Friday, August 16, 2013

Facts Should Speak for Themselves

Determining what is a fact is difficult. The truth, some say, is made up of facts,  but, as we know so well, what is considered a fact by some is not necessarily seen as such by others. Those who affirm or deny something being a fact usually want their understanding to be seen as the truth. The very different positions of the pro-life and pro-choice people is a good example of what is meant.

For a Christian, the number of those affirming or denying any fact means very little, and even knowing the facts does not necessarily mean we will be led to the truth. This has been abundantly illustrated by the issue of abortion which, after being largely ignored in the past, is now becoming a heated issue in Korea. The low birth rate makes the issue a vital one for the nation.

Both Catholic papers had articles on the recent international meeting of women doctors in Korea, and how these doctors brought their agenda to the whole world because of their refusal to let a pro-life group speak to them. The Medical Women's International Association (MWIA)  invited a group of experts to speak to the women doctors. Three women doctors who belong to the American Pro-life  Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists were to give a lecture on pregnancy and abortion, which touched on death, premature babies, disabilities and the mental health of the mother. The invitation was made by the Korean hosts, members of the MWIA, who had no difficulty with hearing the medical facts associated with abortion on the health of mothers. The pro-choice faction arbitrarily canceled the lecture. The president of the MWIA “regrets that the MWIA invited presenters would deny women their basic right to choice.” These were the words that led to the cancellation of the talks that had been planned months in advance.
Even though they were denied the chance to talk to the group of women doctors, the head of the pro-life group in Korea  arranged for them to give a panel talk on television during the time they would have given their presentation before the women doctors. The secretary-general of the women doctors, hearing about the TV interview, entered the room where the panel was speaking and broke up the meeting, putting her hand over the video camera recording the presentation. This embarrassing incident made the international news.

The health effects of abortion on the health of the mother, for a pro-life person, has nothing to do with the morality of abortion. However, in the present debate between the two contending parties, the issue of health to the mother is often used by pro-life advocates to persuade those who need help in taking a position. However, the scheduled lecture, which had been canceled, seemed to ignore the fact that the pro-life doctors were specialists in their field and that their intention was solely to present an academic and scientific assessment of the possible health risks of abortions. Another expert attending the doctors' meeting, a professor at the Catholic Sacred Heart Medical School in Rome, said that it was a case where the pro-choice doctors feared meeting the pro-life doctors. Soon after this incident, the Korean doctor who was the chair person for the public relations committee resigned, saying she could no longer work with them.

The truth that many hold dearly is one thing, but when we are dealing with scientific, empirical and sociological facts, it would be refreshing to rid ourselves of the baggage that prevents us from acknowledging what is plainly before us. Instead of allowing the facts to speak for themselves we, unfortunately, often fear to face the facts.

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