I wonder whether you have the quote by Henry Hyde about idle silence and abortion. I wanted to use it in our church.  M.B., Winnipeg, MB

U.S. Congressman Henry Hyde, often speaks of the duty of Christians to fight the evil of abortion. His quotation is from St. Ambrose and is as follows: “Not only for every idle word but for every idle silence must man render an account.”

Hyde speaks  to those who believe in God and judgment and says: “The sins of omission will be what weigh you down; not the things you’ve done wrong, the chances you’ve taken, but the things you failed to do, the times you stepped back, the times you didn’t speak out.”

In another speech (this one at the Notre Dame Law Centre, and in a reply to an ‘I am personally against abortion,  but….speech of New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, he quoted from one of the greatest French writers of this century, Charles Peguy: “if you possess the truth and remain silent you become the accomplices of liars and forgers.”

I was told by a nurse that very young babies who had miscarried had tails. Is this a proof of evolution? L.G., London, Ontario.

According to Sir William Liley – the father of Fetology – what appears to be a small tail in a young fetus is, in fact, part of the spinal cord. At this early stage, the spinal cord is longer than the trunk of the baby, but as the child develops the trunk grows at a faster rate than the cord, and eventually the “tail” finishes part way up the back.

What percentage of doctors in North America do abortions? M.S., Vancouver, BC

I’m not sure. However, Dr. John Wilke gave the statistics for the United States in his book Abortion (1988). Out of a total of 300,000 doctors, some 8,700, or 2.9 percent were abortionists. The average number of babies killed per abortionist is 172 per year, but as some of the medical profession do nothing but abortions their totals of killings will be much higher.

How do I answer a friend who claims to be pro-life, but who says she has no right to say that other women cannot be pro-choice. N.M., Cornwall, Ontario.

A woman who is pregnant already has a baby.  The only “choice” she has at that point is whether to let her baby live or whether to kill him or her. It is the same child at seven months before birth, and seven months after birth – the only differences are in its size and location. To kill an unborn baby is called abortion; to kill a baby learning to crawl is called murder; both abortion and murder take the life of a child. No mother, no doctor, no judge has the right to condemn a baby to death or to carry out its execution, and in a truly civilized society no person would stand idly by while children were exterminated.

Is it true that placentas are used to extract hormones and for cosmetics? If it is true, is it ethical? B.D., Chatham, Ontario.

The placenta belongs to the baby, but once the child is born the placenta is of no further use. If there are medical or even cosmetic uses (though I would feel squeamish about cosmetics), it cannot be unethical to use the placentas. It is not using fetal tissue from the baby.

However, if the placenta is from an abortion, e.g. hysterectomy,  I would reserve my answer for further thought.