The Alberta State Council of the Knights of Columbus, at their first Annual Meeting in May, organized an oratorical contest for the Catholic High Schools of Alberta and The North West Territories.  The theme chosen was Respect Life. The convener was David Kolasa of Red Deer.

The text of the winning speech on Abortion, by Tom Lambert, of Catholic Central in Lethbridge, is printed here with permission.

God said: “Thou shalt not kill.”  From ancient times, man has held life to be sacred.  Nature, too has given all living creatures the instinct to protect their young.  It is hardly surprising, then, that human law decrees that if a person murders a baby any time after birth, he or she receives 10 to 25 years in prison.  On the other hand, if a doctor murders a baby any time before birth through abortion, he receives a payment of $84.50.

Surely there is something wrong there!  A God-given Commandment is being broken, human law subverted, and our own instincts ignored under the pretext that a woman has a right to take the life of her unborn child.  That this should happen at all, in a so-called civilized society, is bad enough.  The worst part, however, is that we are talking not of isolated incidents in remote and barbaric corners of the world.  We are talking about Canada.

Common procedure

Abortion is not rare.  In fact, it is now Canada’s most common medical procedure.  That means that, today, more babies will be killed than tonsils pulled.  Fully one quarter of the children conceived in Canada never get to see their mother’s face.

It is clear what the Church thinks about abortion.  In the Book of Wisdom (1:13), it says, God did not make death, nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living.”  Pope Paul VI once said “Life must, from its conception, be guarded with the greatest of care.  Abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”  The Bible condemns it, the Pope condemns it, yet literally millions of women continue to choose abortion as a desirable alternative to pregnancy.

Perhaps, we should look into why abortion is so common.  One reason is society’s quiet acceptance of it, and the convenience and ease with which it can be obtained.  The pro-abortion supporters are quite vocal, so the vast majority of the population hears that it is acceptable to kill a baby as long as it is inside the womb.  Another notion often heard is that the unborn child is not even living.  They consider it a mere tissue of the woman’s body, and, significantly, call it a foetus rather than a child.  Therefore, getting rid of it is not considered murder.

Still another cause of abortion is the belief that it is a contraceptive method and can be used as such.  This is particularly enticing to the man, since he has no obligations except perhaps payment of the medical fee.

Abortion is also being performed as a form of mercy killing.  Often, if ultrasound shows an unborn child is the victim of Down’s syndrome, or other disabilities, the decision will be to kill it.  Needless to say, the child’s right to live is overlooked in favour of the parents’ right to discriminate against imperfections of their own offspring.

These and other excuses have been thought up in order to get rid of unwanted unborn children. However, we can find important flaws in every one of them.

The first blatant lie about abortion is the “non-living” status of the unborn.  Besides being contrary to common sense, this statement goes against the laws of nature.  Biologically (and according to the Church), life begins at conception.  If an organism contains its own unique set of DNA and is able to reproduce, it is alive.  We know that the foetus, embryo, or even the fertilized egg possesses its own DNA.  We also know that it is able to reproduce by mitosis, or twinning of cells.  This alone is proof that unborn children are very much alive, and that putting one to death is simply murder.

Untouched emotionally

Secondly, the toll on the woman is often unexpected.  While it is true that some women are completely untouched emotionally by abortion, the majority experience acute guilt, despair, depression, and regret, following the operation.  Indeed, one of the highest risk groups for suicide is women who have had an abortion, and time doesn’t quickly heal wounds of this type.

The argument that abortion is a method of contraception is easily countered.  By definition it is nonsensical.  “Contraceptive” means “against conception,” but with abortion, conception has already occurred – it is not a preventative method.  Furthermore, killing cannot rightly be used as an escape from the responsibilities of having sex, so abortion must not be used as a birth-control method.  Murder is surely no substitute for the best birth-control device there is, the word “no.”

Whether or not diseased or deformed fetuses should be aborted is hotly contested.  Apparently, many people believe that an imperfect baby does not deserve to live, so the logical alternative is to kill it before birth.  However, the Bible, the Law, and human compassion all tell us that every human being has the right to life – every single person.  Regardless of a person’s looks, abilities or health, he or she has a soul and a mind, and must be granted the right to life.  Denying that right because of an imperfection is the most selfish and inhumane act imaginable.

In any of these circumstances, abortion cannot be considered a morally acceptable choice.  It is clear that the unborn are living human beings, so exterminating them for the sake of convenience is sinful.  God alone can decide who lives or dies, and man must not assume that power.

I realize that there are times when a woman becomes pregnant, but, because of circumstances, fears that she will not be able to provide for the child.  However, abortion is not the answer.  An infinitely superior choice in the case of unwanted pregnancies is adoption.

There are thousands of couples waiting to adopt babies, and there is no excuse for wantonly destroying a life that could have brought joy to a childless home.  As Christians, we believe that sexual expression between two people belongs solely in marriage.  The loving, caring, sincere relationship that exists between man and wife achieves its happiest fulfillment in the birth of a child.  The act God gave us to create life, must not end in death.

Abortion must be stopped.