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The Mirror Image of Abortion

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 30, 2009

 In Worcester, Massachusetts-- a city close to the quiet little town where I live-- a ghoulish crime has drawn national attention. A young woman with a troubled past was found dead: an apparent murder victim. She had been 8 months pregnant, and the child had been cut out of her womb-- apparently by someone who wanted the child for himself. A few days later, police arrested an acquaintance of the murder victim, who had traveled to another state with a newborn child, and charged her with kidnapping. 

Kidnapping is a terrible crime, yet the term doesn't seem adequate to describe this atrocity. It isn't terribly unusual, alas, for a kidnapping to end with a murder. In this case a murder evidently began the hideous sequence of crime. The full details of the case have not yet emerged. And when they do, I'm not sure I'll have the stomach to read about them. Thank God, at least, that the baby is alive, and appears to be physically unharmed.

Apart from the fact that it was done illegally, in a squalid apartment rather than an antiseptic clinic, it struck me that the assault on that unfortunate Worcester woman was like a mirror image of a surgical abortion. In this case it was the mother who was brutally carved up and her body cast aside, while the baby emerged intact. Usually things work the other way. Still we should recognize that the everyday reality of abortion, stripped of its pseudo-medical facade, is just as brutal as this crime which has sent shock waves across the country. 

There is one key difference that spoils the symmetry between the crimes. In an ordinary abortion, the baby dies to suit the needs, real or imagined, of the pregnant woman. In the Worcester case the baby had no designs against his mother. The crime (the violent kidnapping, that is; the murder may have been a separate matter) was done to benefit a third party: a woman who wanted a baby. Then again, how many pregnant women would prefer to keep their babies, but are cajoled, pressured, threatened, even forced into abortion by third parties: the parents who do not want the stigma of a bastard grandchild; the boyfriends who don't want the burden of child-support payments?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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