By Jane Richard
The Interim

Pro-choice clergy to speak at local meeting,” read the headline in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record – “Four religious leaders will lend their voices to the heated abortion issue, making an argument seldom heard in local religious circles. Representing the Anglican, Catholic, Mennonite, and Unitarian faiths, the speakers will be part of Planned Parenthood’s “Religious Voices for Choice” event on January 27 in Waterloo.”

This sounded unbelievable; I knew I had to see for myself. On entering the Unitarian Hall we were met by a police officer who kept a careful eye on about 40 people in attendance, ten of whom were pro-life advocates like myself.

The article stated that the panel featured three local religious leaders and a representative from the Toronto-based Catholics for Free Choice. The event was the first of its kind in the region and was geared to showing that “not all clergy within the community are anti-abortion even if the only religious voice heard in this community is the strong anti-choice voice.”

The organizers claimed that clients who identify themselves as Lutheran or Catholic believe they cannot talk to anyone within that religion; so PP wants to develop a list of “pro-choice ministers who offer support for women faced with an unplanned pregnancy.”

The moderator, who at the end told us that she was the sole abortion doctor in the K-W area, wanted us to know that this was a democratic meeting, but that anyone with views of opposition were not welcome to voice them. It was plain to see in her mind that everyone was equal – but some of us were more equal than others.

Organizers of the event blamed the strong local pro-life movement for “driving abortion doctors from the area and for maintaining an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.”

Two of the three clergy panelists were retired. One retired independent Anglican priest, John Neu, claimed that Christianity in 2000 years had succeeded in laying a guilt trip on people, and there’s nowhere in the Bible it says there shall be no abortion. He also said, “I would have had to fly this by my bishop and I’m sure he would not have agreed to my participation in it.” Now that he is retired, he stated, he can say anything he wants.

The retired Mennonite pastor, Doris Gasho, read the Mennonite perspective on life issues, which sounded entirely pro-life. She stated that her days as head of her flock would likely have been numbered had she spoken up sooner on this issue. While she considers herself pro-life, she said she thinks there are exceptions and that women should have the freedom to choose without “harassment.”

Ann Treadwell, minister of First Unitarian Church, when asked if abortion is a sin, stated, “We do not like to use the word sin too often.” She said that the Unitarian religion is a very liberal religion that supports a woman’s right to choose.

Kathleen Howes of Catholics for Free Choice said that 86 per cent of Catholics are “pro-choice.” Listening to her version of the history of the Catholic Church confirmed my suspicion that that statistic was not very accurate.

This schizoid view of life and women’s rights is the cause of so many problems. By aborting a child, a woman may feel a temporary release from her responsibility, but she does a great dishonour to herself and motherhood. To dispose of human life is counter to love and leads to suffering of the heart and emotions. By this reaction, she alienates herself from her own moral fulfillment. This is ultimately destructive to the self-image of a woman and anyone involved in the abortion process.

Abortion ends the life of the unborn child and creates a need for post-abortion healing. Opposition to abortion is motivated not only by a desire to protect the unborn, but also by a desire to safeguard the rights, dignity, and health of women. Women should not be denied their right to be protected from the risk of dangerous and unwanted abortions.

While the Bible does not specifically prohibit abortion or infanticide, genocide, suicide, and a host of other undesirable acts, we do see a pervasive attitude that appreciates and respects all human life, including the unborn.

The “pro-choice clergy” showed little resemblance to the teaching of true Christianity. They serve only dissident thinking caused by the subversive tendencies of a few individuals. The whole evening provided a means by which Planned Parenthood gained exposure and media support in a futile attempt to mislead the public.