Abortion and Empathy

As we enter into the month of October, Respect Life month, I thought it might be good to share a few thoughts in regard to the issue of abortion.

Before I do that, I want to give you my pro-life “credentials” just in case somebody might become suspicious of where I stand on the issue.

I have been part of the pro-life movement since I was 18 years old. It was the summer before seminary, and I met a girl (thanks God, not confusing at all). As I got to know her, she shared a deep darkness that had been plaguing her. She revealed that she had had an abortion. I didn’t really know what to do, so I bought a book at Cosgrave’s on the topic of healing from an abortion. It recommended a prayer exercise that included a healing of memories. My friend experienced God’s forgiveness and was able to forgive herself as well. She named her child and found great healing throughout the process.

When I was in college seminary, I prayed at the abortion clinic routinely and did sidewalk counseling almost every Thursday. I was the president of the Students for Human Life at the University of St. Thomas for two years. Since my ordination, I have counseled numerous women and men who have experienced the pain of abortion. I’ve also attended several March for Life rallies in Washington D.C. over the years.

As I get older (and hopefully wiser), I’ve begun to change my mind about what the most effective ways are to communicate the pro-life message on the issue of abortion. I’ve only recently become aware of some research that was done almost twenty years ago that confirmed my thoughts.

A group called the Vitae Foundation funded research to better understand the hearts and minds of women who were in a crisis pregnancy so that their pro-life message wouldn’t fall on deaf ears. The research is summarized in an article published in First Things written by Paul Swope titled “Abortion: A Failure to Communicate.”

I’ll share a few highlights this week and share a few more next week.

The report suggests that women do not see any “good” resulting from an unplanned pregnancy. Instead they must weigh what they perceive as three “evils,” namely, motherhood, adoption, and abortion.


The scores of women involved in the study (none of whom were pro-life activists and all of whom called themselves “prochoice”) agreed that abortion is killing.


Unplanned motherhood, according to the study, represents a threat so great to modern women that it is perceived as equivalent to a “death of self.” While the woman may rationally understand this is not her own literal death, her emotional, subconscious reaction to carrying the child to term is that her life will be “over.” This is because many young women of today have developed a self-identity that simply does not include being a mother.


While many of us may not agree with these perspectives, it would serve us well to try a little empathy. No one cares what we have to say until they’re convinced that we actually care. Our failures to communicate often begin with our failure to listen.

Fr. Lorig -Pastor

Check out Part Two of this Article – Choosing Our Words