Defending Life after 100 Years of Legal Abortion
In her apparition to Sister Lucia on July 13, 1917, Our Lady of Fatima told her, “Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, raising up wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be annihilated.”
This statement has generally been interpreted as referring to the error of communism. Russia did indeed spread this horrific error throughout the world. The result was global warfare and untold suffering, death, starvation, and loss of basic freedoms.
However, it’s important to realize that communism is much more than just a political error. It is also a religious, ethical, social, and human error. The communist ideology does not view human beings as unique persons made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore of inestimable worth. Instead within communism the state, rather than the individual, is viewed as the highest good.
As Pope St. John Paul II, a great opponent of the communist ideology, wrote in Centessimus Annus: “[T]he fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature. Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism.”
Such a view of the human person comes with innumerable pernicious consequences, of which the horrors of the Gulag are but one example. As I have often observed, the entire culture of death rests on the rotten foundation of the denial of the intrinsic, God-given worth of every person.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the communist Soviet Union was the first nation in the world to legalize abortion, in 1920. In just two days, we will be commemorating the grim 100th anniversary of Lenin’s decision to allow child-killing in the Soviet Union – November 18, 1920.
The Abortion Mentality
Within Russia, the effect of the legalization of abortion was catastrophic. In time, Russia would earn the horrific distinction of having the highest abortion to live birth ratio in the world – at a staggering three to one. That is, for every one baby that was born alive, another three babies were aborted.
The number of abortions in the Soviet Union eventually reached such staggering heights that Josef Stalin outlawed abortion in 1936. This was not because he respected human life, but rather because he saw that it was weakening his nation and decimating the population of Russia, which was already dropping due to the various purges and the starvation of millions. Even after Stalin’s decision, however, illegal abortions continued on a wide scale, until abortion was legalized again after his death in 1954.
In the wake of the Soviet Union’s decision to legalize abortion on an industrial scale, child-killing has spread like a malignant cancer. Over 130 nations have legalized abortion, sanctioning the murder of over 40,000 unborn children every day globally. Since the U.S. legalized abortion, it is estimated that 62-67 million innocent unborn children have lost their lives to the violent crime of abortion.
Abortion is the number one cause of death globally. It is estimated that in the last 100 years, over one billion unborn children have been murdered through the vicious crime of abortion. Throughout the world, the entire societal mentality has been shifted, so that the murderous and criminal act of abortion has now become a normal part of life.
A “mentality” is an attitude of mind, a way of thinking. It is established when a person, group, or society reacts automatically to a situation without thinking of the consequences. A “mentality” is very difficult to correct since it is shielded by unconscious assumptions and preserved by consistent behavior and habit.
As the Catechism states: “Sin creates a proclivity to sin; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts. This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgment of good and evil. Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense at its root.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1865)
When the Soviet Union legalized industrial-scale abortion 100 years ago, it set the example for the entire world, laying the groundwork for the abortion mentality to spread. It first charted the course that so many other nations would soon follow. Indeed, the Soviet decree legalizing abortion is a kind of diabolical masterclass in the kind of duplicitous argumentation that would soon be imitated by pro-abortion activists globally to legalize abortion.
Outlawing abortion, the government memo stated, has simply “driven the operation [i.e. abortion] underground and made the woman a victim of mercenary and often ignorant quacks who make a profession of secret operations.” As a consequence, the memo claimed, women are dying from illegal abortions. This is the infamous “back alley abortion” argument. While stating that abortion is “evil,” the memo goes on to state that the government will nevertheless legalize abortion, because the government is “anxious to protect the health of the women.”
The government decree also goes on to claim that, under the Soviet regime, the government expects the “gradual disappearance of [abortion].” Of course, this was an absurd fiction. Abortion did not disappear in the Soviet Union. Instead, it became so widespread that even Stalin had to try to curtail it, lest his country implode from the inside. Untold millions of children were aborted, and their mothers suffered the physical, psychological, and spiritual wounds that inevitably follow abortion. And so, it has gone in every single country that subsequently legalized abortion, using the same arguments as the Soviet government.
The Soviet Union sowed the wind, and now the world is reaping the whirlwind. Russia has, indeed, spread its errors throughout the world.
Commemorating Russia’s Grim Reality
The great defender of life and the family, Pope St. John Paul II, called upon each of us to activate a “great campaign in support of life” saying that there must be a “vigorous reaffirmation of the value of human life and its inviolability, and at the same time a pressing appeal addressed to each and every person, in the name of God: respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life!”
The holy pontiff added, “Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!”
In order to break the perverse cycle, we must awaken the conscience of society to the violence of abortion and its destructive mentality.
For this reason, HLI’s team of pro-lifers in collaboration with other international pro-life leaders is organizing world prayer vigils for the protection of all unborn children, as well as days of repentance from November 18-21.
We are encouraging pro-lifers all over the world to help organize Holy Masses, Eucharistic Adoration, Rosary Processions, or any other form of prayer gathering which corresponds to the possibilities within their respective faith communities. If it is not possible to organize a group activity, then each person can unite themselves in prayer to the various programs occurring around the world.
Evil sows division and chaos and thrives upon our lack of unity on this preeminent issue, which impacts not only the beginning of life but life at every stage. We need to break the cycle of apathy and awaken the conscience of society and every individual to this evil. The culture of death would have us be silent and accept what “is.” But we cannot be silent as long as a single life is threatened.
In the U.S., as in many western countries, progressives and social deconstructionists are seeking ways to further indoctrinate citizens to accept and normalize the violence and crime of abortion, while also making it more difficult for us to exercise our religious freedom and freedom of speech. These prayer vigils will help prick the conscience.
I believe fervent prayer, acts of penance, and social awareness can save many unborn children, bring about changes in the abortion culture at a global level, and accomplish what Pope St. John Paul II called a Culture of Life.
International pro-life leaders are especially asking that November 18th be a Day of Repentance, calling all to acknowledge personal and national sins that have allowed the evil of abortion to perpetuate itself.
Ultimately, there is only one answer to the abortion holocaust: We must turn back to God. It is up to each of us to set an example of repentance, amendment, and conversion.
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Father Shenan J. Boquet was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI as its President in August 2011. Father Boquet earned a BA from Saint Joseph Seminary College, a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Notre Dame Seminary Graduate School of Theology, a Certification Program in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and a Master of Science in Bioethics (MSBe) from the University of Mary in Bismarck. In 2018, Father Boquet was awarded an honorary visiting professorship by the Benedict XVI Catholic University in Trujillo, Peru. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing email@example.com.