Moral health of culture rests on ‘fragile equilibrium’

By Dr. Donald DeMarco
Catholic Life

The October 23, 2016 football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles began with an embarrassing series of fumbles and interceptions. The five turnovers in just the first ten minutes of the contest led one sports commentator to describe the proceedings as “ugly.” Then, without having to search for an appropriate comparison, said, “As ugly as the presidential election.”

It is a sad reflection on the current world of politics that the campaign for president of the United States could be regarded as a standard by which ugliness is measured.

“Ugly” is an apt term, but it fails to capture the true enormity that characterized the race to the White House. Ignorance, deception, name-calling, arrogance, and mendacity were only too evident, especially in what were euphemistically called the “debates.”

There was urgency, indeed, but too little clear-headedness to provide a remedy; there was a crisis, but there was not much vision.

We watched the presidential debates and were hard pressed to find an actual debate amidst the whirlwind of accusations and false statements. The abortion issue was presented with too little grasp of its profound moral and social significance.

The fact that there was such a critical lack of understanding of the scope, the magnitude, and the consequences of the abortion issue among most of the presidential candidates was most disturbing.

Pope St. John Paul II, in his encyclical, “The Gospel of Life” (1995), used the phrase “ubiquitous tentacles” to describe the broad and devastating effect that abortion has on all corners of society, a phenomenon that contributes powerfully to the formation of a Culture of Death (n. 21).

Even if we set aside the evil of abortion, which is the killing of an innocent human being, the preludes and postludes surrounding abortion should be enough to convince any person of right reason that the abortion issue is as broad as the entire range of culture.

Abortion has become commonplace, claiming the lives of roughly one million unborn Americans per year. And its acceptance is pervasive. Many see abortion, as did the Supreme Court, as a private issue, merely the rightful decision of the mother. And since it is a “right,” it should no longer be contentious. Therefore, pro-life people are stigmatized as being “anti-choice,” against human rights, and even misogynistic.

It is ironic, however, that while knowledge of ecology becomes more and more widespread, an awareness of the ecology of abortion remains virtually nonexistent.

Yet abortion does, indeed, have far-reaching effects.

Because abortion has become, to a large extent, accepted, so too, has easy sex. As one university student put it, “I hope abortion remains legal since I hate to use the condom.”

Casual sex inevitably leads to casualty sex, with its train of heartbreak, disappointment, and disease. Political correctness has made it most unfashionable to discuss abortion. The media have become a champion of abortion and often ridicule anyone who brings any sensible objection to it.

Finding suitable marriage partners becomes more difficult in a world where promiscuity is permitted while moral debate is forbidden. The acceptance of abortion has antecedent effects on the act which has adverse effects on individuals, relationships, marriage, and society. It greatly weakens the foundations of culture.

On an academic level, the privatization of abortion along with the deconstruction of any argument against it has contributed to the relativization of all morality. If a person can be “pro-choice” on abortion, why should he not be “pro-choice” on any other moral issue? The deconstruction of morality, to rationalize abortion, can hardly prepare graduates to become responsible citizens or dutiful parents.

The aftermath of abortion – its postlude – has contributed to the erosion of marriage. The decision to abort belongs solely to that of the mother. The father is systematically excluded. In addition, there is the negative impact that abortion has on siblings and grandparents. Many women come to regret their abortion. Statistics show an alarming increase of alcohol abuse, depression, and suicide among aborting women.

As a result, many groups have been formed to protest how these women were deceived. Rachel’s Vineyard ( is one of the best-known. Silent No More ( is another one. These groups offer help to women who seek forgiveness and healing after their abortions. But in politically correct circles, these organizations simply do not exist.

While abortion has an adverse effect on the unborn child, the mother, the father, the family, and the whole of society, it also adversely affects medicine, law, the media, and education, as well as the family and all its components. In referring to abortion, author John Updike wrote: “Death, once invited in, leaves its muddy boot-prints everywhere.” Abortion is as private as the wind.

The moral health of any culture rests on a “fragile equilibrium,” to cite St. John Paul II once again. The eclipse of God, the attack on innocent life, and the renunciation of love provide an unsettling and perilous tandem. No culture can maintain its equilibrium, or balance, when it depreciates life and love.

We are at the mercy of our iniquities. Our leaders must become more and more aware of the extent of damage that abortion brings to society. Despite the urgency of the present situation, we need prayer and heroic patience.

Dr. Donald DeMarco is a senior fellow of Human Life International. He is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College in Cromwell, Conn. This column is reprinted from the Dec. 1 edition of The Wanderer.

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