more likely to begin abusing drugs. Out of the women surveyed,
the majority attributed their substance abuse to an attempt at coping with their
abortion. From the statistics gathered in the study, it was concluded that
54,000 women begin to abuse drugs as a result of an abortion. Teenagers were
found to be especially at risk for becoming drug abusers after aborting.
The abuse of drugs is widely known to be destructive, both physically and
emotionally. An increase of promiscuity has been proven by several studies, as
well as an increase in Sexually Transmitted Diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS.
Other serious effects of drug abuse can include depression, job-related
difficulties, relationship problems, and severe health problems.
A related study of post-abortive women found that they are more likely to
abuse drugs during subsequent pregnancies. Out of 137 pregnant drug abusers,
each woman had an average of 1.5 abortions. A destructive pattern is formed:
drug abuse results from a need to escape the pain of an abortion, and becoming
pregnant again "replaces" the child lost to abortion. Drug abuse is extremely
harmful to an unborn child, and the possibility then exists of miscarriage or
severe birth defects. In addition, teen mothers who had prior abortions were
nearly three times as likely to report being involved in physical fights and/or
Furthermore, studies have shown that the severity of drug abuse is
increased with each repeat abortion. Since nearly half of all aborted women have
repeat abortions, this represents a significant group. With each abortion comes
an added amount of anxiety, depression, and quite possibly substance abuse.
In addition to drug rehabilitation programs, these women need
post-abortion counseling. Otherwise, the root of their substance abuse may not
Preaching on Abortion in the Easter Season
The Easter season provides rich opportunity for preaching on the subject
of abortion. Following are some perspectives that can provide a launching point
for the development of homilies:
* Easter is the season of the victory of life. When Christ rose from the
dead, He did not simply conquer His own death; He conquered ours. "Dying
you destroyed our death; rising you restored our life." Christ overturned the
entire kingdom of death, and robbed it of its power. Because the kingdom of
death includes abortion, the victory of Easter includes victory over abortion.
It is the basis of our confident proclamation and service of the Gospel of Life.
* Baptismal vows are renewed at Easter, and the Baptismal water is a key
symbol in the Easter season. These vows include the rejection of sin, with all
its allurements and deceptions. The mentality behind abortion is one such
deception. Renewing baptismal vows includes renewing our commitment to the
sanctity of life. It requires the rejection of the "pro-choice" mentality, which
is totally inconsistent with a resolve to be conformed to Christ.
* The Church proclaims that Christ rose in His human body. "Touch me and see!
A ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have" (Luke 24:39). The
resurrection of the bodies of the dead at the end of time is also a doctrine of
the faith. The body is personal. A human being is not a spirit who uses a body,
but rather a unity of body and soul. This has immense bearing on the abortion
problem, because many deny the significance of the body and therefore the
significance of the destruction of the body. "I'm giving the child back to God"
is a statement heard fairly often from those about to have abortions. "I don't
know when the child receives a soul" is a statement often heard from those who
perform abortions. Both statements bypass entirely the importance of the body
and what happens to it. The doctrine of bodily resurrection is a powerful
antidote to such an attitude.
Priests for Life provides camera-ready sheets of bulletin inserts on
various aspects of abortion and euthanasia. Write to us at PO Box 141172, Staten
Island, NY 10314 to order them. Following are some of the newest ones:
- Sarah Smith is a young woman from California who survived an abortion after
her twin brother was aborted. She now speaks publicly for the pro-life cause,
and declares, "My mother's 'choice' was my death sentence." Sarah helps us put a
face on the abortion issue. It's not about abstract concepts; it's about real
people being destroyed.
- For Catholics, public virtue is as important as private virtue in building
up the common good. In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a
virtue; participation in the political process is a moral obligation. Every
believer is called to faithful citizenship, to become an informed, active, and
responsible participant in the political process. As we said a year ago, "We
encourage all citizens, particularly Catholics, to embrace their
citizenship not merely as a duty and privilege, but as an opportunity [more
fully] to participate in building the culture of life. Every voice matters in
the public forum. Every vote counts. Every act of responsible citizenship is an
exercise of significant individual power" (US Bishops: Faithful Citizenship -
Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium, 1999).
