Counter Productive Booklet

This publication, subtitled, “A workshop on Abortion,” was prepared by the Pastoral Team of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Ottawa (CCCB).

The Introduction adopts the rhetoric of the abortionists.  We are told that “the abortion issue is very complex,” that “abortion is a highly emotional issue,” that we are to participate in a discussion about abortion with “compassion, integrity and faith.”  The quoted words, with the obvious exceptions of integrity and faith, are stock-in-trade of those people who always imply that there is a case to be made for abortion.

The document presents material and direction for a workshop which is to promote “discussion of some of the issues (concerning abortion) in light of the Church’s teaching.”  Here, again, abortion is reduced to an “issue,” rather than a crime or an “unspeakable sin,” words used by Pope John Paul II to describe it.

After the introduction, the document is divided into two sections:  Preparation and Workshop. Workshop is divided into three parts: Experience; Reflection; Response.

A general view of the five objectives shows that they promote effective Catholic action in the first, third, fourth and fifth objectives.  However, the second objective espouses the abortionists’ ruse of taking our attention away from the sin of abortion and legitimizing the (non-existent) “complexity” of the abortion “issue.”

In the second Workshop, the recommended procedure relies heavily on consensus as a means of arriving at truth.  Under skillful direction of someone called a “facilitator” (a term which is never explained), the participants are supposed to come to understand why abortions are committed.

This format for discussion is clearly open to abuse.  A skilled facilitator is able to lead a discussion; one determined participant can dominate a discussion; several people who honestly came for instruction in the Church’s teaching on abortion may be thrown back on their own ignorance with no authoritative guidance on Catholic teaching to direct them.

In Part I – Experience, three options for the format of the discussion are offered to the participants.  In Option A, a series of case histories is presented, and the participants are asked to discuss the reasons why a person might consider an abortion.  In Option B, the discussion centres on the factors and people involved in making a decision to have an abortion.  Option C consists of discussing the following statement:

“Some say, it is better for a woman to have an abortion than to have an unwanted child; or to condemn one more child to poverty, to a fatherless home, to an immature mother, or to a life with a disability.  It is not fair to bring a child into the world without any hope for happiness.  Life in itself is not enough; the quality of life is also important.

“Divide into small groups of two or three and discuss this statement considering:

a)      the mother’s position;

b)      the father’s position; and

c)      society’s responsibilities.

Share your discussion with the large group.”

Extreme cases are presented to the participants, and only the social, physical, or economic circumstances of the woman and her family are to be discussed.  The murdered preborn baby is not even mentioned.  Any sympathy is focused exclusively on the woman and her family.

In Part II – Reflection, participants are not asked to evaluate the truth or falsehood of statements, but are asked merely to express their individual agreement or disagreement with these statements.

Finally, in Part III Response, the participants are asked to “brainstorm about what action you will take as a group and individually to protect life at all stages.”  Several of the suggestions for action given in this section are effective and productive.  They were implemented by Campaign Life Coalition and Right to Life groups several years ago.  But by now the program outlined in this document has gone on for something like two-and-a-half hours.  Very few people can be attentive at the end of so long a discussion.

Hugh Loughran teaches English at Applewood Collegiate, Mississauga, Ont.