Sense of Life. Articles in English. The Civilization of Life versus the Culture of Death.
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The Civilization of Life versus the Culture of Death

In our time of relative peace we are waging a life-and-death struggle: the life and death of persons who have no voice of their own — the most defenseless among us.

The pro-abortion strategy

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, MD, was a leading advocate of pro-abortion legislation in the United States. In 1969, he co-founded NARAL (The National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws). Though his organization consisted then of a mere handful of people, in just five years it succeeded in standing America on her head by introducing a law allowing for the killing of any child from conception to the moment of birth; in effect, throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy. Fortunately, Dr. Nathanson underwent a conversion. In 1982, in Ireland, he delivered his landmark address entitled, “A Deadly Deception: Planned Extermination” in which he exposed the general strategy of pro-abortion groups. Considering this man’s experience and proven success in promoting pro-abortion legislation, his views on the subject bear listening to:

“In 1968 we knew that an honest sounding of American opinion on the subject of abortion would mean a crushing defeat for us. Therefore we decided to take another tack. We used the mass media to circulate the results of a survey of our own, which claimed that fifty to sixty percent of Americans were in favor of legalizing abortion. This proved to be an extraordinarily effective tactic involving “the self-fulfilling prophecy.” If for a sufficiently long period of time we persuaded American public opinion that everyone was in favor of legalizing abortion, most people would be convinced of the rightness of this view, since few people like to be in the minority. We also resorted to the tactic of ambiguously worded questionnaires. For this reason I would urge everyone to exercise considerable skepticism upon hearing or reading the results of public opinion surveys.”

Perhaps we in Poland should also be wondering why, before every new debate on the subject of abortion, the mass media suddenly start publishing numerous poll results, which allege that the majority of Poles want legalized abortion. But what Dr. Nathanson has to say about illegal abortion statistics is even more interesting:

“We also knew that if we sufficiently dramatized the situation, we would arouse enough sympathy to “sell” our program of legalizing artificial abortions. To this end, we falsified the statistics concerning illegal abortions performed annually in the USA. We put it out to the mass media and opinion makers that about a million such abortions were performed annually in the United States, though we knew the number was more like 100,000. In fact, some 200-250 women died every year as a result of illegal procedures, but we always put it out that the mortality rate was considerably higher — 10,000 annually. These figures began to shape America’s social conscience and were most effective in persuading the public that it needed to change its abortion laws.”

“The Catholic charter”

In his struggle to win the sympathy of the public and bring about the legalization of abortion (advantageous, needless to say, only to the small group of doctors who wanted to make money from killing the unborn), Dr. Bernard Nathanson and his associates went still further. Knowing that America was a religiously diverse society, they propagated the myth that the Catholic Church lay at the root of the conflict and that the whole abortion problem stemmed from the religious views of the Church hierarchy. The Catholic Church, they argued, represented a threat not only to civil freedom but also human rights.

“The most important and effective tactic we resorted to during our activity in the years 1968-1973 was the so-called ‘Catholic charter.’…We took advantage of the general ignorance regarding the Church hierarchy to persuade liberal intellectuals, anti-war activists, and organs of the mass media that it was the Church that was primarily opposed to the legalization of abortion….From our statements you could draw but one conclusion: the Catholic Church was set on imposing her views on abortion on the country. The future of human rights in the USA hinged on the resolution of the abortion problem. If the Bill of Rights was to remain in the Constitution of the United States, we could not allow Cardinal Cook to rule our nation’s bedrooms. We could not allow the dogmatic Catholic Church to override the competence of our legislators and continue to force every woman to bring her child to full term. The position of the hierarchy was rigid, and opposition to a law permitting abortion originated from it — and not the majority of Catholics.

“In this way we severed Catholic ‘intellectuals’ and ‘progressive,’ liberal elements from the hierarchy and drove a wedge into Catholic opposition to artificial abortion. Resorting to bogus surveys we claimed that the ‘majority of Catholics were in favor of reforming the law’ and that ‘of the women seeking and choosing to terminate their pregnancy, the number of Catholic women was proportional to the size of the Catholic population in the United States.’

“We even claimed, quite outrageously, that Cardinal Cushing was in favor of relaxing the anti-abortion laws; and so, invoking his authority, we convinced many undecided Catholics that our position was the right and enlightened one.

“What was the point of our smear campaign? Above all, we convinced the media that anyone who opposed the liberalization of the abortion laws had to be a Catholic or be strongly influenced by the Church hierarchy. We spread the notion that the Catholics, who favored the legalization of abortion, were thoughtful, enlightened, and progressive people.

“Our aim was to convince the public through the media that there were no non-Catholic groups opposed to abortion. In point of fact, there were then (as there are still) many faith groups speaking out against abortion: the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Churches of Christ, the American Baptist Association, Lutherans, Methodists, Mormons, orthodox Jews, and Pentecostals. Other religious groups held less decided positions, but even these were not in favor of totally unrestricted abortion. Here we may include the American Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the American Baptist Churches in the USA. Indeed, there were a great number of non-Catholic groups that strongly opposed abortion. But we never allowed such a list to be published and we played down the notion that there was any opposition other than the Catholic one.”

