Sunday, July 28, 2013

Abortion in Korea and St. Gianna

Why is the Church so strong in its opposition to abortion? Many in Korea would have difficulty  giving  a good answer.  Probably a better question would be: Why is there such a lack of interest to the question?  In Korea,  abortions are illegal in most cases, and yet it has one of the highest rates in the world, and is referred to as the  abortion kingdom. An article on the open forum page of the Catholic Times mentions that a wry smile comes over the face of those who say there are over 1000 abortions daily in the obstetrics and gynecology departments across the country.

The law, on the books since 1953, is still in force, the columnist says, but the atmosphere  is such that it is easily ignored. This became public recently when four doctors, arraigned  for performing 405 abortions, were given suspended sentences by the High Court of Daejeon, with no penalties. The Catholic bishops issued a statement on the decision expressing their disappointment and pointing out that the decision went against against the court's own constitutional laws.

The judge presiding over the case mentioned that a midwife had performed an abortion and was not prosecuted because the judge of the constitutional court said it was not contrary to the constitution,  and the judge used this precedent for deciding in favor of the four doctors. Here we have a case where the law is ignored and accepted by society. The Church sees this as a step to make abortion more frequent than it has been, and a green light for similar decisions, despite the law.

The columnist mentioned the case of Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962). She was canonized in 2004 by Pope John Paul II. He said at the canonization that she was an ordinary woman but with a meaningful message from a loving  God.

When she was pregnant with her fourth child, the doctors discovered a  growth in the womb and told her it was necessary to operate, otherwise her life would be in danger. She choose to ignore the warning and told the doctors to do everything to save the child. She waited 7 months and gave birth to a girl she called Gianna. For a week after the birth the mother was in serious pain, and died at the age of 39. She is the first woman in modern memory to be canonized as a mother.

She left four children without a mother, which for many would be reason enough to question the wisdom of what she did. But in her mind the child in the womb needed to be loved and respected and not someone you could randomly treat as you wished.

The position of the Church on abortion, not only in Korea but in most of the world, is not seen as reasonable when compared with the right of the mother to do what she feels is necessary. However, all our acts, whether religious or not, have eternal repercussions. There are consequences to everything we do, some intended, most not intended. This is true not  only of religious believers, but for all. Our actions have consequences.

The Church, with its long common memory, senses this in its history, "We reap what we sow." We are either building a culture of life or one of death. The columnist, in conclusion,  quotes  the saint Gianna:  " Beautiful words are not sufficient. We have to show the loftiness and beauty of our faith by witnessing to what we believe."

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