I recently had a conversation with a woman named Laura, who volunteers in the mail room at Priests for Life. She told me an interesting story about her son, Salvatore, who was born in 1973, the year Roe. Vs. Wade legalized abortion.
After she had given birth and was in the hospital recovering from her caesarian section, she was struck by the fact that even though the maternity ward seemed to be full of women, there were no other newborn babies around except hers. In fact, her infant son was all alone in a room full of empty incubators. It was a strange and almost eerie site.
One morning, Laura was awakened by screaming and moaning coming from down the hall. Thinking it was simply the labor pains of other women giving birth, she asked the nurse why someone didn’t help them. The nurse replied matter-of-factly: “Oh they’re not in labor. They’re having abortions. They didn’t think it would hurt.”
It turned out that the hospital Laura was in specialized in providing abortions, and following the 1973 Supreme Court decision, their business was booming.
The image of that ghostly maternity ward, devoid of all but one, solitary child; devoid of all the happy sounds of crying, newborn babies, with only the agonized sobbing of post-abortive mothers echoing through the empty corridors, reminded me again of how much emptier our world is because of all the abortions that have taken place since this most horrible of all atrocities was legalized.
And make no mistake, it is the most horrible of all atrocities. Sometimes people in our own Church attempt to trivialize abortion by lumping it together with the other evils of the world—by comparing it with poverty, disease, war, etc. But as the numbers clearly demonstrate, there is no comparison. Since 1973 there have been 50 million abortions in the United States alone. Worldwide, there are 42 million abortions every year. That means that in the last thirty years, there have been over 1.5 billion abortions!
1.5 billion! That’s the equivalent of approximately one quarter of the entire population of the planet! One quarter of the earth’s population, murdered; snuffed out; gone.
There’s a famous poem about Jesus that concludes with the memorable lines: “All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as that One Solitary Life.”
Unfortunately, we can say about abortion:
All the wars ever fought,
All the holocausts ever perpetrated,
All the plagues that ever raged,
All the bombs that ever dropped,
All the famines that ever laid waste to the land, put together, have not killed the number of human beings wiped out by abortion.
And yet, hope endures, because God’s grace abounds, even amidst such devastation.
And what ever happened to Laura’s baby? As she proudly related to me, her son, Fr. Sal, just celebrated his one year anniversary as a priest of the Catholic Church!