Hiding the truth about the life of the unborn

“In addition to the ‘Catholic charter,’ NARAL resorted to two key methods in its pro-abortion propaganda campaign: hiding all scientific evidence that life begins at conception; and winning control over the mass media.

“The first of these methods consisted in denying the scientifically proven fact that human life begins at the moment of conception. We insisted that the question of when human life begins was a theological, legal, ethical, and philosophical problem — but certainly not a scientific one. This is still one of the favorite tactics of pro-abortion groups, who claim that scientists are unable to determine when human existence begins. This view is laughable and absurd….As a scientist, I know — I do not suppose, I know! — that human life begins at conception.”

Dr. Nathanson does not elaborate further on the problem of the media. But we must realize that by spreading the elaborate lies of abortionists, by not challenging their falsehoods or exposing their manipulations, most medias of the world consciously or unconsciously cooperate in the culture of death. But most lamentable is the fact that even after Dr. Nathanson’s exposé of this whole strategy built on lies and half-truths, it still remains the most potent tool — leading, in effect, to the extermination of millions of innocent human beings. 

Let us speak out in defense of life!

Rebuilding what has been destroyed in not easy. In just five years an elaborate web of lies proved so effective in shaking the convictions of the majority of Americans that Nathanson’s entire subsequent activity in defense of life has been unable to restore a law protecting the unborn. Let us not make this same mistake. Let us hold to the truth revealed to us by God, which the Church guards and honest scientists share: namely, that human life is sacred from the moment of conception to that of natural death. Let us allow men like Dr. John Wilke, MD, defender of life and president of the International Right to Life Federation, to speak. For a decade he has been traveling through the world presenting his four-point plan for the prevention of killing unborn children. The plan is very simple:

1. prayer,

2. self-education,

3. educating others,

4. providing help.

As a believer Dr. Wilke rightly recognizes the primary and fundamental role of prayer in the defense of human life.  Prayer should precede every undertaking in the service of life and should constantly support it. Jesus Christ himself urged us to pray: “Be vigilant at all times and pray…” (Lk 21:36). St. Paul writes, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:17). And St. James assures as that the “fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful” (Js 5:16). That greatest defender of life, John Paul II, also urged us to pray: “We must never stop praying!….Let this simple and basic summons to prayer go forth from this place and move all those who hear it — here and elsewhere. It is the most important call of all. It is my most essential message!”

The year 1980 saw the launching of the Prayer Crusade for the Defense of Unborn Children in Poland. That initiative contributed to the abolition on January 7, 1993 of the criminal abortion law by the Parliament of the Republic of Poland. Parliament introduced legislation protecting the life of the unborn (alas, with three mitigations!). Poland was the first country in the world to restore, under democratic conditions, the rights of the unborn. Let us not allow advocates of abortion in their concern for their petty rights to foist their lies upon us in the manner they are accustomed to: namely, by publishing false surveys and smearing the Church. We must also feel jointly responsible for other countries where the innocent are being routinely murdered under the full majesty of the law.

October 13, 2007 marked the launching of World Prayer Crusade for the Protection of Human Life (see: at the II World Prayer Congress for Life held in the Basilica of Divine Mercy in Cracow-Lagiewniki. For its motto the movement takes the words of John Paul II: “a great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer wich will rise up throughout the world” (Evangelium vitae, 100). Let us join in this crusade and pray for:

• God’s mercy upon the world for its rejection of the gift of life,

• increased respect for the life of every human being from conception to natural death,

• the unconditional right to life — entrenched in the laws of every country in the world — of every human being from conception to the moment of natural death.

Dr. Wilke stresses that our involvement in the task of defending life must be prudent and based on arguments, which contribute to the growth of knowledge in the fields of medicine, history, jurisprudence, and demographics. Honest information can be obtained through regular reading of the Catholic press as well as works and books published by defenders of life. Wilke warns against publications, which, though authored by those bearing professorial titles, are at variance with the truth. “Self-education” includes attending meetings and lectures conducted by trustworthy people. It also includes viewing documentary films on the development of the human being as well as films dealing with the destruction of unborn life and the tragedy of mothers who chose to kill their unborn child. It also means obtaining information on the effects of abortion on the physical and psychological health of women.

This consciously undertaken task of obtaining true information and constantly updating our knowledge is especially important in a situation where the mass media frequently spread lies and disinformation rather than the truth.

The task of “educating others” is to be directed mainly toward people of the media and those involved (broadly speaking) in the field of education. But religious groups and even ordinary citizens must also be educated. We teach others when we share with them our knowledge about the inception of human life, when we communicate true information about the cruelty that lies hidden under the word, “abortion.”

Dr. Wilke strongly emphasizes that the task of defending human life must also include the provision of concrete, material help to isolated mothers and large families. Every physician — not just gynecologists and obstetricians — should know what institutions, social agencies, and crisis centers are available in their jurisdiction, to which they can refer their patients. No believer can remain indifferent to another person’s problems, for it is written, “Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth” (1 Jn 3:18).

Dr. Antoni Zieba,

President, Polish Association

of the Defenders of Human Life

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The article was published with the permission from "Love One Another!" in May 2016.

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