'Every Abortion is a Tragedy': Barack Obama

'Every Abortion is a Tragedy': Barack Obama (Position Papers, 474, Dec. 2013, pp. 25-28)

The recent interview of Pope Francis, published in September 30, 2013 in America magazine [1] moved many people deeply, especially with his insistence that we live in a wounded world which has the right to expect healing of those wounds from the Church. His repeated insistence clearly came from his heart; "the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds.... Heal the wounds, heal the wounds."
He is not referring to bodily wounds so much as wounds of the spirit. Knowing well that this will provoke "scandal" among some, I would firmly assert that by far the greatest number of wounded people in today's world are the millions, the tens of millions, of women who, over the past decades, have had an abortion; and, admit it not, are still suffering from the wounds of this tragedy.
Tragedy? Yes, that is the very term used by Barack Obama, speaking of abortion in an NBC interview during the run-up to his presidential election: "here's my position on abortion. I believe that abortion is at some level always tragic... there's always a tragedy and a pain involved, and a moral component to the issue that has to be acknowledged" [2]
Consent to deliberate killing
Abortion is always a tragedy in itself. Yet these tragedies keep increasing and make for more and more people still suffering from their wounds. The subject of the continued tragedy is not the aborted child (one who is dead can no longer be said to be involved in a tragedy - least of all in God's sight). The tragedy is for those living. So, it is the woman who aborts that Obama sees as wounded by the tragedy and continuing to suffer from it. On this, I fully agree with him.
A woman with an unwanted pregnancy, especially if she is single, is under many pressures today to abort. Only God can know to what extent these pressures may have diminished her freedom or clarity of choice in that situation. Nevertheless, every woman who aborts knows that she has procured or consented to the killing of something living: something living that, wanted or unwanted, she had given life to, a life she then destroyed. She may try to brush over the fact, dismiss it from her mind, but she won't succeed. And she lives with a deep wound in her conscience. A permissive society may find no difficulty in forgiving her [3]. The worst of it is that she will not be able to forgive herself, or to forget. And my experience is that in the exceptional cases where a woman does succeed in silencing her conscience, it is at the cost of moral suicide: she destroys her very conscience and her sense of values.
Women exploited by abortion
I can never forget a TV program I saw years ago when the "liberalization" of the law on abortion was first being debated in England. A university professor had assembled in the studio a dozen or more of women who had had one or several abortions. His questions to each one had the clear purpose of "proving" that neither physically nor psychologically had they suffered any adverse effects from the abortions. What the women said, in their replies, corroborated his thesis fully. However, I still retain a vivid memory of the forced assurance in their way of answering, their evident concern to justify themselves, their insistence that they had never been troubled by the least feeling of repugnance or remorse... Above all I remember their hardened faces, which seemed to reflect an air of proud and sad loneliness. It was the impression of deeply wounded people suffering from a radical defeminization and dehumanization.
Try googling the phrase, "women exploited by abortion", and you will come up with more than a million hits. Account after account of girls or women who, probably in a moment of weakness, and certainly swayed by a law which says that they have the "right" to do what is wrong, yielded to a temptation that (so they were led to believe) had no consequences. But there were consequences, and they were to be haunted afterwards by them.
The most harmful traumas come from inside, from hidden wounds that one chooses to ignore or tries to suppress. The interior trauma remains and gets worse unless one brings it to the surface, sees it as self-inflicted, and allows the wound to be cured.
A deep wound in need of a cure
We are all sinners - it is a basic truth that we need to face up to. Simply said so, it seems a sad truth; perhaps that is why so many do not wish to admit or face up to it. Yet, we are all forgiven sinners - if we seek forgiveness. That is the glad truth; that is the message of the Gospel. Evangelization hangs on helping people admit the sad truth and discover the glad one.
Yes, there are millions of women today who are living in deep denial, denying their wounded condition, trying to persuade themselves or let themselves be persuaded by others that they carry no wound inside. But they do; and will have no real interior peace until they recognize the wound and seek its cure. A cure that God always offers, but only to those who face up to the wound and desire its cure. Otherwise it continues to fester.
After almost sixty years of confessional work, I can say that the most difficult cases I have encountered have been the many girls or women who come to confess the sin of abortion. They are sorry for their sin; otherwise why would they come to confession? So there is no difficulty on the priest's part to be the instrument for imparting God's forgiveness and, where it applies, to lift the excommunication incurred.
The difficulty does not lie there. It lies in trying to help the girl or the woman out of the depression in which she is plunged. One has to repeat time and again that, yes, her sin was great; but that God's love and mercy are infinitely greater. That her confession marks a new life as a beloved daughter of God. That she, like any repentant sinner, can still be a great saint. That her very experience may in fact uniquely qualify her to be a messenger of sincerity, recovery, health and salvation to many others who are still as deeply wounded as she had been, and have not yet found the courage or the encouragement to look squarely into their wounded heart. She can tell them that it useless to try to be happy, or to pretend to be at peace, with a wound like that inside. Pro-choice friends, psychological counselors, the letter of the law, may tell her there is nothing to regret, nothing to be sorry for, no wound inside. The tendency to self-justification that we all carry within may urge her to be persuaded by these voices. But if she is not afraid to look deep inside and listen to the voice of her own conscience, all that will sound hollow to her. The wound is still there, and she has to suffer from it - until she is cured.
There are no unforgivable sins - except those we are not sorry for. As soon as a person turns to God's infinite love and goodness, and says, "I have sinned", the process of healing begins. And peace, God's peace, returns.

[1] http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview.
[2] http://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/flatview?cuecard=6393.
[3] In his recent Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis, speaking of abortion, insists: "Nowadays efforts are made to deny them [unborn children] their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church's effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development."