Congratulations to The Interim on your excellent paper which is always improving.

I would like to share with The Interim some ideas presented by Father Frank Pavone during a talk to the seminarians of the Beda College in Rome in early March. The title of Father Pavone’s address was Converting Abortion Providers: Methods That Work

Father Pavone is international director of the Priests for Life organization. He started by describing the three ways of stopping abortion: taking away the license (make it illegal), removing the demand for it (make it so unthinkable that no one would want one) and third, taking away the supply of providers (convert abortionists). While we must continue to try to change the law and educate the public, the third method could certainly be emphasized more.

Abortionists don’t like doing abortions because it’s monotonous, it puts them at the bottom of the medical profession (people, including other doctors, look down on them) and because they know it’s destructive.

The number one reason most abortionists do abortions in spite of knowing that it’s destructive of human life is probably because they have no sense of their own self worth, of their dignity as persons. They usually think that pro-lifers believe they are evil. When approached by someone who reaches out to them, they are surprised that anyone even wants to talk to them.

They are in pain because of what they are doing. One abortionist who quit says that when she decided to talk to someone, it was to a protester who had shown her that she cared about her as a person. “I knew that she knew my pain.” She knew that the pro-lifer saw through her false self-assurance about what she was doing. That abortionist has now quit doing abortions. Another abortionist asked, “Why do these people think I’m evil?” referring to protesters. Father Pavone told him they don’t think he is evil but that what he does is evil. One must not confuse the sin with the sinner (just as a woman should not confuse her problem in life, whether financial, marital etc. with her pre-born child).

Two books, Won By Love by Norma McCorvey, and The Hand of God by Dr. Bernard Nathanson, sum up how many abortionists have been converted. Both suggest that if you can get an abortionist to respect himself and see that he has dignity as a human person, then he may respect the dignity of the pre-born child.

The same principles apply if the method of abortion is not surgical, but chemical. (Besides, chemical abortions will never replace all surgical abortions for many reasons, especially because of their negative side-effects for women. In this case, malpractice prosecutions should be stepped up.)

Two other strategies that are important in stopping abortion are to provide concrete help to women who feel alone and to destroy the myth of safe abortion. What abortion does to a woman’s body is similar to driving a car at 100 kms an hour and instantly going into reverse. How can something like that not have negative consequences?

Father Pavone gave me a lot of insight into the mind of an abortionist. I hope this short synopsis is useful to the readers of The Interim.

(Louis Di Rocco, a former director with Campaign Life Coalition, is now a seminarian at Beda College, Rome).