- Every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. The
conviction that human life is sacred and that each person has inherent dignity
that must be respected in society lies at the heart of Catholic social teaching.
Calls to advance human rights are illusions if the right to life itself is
subject to attack. We believe that every human life is sacred from conception to
natural death; that people are more important than things; and that the measure
of every institution is whether or not it enhances the life and dignity of the
human person. (US Bishops: Faithful Citizenship - Civic Responsibility for a New
- "It is above all in raising children that the family fulfils its mission to
proclaim the Gospel of life.... The family celebrates the Gospel of life through
daily prayer, both individual prayer and family prayer. The family prays in
order to glorify and give thanks to God for the gift of life, and implores his
light and strength in order to face times of difficulty and suffering without
losing hope. But the celebration which gives meaning to every other form of
prayer and worship is found in the family's actual daily life together, if it is
a life of love and self-giving" (Pope John Paul II: The Gospel of Life,
We invite you to remember the following intentions as you pray the
Liturgy of the Hours:
March intention: That adequate training in pain management options be given
to medical professionals.
April intention: That Lenten penance and Easter joy will strengthen the
pro-life commitment of God's people.
A former Pro-choicer
The Priests for Life office recently received this email about Fr.
Frank's Defending Life series:
"God bless you and all the people who are fighting for the lives of these
innocent children. I have been deeply touched by your words. A couple of years
ago I first saw you on EWTN, and I heard you speaking about the right to life.
I…never fully understood or fully agreed with all of the positions of the
Catholic Church. However, something (probably God) allowed me to be flipping
through the channels, when you were on. Something you said grabbed my attention,
and I stayed tuned.
I was always pro-choice, and I had "dug my heels in deeper" every time a
clinic was bombed. I thought "What kind of pro life is this, anyway, is it only
for certain circumstances?"
Well, in the few minutes I heard you speak, something moved me to look inward
and reevaluate my position, and over time I gradually changed my position: now I
can say that I am against abortion.
I feel that the main reason I was able to change is that God worked through
you to reach me, and I have such gratitude for that. You are gifted with
eloquence and a commanding presence. You seem to have so much passion and
enthusiasm for your work, it really moved me."
"Life and Choice," a booklet containing two years' worth of the published
columns of Fr. Frank Pavone. Great material for bulletins, homilies, adult
education, students, or simply personal enrichment in relating the abortion
problem with common sense and the Catholic Faith. Contact our main office to
order. You can also obtain our regular columns on our website,
www.priestsforlife.org … "I want to be a member of your fine organization.
..Your web page is great. So are your written products. Keep up the good work."
- Deacon Gene Townsend
Priests for Life encourages the Gabriel Project, an effort by
which the local parish becomes a herald of the good news that there are
alternatives to abortion, and calls upon the generosity of its congregation to
meet the needs of those who come forward. This effort does not replace
local pregnancy assistance centers; it simply activates the Church to be an
agent of practical charity. Following is one of many testimonies regarding this
project. Contact us for more details at Gabriel Info, PO Box 141172, Staten
Island, NY 10314.
Deacon Robert Whitaker is a permanent deacon of the Washington
Archdiocese where he serves at St. Ann’s Catholic Church. He was ordained in
1993, and is originally from Florida. His parish was the first in Washington,
D.C., to introduce the Gabriel Project.
In 1997, Deacon Whitaker was approached by a single mother of his parish.
This young woman relied on her father’s financial support, and when she told him
that she was again pregnant, he threatened to withdraw his help if she did not
abort. Since the deacon had been trained in crisis center work, he knew the best
thing to do was to ask her for some time to think about her dilemma. Deacon
Whitaker started calling all of his pro-life contacts, and that is when he came
across the Gabriel Project. After three days, he received a call from a complete
stranger, offering to pay the rent of this young mother.
