Violence begets violence. It’s a self-evident truth known to man. And after almost 30 years of legalized abortion on demand in North America, should anyone really be surprised to see that life, which has been entrusted to mankind as a gift, is under attack, not only in the womb, but also throughout the entire human race?

For decades, abortionist and secular humanist Henry Morgentaler has claimed that the right to abort “unwanted” children has lead to a healthier, more civilized and compassionate society. Crime rates are down, he claims, because there are fewer rage-filled people in this world, whose births were not intended. He prides himself on having contributed to this accomplishment.

Yet beyond the language of illusion created by abortion advocates there remains a contradictory reality, which cannot be reconciled through statistics, personal testimonies or academic research. Abortion, above and beyond its most obvious casualty, the unborn, has paved the way for a “profound crisis in culture,” as Pope John Paul II has referred to it. In this culture of death it becomes clear that if one can justify violence in the womb, one will likewise mitigate personal and societal responsibility toward the brutality that takes place outside a woman’s body.

Often, those who suffer most are children. They suffer in the form of abuse that can be linked directly to society’s permissive attitude toward the unborn.

“Every child a wanted child!” This pro-abortion rallying cry originated in the early days of the struggle to secure “freedom of choice” for all women. The thinking is that if children are properly planned and brought into the world after much time and consideration, these children will be loved more completely and treated with a higher level of dignity.

There is a great delusion at the heart of this slogan, which establishes a foundation for the eventual acceptance of child abuse. David Reardon’s Aborted Women, Silent No Morearticulates this well. “Society is beginning to believe that a child has no right to exist and is therefore valued only when it is wanted. If it is permissible to kill an unwanted, unborn child, then no one can [object to] killing children already born when they are no longer considered valuable.”

Even though abortion must be firmly understood as the direct taking of an innocent human life – an act which is gravely immoral – that is not to say that all women who have abortions are cruel and unloving people destined to abuse their children. But it is clear that in the act of abortion, hearts are hardened to the great need to protect the dignity of all human life. Instead, life becomes seen as a commodity to be manipulated to man’s own purpose and desires, as the Pope comments in his encyclical letter, The Gospel of Life. If a baby can be eliminated through a quick operation, simply because it was conceived at an inconvenient time, why would it not seem logical that parents with this mindset might find further ways to diminish the trials and sufferings of raising children?

Stephen Schwarz notes in his book, The Moral Question of Abortion that the basic flaw in this pro-abortion argument is that it avoids the question of when life in fact begins. The idea that one should not bring an “unwanted” child into the world is ludicrous, he argues, because an unborn child is already in the world. Abortion does not prevent this child from coming into the world. It kills the child. And it is never morally acceptable to kill one person for the sake of benefiting another, or even the whole of society.

“Abortion and child abuse go together,” Schwarz writes. “Each represents the loss of reverence for a human person, the willingness to use violence against him.”

Likewise, there are no ethical grounds to assume that the rights and desires of an adult ought to take precedence over that of a child. Regardless of one’s financial status, upbringing or marital state, abortion is clearly not the answer to the cycle of child abuse existing in certain families and cultures. It often appears that those children who are considered most “wanted” by their parents, are wanted for the wrong reasons, and end up being abused because they have failed to fulfill some need or desire of the parents.

The extensive research of Dr. Philip Ney, a well-known psychiatrist from British Columbia, has established a strong link between post-abortion trauma and child abuse.

“Statistically speaking,” he says, “women who have had abortions are less likely to bond to their children, and therefore these children are more likely to be abused and neglected. Also, women who were abused and neglected as children are more likely to have abortions.”

Ney’s book, Deeply Damaged: An Explanation for the Profound Problems Arising From Aborting Babies and Abusing Children is a culmination of his studies regarding abortion’s influence on society as a whole. He highlights guilt, low self-esteem and anger as three main reasons why post-abortive women often batter their children.

Ney argues that abortion decreases a person’s restraint in times of rage against persons in their care, it weakens the social taboo against harming the defenseless, it increases antagonism between generations, and devalues children, which adds to an increased neglect of the most innocent members of society.

