Way back in my early 20s, I was very ignorant about by faith. My morality was based on a very partisan hyper-patriotism instead of right and wrong (I even supported the concept of the ends justify the means—a concept I condemn today). It was the 1980s, and things like supporting a strong national defense, while opposing communism seemed important. Things like abortion seemed to be a small issue. Yeah, I had a vague sense it was wrong and I was never pro-abortion, but if you pressed me on it, I probably would have rather compromised on that than on the Strategic Defense Initiative. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I tell this to show what I changed from.
I recall my moment of conversion well. It was 1989. My habit in my undergraduate years was to spend a lot of time reading newspapers and magazines to see what the political trends were (while I have a Masters in theology, my BA was actually in International Relations). In reading one article in Time magazine, I came across a discussion on late term abortion and how some abortionists would kill the baby aborted alive through what the article euphemistically called “aggressive neglect."
That sickened me. As muddled as I was in my thinking on abortion, I could realize that once the baby was outside of the mother, that was murder. I believe that God used that moment to reach me, because I realized: If the baby was alive outside of the mother, it would have to be alive inside the mother before birth, (I was still thinking of the unborn baby as an it instead of a he/she) and abortion must be condemned as long as the fetus is alive.
That’s when I believe God asked me a question—How far back was the baby alive before being born?
I realized I did not know, and because I did not know, I could not in good conscience tolerate abortion at any time. It was better to err on the side of caution and never support abortion than to risk murdering a human being.
The moment of conversion on abortion was a sort of mental Road to Damascus moment for me, showing me that what I thought was right and what was right were often two different things. It was the beginning in thinking of things as God was calling us to consider. It was a long road. In the 26 years since that day, I grew in understanding of the issues of life, recognizing that the Church teaching needed to be followed because what she taught was true. Life begins at the moment of conception, and the right to life was the fundamental right. In embracing the Church teaching on abortion, I was gradually able to learn about and reject my flawed concepts of morality and see the Church as mother and teacher. In short I learned to trust the Church over myself when I felt a conflict.
I reflect on this on the 42nd Annual March for Life. God was merciful to me to provide me with a moment of conversion. I pray that He may provide the same to others who are as muddled in their thinking as I was.