Prompted by this success story, St. Ann’s then became a Gabriel Project
Parish. Initially, St. Ann’s parish had eighty volunteers sign up to offer their
help. Since the official start of the Gabriel Project on Mother’s Day, 1997,
twenty-two babies have been born to mother’s whom they have helped.
According to Deacon Whitaker, the Gabriel Project exists to help local crisis
pregnancy centers serve the needs of their clients. By utilizing the talents and
resources of the laity, specific needs of individual mothers can be more easily
met. Clergy are encouraged to oversee and advise these efforts, but the Gabriel
Project relies on the lay members of a parish.
In addition to the Gabriel Project, Deacon Whitaker encourages clergy to be
more active in Project Rachel, a post-abortion ministry, and also hosting
ecumenical meetings for area-wide pro-life activities to encourage cooperation
in the Christian Community.
Priest Profile- Fr. Dennis C. Day
By Anthony DeStefano, Executive Director
The son of a gold miner, Fr. Dennis C. Day, Treasurer of the National Right
to Life Committee and pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Sandpoint, Ohio, knows well
the value of hard, back-breaking labor. Indeed, his whole life has been
characterized by a devotion to the most difficult work possible--- the defense
of the unborn.
Born in Boise, Idaho, in 1950, of "pioneer stock," Fr. Day wanted to become a
priest from as far back as he can remember. "I had an absolutely wonderful
childhood," he says. "My parents instilled in me a great love for the Church and
a tremendous work ethic. I went into Mt. Angel Seminary in Oregon right after 8th
grade." Following two years at St. Meinrad College in Indiana, and four at
Catholic University in Washington, D.C., Fr. Day was ordained to the priesthood
in 1976. He then served in parish assignments in Boise, Emmett and Eagle, Idaho,
plus a two-year term as President of Bishop Kelly High School in Boise. He was
named pastor of St. Joseph’s in 1996 and remains in that position today.
Fr. Day’s involvement in the pro-life movement began in 1974, when he
attended the very first March For Life in Washington D.C. Feeling a great call
to pro-life work, he started organizing events and activities in the Boise area
and, in so doing, became the "unofficial" pro-life coordinator of the diocese.
In 1978, Bishop Sylvester Treinen, recognizing his outstanding work, named Fr.
Day the official diocesan Pro-life Director, a position he held till 1995.
In 1980, Fr. Day attended a National Right to Life Convention and says,
"something clicked" in his mind. "Seeing all the diverse, inter and
non-denominational, groups of people at the conference, many of whom disagreed
with each other strongly on a whole range of other issues, I realized that the
pro-life struggle could be a great force for unity in this country. After all,
this was something we could agree on, this was an issue that we could
work together on."
He became the Director of Ohio NRLC in 1982, and was named to the National
Executive Committee in 1986. In 1995, the Board of NRLC elected him Treasurer.
"The key to winning this struggle," Fr. Day believes, "is persistence. We
must be ‘stubborn on behalf of Life,’ and that means that we have to keep up our
efforts throughout both the victories and defeats, the triumphs and disasters.
One of the best ways we can do that is to make sure the troops on the front
lines have the resources they need to do their work. In the pro-life movement
today, there is no shortage of ideas, and no shortage of energy. What’s always
been missing is the resources. Wouldn’t it be great if every single priest and
every single pro-lifer gave $100 a month to their local NRLC Chapter? They may
not have the time to attend all the meetings, but if they at least supported us,
financially, we’d finally have the resources we need to get the job done."
Why is Fr. Day so devoted to pro-life work? "Well," he answers, laughing, "I
keep picturing myself on Judgement Day, and when I stand before God, I’m
counting on the fact that there will be a host of little ones on my side. I
guess I’m hoping that they’ll be able to get me in on one of the lower rungs."
Fr. Day can be reached at St. Joseph Parish, P.O. Box 279, Sandpoint, Idaho,
83864, phone: (208) 263-3720, or at the office of the National Right to Life
Committee, Inc., 419 7th St. N.W., Washington, D.C., 20004, phone:
(202)626-8800, fax: (202) 737-9189.