Book Review: Abolishing Abortion

Abolishing Abortion: How You Can Play A Part In ending The Greatest Evil Of Our Day, by Frank Pavone

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]

The author is a Catholic priest, and founder of Priests For Life, an issue advocacy group that works mightily against the sin of abortion within the Catholic Church but at odds with some of its hierarchy. This book, at just over 200 pages, is fairly brief, but manages to combine a few approaches that are hard to find together, including a blunt and bracing directness, powerful criticism of the IRS as well as spineless church organizations whose desire to avoid staying out of potential trouble with the government leads them to avoid the moral duty to speak out against the evil of infanticide, a strongly worded defense of the constitutional right to life and its implications, and a surprising degree of political savvy and mercy in dealing with others. The end result is a book that is both deeply practical and also full of Lincolnian ideals about the importance of working against the greatest evil of our time, an evil that saps our regard and respect for life and opens the door for a much lower regard for other life that is considered undesirable by some. It is a good thing that the book is full of text and not pictures, as the photos the book refers to as part of its advice on political advocacy would be the material for horrible nightmares about the evil that parents and others can inflict upon their children. Suffice it to say that no one needs any more nightmares about such matters than they already have.

In terms of its contents, this particular book is divided into about 11 chapters, each of them dealing in a practical way with the way in which abortion can be stopped. The book opens by introducing the broad areas for a coalition against abortion, as well as a pointed defense of Christian involvement in the public square, despite the desire of some to separate religious values from public discourse. The author then discusses the rise of the culture of death in the decades after Roe vs. Wade and the harmful implications of that decision on human dignity as a whole. The book then makes a call for repentance for abortion as a corporate sin which we all share some guilt in by virtue of our silence or violence, before discussing the fact that we as believers are commanded to speak out about such cultural issues even despite the fact that they are controversial. The author then spends two chapters discussing freedom of speech and freedom of the pulpit, before providing some embarrassing proof of passivity in the Catholic hierarchy, something that can be said about many contemporary churches [1]. The author uses this critique to point out the inconsistency many churches have in their missions to proclaim biblical truth to both believers and to the wider outside world, an unwillingness among many church hierarchies to rock the cultural boat and risk adverse responses from corrupt governments in post-Christian societies in the West, and the hostility of those same hierarchies to allow outspoken lay members to step into the gap when the hierarchy has shown itself somewhat overly timid in fulfilling its own ordained responsibilities. Needless to say, this particular critique hits home for many churches and about other serious issues besides that of abortion. The book then closes with a discussion of the collision course between the lies of abortion advocates and the truths about how abortion harms both women and children, which allows the author to close on a note of defending the interests of both women and children in a culture of life that rests on a foundation of love, with an appendix that compares the quest to defend the dignity of the unborn child with the dignity sought for blacks by those like Martin Luther King Jr., whose niece was also involved in the creation of this book.

Although not everyone would be a protester in the same sense as others, this book is a clear call for American Christians to live in a matter consistent with their beliefs as servants of the Living God. As someone who writes about the issue from time to time [2], I generally seek to point out both to the hostility of the Bible to the death of children, whether still in the womb or recently out of the womb, and the way that abortion attacks the dignity of both women and children, to say nothing of men, a part of whose responsibility is the defense of those more vulnerable. This book, perhaps oddly, does not focus at all on the responsibility of men to help provide for their children, and to give support and encouragement to women so that no one feels abandoned and alone while facing the choice of whether to accept embarrassment or murder innocent life out of convenience. Nor does this book examine the larger decline of family and marriage of which abortion issues only form a part. Perhaps, as the author is a priest, marriage is left often on his mind than would be the case for evangelical opponents of this dark sin. That said, the book is largely supportive of the larger culture of life, quotes approvingly from the documents of Vatican Two and various papal bulls. Although the book has a “big tent” audience in mind, its discussions are particularly relevant to Catholicism and a study of the relationship between the Catholic hierarchy and powerful forces of darkness within political societies. The response of the Catholic hierarchy to be timid about speaking out against social evil and keeping one head down remind one of the timidity that the Catholic hierarchy showed during Hitler’s rise to power—the same forces are at work, the forces of fear, the desire not to offend a powerful civil government, no matter how wicked its policies, and the same craven refusal to stand up en masse against evil. Our God tells us to be strong and of good courage; let us obey His commands and seek to show ourselves proper examples of His ways.

[1] Witness, for example, this particularly pointed comment:

“Unfortunately, pervasive and longstanding clericism, by reducing the laity to passivity and treating as normative forms of spirituality proper to priests and religious, has given Catholicism a misleading experience of the Church. All too often the faithful feel themselves to be, not brothers and sisters joined in intimate communion and full cooperators in carrying out the Church’s mission, but citizens in a rather weak monarchical or aristocratic political society, whose government lacks necessary checks and balances, and whose inefficient clerical and lay bureaucracy often is impervious to advice and criticism (146).”

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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