This Sunday, we celebrate the Solemn Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. The concept of three Persons in one God is the central mystery of our Faith, and has been mind-boggling for many theologians and Christian adherents for centuries. God alone can make it known to us by revealing Himself as Father, Son and Spirit. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the “Consubstantial Trinity.” Some Christian groups reject this outright (although, then, they don’t have a clue, then, how the Father and the Son are really related). They look upon Jesus as a kind of a “holy man” not truly divine and human. For them, the Holy Spirit is not a Person of the Trinity, but more of some kind of “spiritual force.” As a result, heresies have arisen throughout the history of our Church because of a failure to believe in this truth of Divine Revelation. The great philosophical mind of St. Augustine, in the fifth century, had a hard time comprehending the depths of this mystery. But, true to his Faith and his Church’s teachings, he later went on to write some commentaries on the Scriptural evidence pointing out the truth of this mystery. In the second wave of attempts to convert Ireland, St. Patrick more famously used the three-leaf shamrock to try to explain to his new converts just who this God is that wants to save His people from themselves. For us, it is sufficient to place our total belief in the One, True Godhead, three in one.
This Sunday, we also mark the 45th anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of our Parochial Vicar, Father Danis Ridore. His many years of faithful service have been outlined in the website of our parish, and give us a glimpse of his life story and some of the difficulties he had to undergo to become a priest. The actual date of his ordination in Canada’s National Shrine of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Cape was June 10, 1967, but we are observing it this Sunday with his celebration of the 11:30 a.m. Mass, and a reception to follow in the parish Family Life Center. I hope that you plan to attend his reception and tell him how much you appreciate all he had done for our parish these past nine years.
When the U.S. House of Representatives debated the Protect Life Act, a bill meant to ensure that no taxpayer money would fund abortions, Nancy Pelosi, proclaimed that passage of the bill would leave American women “dying on the floor” of American hospitals (Give me a break!!). Recently, the UN Secretary-General, expressing a concern for “women’s health,” recently called on the UN to endorse unfettered access to abortion for teenagers and younger adolescents. A government Minister in Trinidad called for the legalization of abortion there because of “public health concerns.” A wide perception that the best reproductive health for women must include access to abortion really lacks the data to support this. Is this just another claim by the abortion industry to justify including abortion in health care?
The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research organization founded by Planned Parenthood, tried to bolster this position with a report on abortions in Colombia. It claimed that there were over 400,000 clandestine abortions annually in Colombia, and at least one-third of these cases had significant medical complications. While this study tries to support the view that ready access to legal abortion improves women’s health, a just-released study, by Dr. Elard Koch of Chile, refutes this report. A review of the methods for calculating clandestine abortions in Colombia reveal that the Institute relied on opinions of health care workers to estimate the number of abortions and complication rates. In other words, there was no objective data.
On the other hand, Chile provides a natural laboratory for such an analysis. It has kept detailed records of maternal mortality for over fifty years. In addition, it has implemented several distinct interventions, including increasing skilled medical attendants for births, increasing the sanitation and overall level of care at medical facilities, basic education and, most significantly, the prohibition of abortion. The overall maternal mortality rate in Chile decreased 93.7% from 1957 through 2007. After 1981, the downward trend in maternal mortality continued, but the rate of decrease slowed. This is accounted for by the increasing number of women who delivered their first child over the age of 29. As Chilean women became more educated, they delayed child-bearing. This increased the number of maternal deaths due to underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
What happened to the maternal mortality rate after 1989, when Chile outlawed abortion? The downward trend in maternal mortality continued from 41.3 to 12.7 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. That is a 69% decrease in maternal mortality after the ban on abortion took effect. So, this analysis of the Chilean experience provides persuasive evidence that the key to improving women’s reproductive health begins with improved education and access to skilled birth attendants and well-equipped and sanitary birthing centers. The Chilean study raises serious questions about the claims by government officials and other abortion advocates who say that abortion is a critical component of quality medical care for women. Initiatives that promote abortion for the “health and well-being of women” appear more to be motivated by an ideology that’s based on something other than science.