It’s always tricky for a celibate, unmarried, male priest to write on motherhood. Even still, that is what I am going to attempt to do today. The occasion for writing on this topic is that January is a special month dedicated to Pro-Life. Many people (probably not this blog audience, but many in our larger communities) view the abortion issue solely from the mother’s viewpoint. The conceived, living child is of no concern to most people. If a mother has conceived a child that she doesn’t want, it is her right to go to the abortionist. No other considerations are necessary. This is a tragic error in judgment, because abortion does not make you “unpregnant.” In fact, abortion does something very different to the vocation of motherhood, as we shall see.
Motherhood is a unique and special experience amongst all the relationships of life. From the moment of conception, that human being is connected with his or her mother. There is a physical bond between a child and its mother that is real and special. A mother brings her child into life, and fosters that life’s growth throughout childhood, even into adulthood. A mother can both provide a home for her children, and encourage them to venture out into the world to start a home of their own. Motherhood is sacrifice from start to finish. But women have a unique capacity to love and nurture life. It is an essential part of a woman’s life, even for single persons and vowed celibates who do not have children.
Abortion, then, directly attacks that unique capacity for feminine love and acceptance. Most abortions (probably all, I would imagine) follow either a sexual sin or a sexual accident of some kind. In our culture, we have destroyed the sense of sex as best given in a permanent, vowed relationship. Such boundaries are seen as a barrier to the “joys of sex”. Imagine if having sex came with all the strings of marriage attached? What an unthinkable downer, many say. So, sex is taken outside of marriage, with its commitments and sacrificial realities, for the purpose of its “enjoyment”. But, mere physical feelings are no substitute for enduring relationship! I think this is especially true for women. Is “sexyness” really a fitting substitute for being a wife and a mother?
In truth, abortion, and the lustful activities that cause a need for an abortion, really degrade motherhood and women. Women who abort lose sever ties with that which makes them truly feminine. Women who abort fail to see that a second opportunity has been given to them by their unborn child. Yes, maybe they made an extremely bad sexual decision that has led them to a crisis situation. But the child inside of them is an opportunity to see that not even a bad sexual decision can overcome the possibility of maternal love. For abortion does not make a woman “unpregnant”. Abortion makes a woman the mother of a dead child for the rest of her life.
Maybe it is our charge in the pro-life movement today to become better advocates for chaste sexual love and motherhood (true fatherhood too!). If we focus too much on the humanity of the unwanted child, we might miss the violence that abortion does to mothers and fathers. Abortion would decrease dramatically if people were more chaste than they are. Abortion would decrease dramatically if people were less afraid to get married and become parents. Abortion is primarily about despair. It is an offering to the demon of despair. I believe in hope. And is there anything more hopeful than the sight of a pregnant mother? I don’t think so….