If abortion-rights advocates could defend themselves with tangible evidence, perhaps the “Every child a wanted child” slogan could hold its own weight. But study after study has indicated that the rise in acceptance of abortion has led to a lack of respect for all human life. The United States Department of Health and Human Services has recorded a 600 per cent increase in child abuse cases since the legalization of abortion in 1973. During 1975 alone, child battery in New York rose from 18 to 20 per cent, according to the testimony of experts before the U.S. Senate. In Canada, Ney’s research proves that the provinces with the most abortions, like Ontario, also have the highest rate of child abuse.

Incidentally, it is not only typically conservative pro-lifers who maintain the link between abortion and child abuse. Dr. Judith Boss, assistant director of curriculum affairs at Brown University School of Medicine in Rhode Island, has documented what she calls “doublethink,” in an article for Public Affairs Quarterly in April of 1993. Her work developed out of her personal encounter with the pro-abortion mentality.

“I had an ‘unplanned’ pregnancy when I was an undergraduate and attempted, unsuccessfully, an abortion on my own,” she told The Interim in a recent interview. “The later realization that the problem was not motherhood, but the college’s policy which made it difficult for mothers to attend college, started me thinking a bit.”

Boss’ own experience with the pro-abortion movement came into question when her daughter was in high school. A neighbour, whom she was aware had recently aborted, began to abuse her young daughter. Curious about the situation, Boss began her own research into the argument that abortion prevents child abuse.

“I called the state department of child and family services and looked at other statistics on child abuse and abortion and realized that they did not support their claim,” she said. “I was also teaching ethics part-time and, with my class, was looking at moral arguments on both sides of the abortion issue. It was at this point that I realized I could no longer justify a pro-choice position.”

Boss says that “prior to 1973 the reported rate of child abuse was relatively stable. Between 1977 and 1980 alone there was a 566 per cent increase in reported incidents of child abuse.”

Though she wouldn’t call herself an atheist, Boss does not consider herself a Christian, and candidly shares that religion had no part in how she came to be pro-life. For her, abortion is simply an issue of morality. A specialist in social ethics, Boss has explored what she calls “mental gymnastics” stemming from “doublethink,” an Orwellian notion that one can simultaneously hold two contradictory beliefs.

Her article, “Pro-Child/Pro-Choice: An Exercise in Doublethink?” articulates the assumption underlying the “Every child a wanted child” mindset. The idea that children are benefitted by being killed if they are unwanted is poor logic and moral ignorance. “In no other case do we kill potential victims of crime for their own sake,” she writes. “To do so contradicts all that for which our criminal justice system stands. However, defenders of the ‘pro-child/pro-choice’ stance could counter that since the fetus is not really a person, let alone a child, they cannot be benefitted or harmed. But even if one denies that the fetus is a person, this still leaves us with the second category of children who might be benefitted by abortion-on-demand – children after birth.”

According to her research, the whole idea of a woman’s “right to privacy” – on which the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade was based – only alienates a woman in a crisis pregnancy from society, by creating feelings of abandonment.

If all this is true – and the evidence is far too blatant to be considered otherwise – then it is also true that abortion can never in fact be something to be left between a woman and her doctor. Former UCLA law professor John T. Noonan notes this well in his book A Private Choice. He writes, “Each act of abortion bears on the structure of marriage and the family, the role and duty of parents, the limitations of the paternal part in procreation and the virtues that characterize a mother.”

Inasmuch as a woman’s instinct to protect and care for her child is undermined by abortion, abortion causes the woman to suffer. And not only does the woman suffer, but so do her children, who are denied the love needed to grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults.

Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclical On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering that suffering draws man closer to God, because while he suffers, he never suffers alone, since the sufferings of Christ are joined to his own. No doubt, some pregnancies present serious problems for women.

Often they do suffer, for they see no hope in childbearing; rather an endless cycle of personal, financial and emotional strain on their own lives. Perhaps, given the seriousness of such situations, the words of the Holy Father ought to be taken to heart. “Suffering is present in the world in order to release love, in order to give birth to works of love towards neighbor, in order to transform the whole human civilization into a ‘civilization of love.'”

If the pro-life movement hopes to build a culture of life, let it begin by giving hope to those in darkness. Child abuse is a reality, but seeing the root of such a tragedy could very well be the first step in eliminating the problem. And by educating others to see the flawed thinking behind believing that abortion somehow contributes to the eradication of child abuse, one may very well greatly affect the future of all of humanity – those born and those yet to be born.