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Fr. Shenan Boquet

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Argentina: Hope to all pro-lifers

Fr. Shenan Boquet
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Every life counts.

April 21, 2018 (Human Life International) – After the recent fall of Catholic Ireland to the abortion regime, pro-abortion forces appeared confident that they could gain another victory for their ideology – this time Catholic Argentina.

Instead, after a bill was introduced to legalize abortion-on-demand up to 14 weeks of pregnancy, millions of ordinary pro-life Argentineans took to the streets in peaceful protests, demanding that their legislators stand for life. The Argentinean Bishops conference actively urged Catholics to get involved in the debate. Some 70 Argentinean bishops reportedly shared images of themselves on social media holding signs saying, “Every life counts,” and urging their flock to stand for life. A pro-life petition signed by over 400,000 people was presented to the Argentinean legislature.

Hundreds of pro-life medical doctors, the same people who would be expected to kill unborn babies, organized protests, making it clear that they would have nothing to do with abortion. “I’m a doctor, not a murderer,” read one of their signs. The country’s Academy of Medicine pointed out that life begins at conception, and that “to destroy a human embryo means impeding the birth of a human being.“ Hundreds of hospitals expressed their opposition to the bill. Ernesto Beruti, chief of obstetrics at the Austral University Hospital, summed up the resolve of medical professionals to stand for life. “How far are we willing to go to?” he asked. “Jail. Even if the law is passed, I’m not going to eliminate the life of a human being. The most important right is the right to live.“

And when Pope Francis, who is from Argentina,denounced abortion in June as being similar to the Nazi’s murderous eugenic programs, Argentineans took notice. “Last century, the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves,“ the Pope had said, speaking of the practice of aborting unborn babies diagnosed with health conditions.

Everything came to a head in the early morning hours of August 9, after what has been described as a “marathon” 16-hour debate in the Senate. Pro-life and pro-abortion protesters thronged outside the legislature. At around 3am, the Argentinian senate voted 38-31 to reject the abortion bill. Senator Silvia Elías de Pérez, one of those who stood firm for life, cut through all the rhetoric, observing that the bill would have established “new discrimination between those who are wanted and those who are not.“ “To legalize abortion is really to admit plainly and simply the failure of the State.“

Amen. In the end, the simplicity of this argument won.The unborn child is human. To kill an unborn child is an unaccountable act of murderous discrimination. The State exists to defend the right to life of all, no exceptions.

No Complacency

Unfortunately, Argentinean pro-abortion activists are not likely to give up their efforts.Pro-life Argentineans can’t afford to let their guard down for a moment. Much as it defied belief to see young Irish literally dancing in the streets after their country voted for abortion, it boggles the mind to see pro-abortion Argentinians literally riotingin the streets after the Senate’s vote for life. One of HLI’s own, Graciela Lopez Clair, says that this debate has riven the country. Pro-life activists have adopted the colour blue, pro-abortion activists the colour green. Huge protests featuring these two colours have taken place. “Even though the results were good, we live as if we were enemies,” she says sadly.

That wound will not soon heal. In a recent article on Amnesty’s website, Mariela Belski, the Executive Director at Amnesty International Argentina, proclaimed that the momentum enjoyed by the pro-abortion activists is “unstoppable.” Pro-abortion legislators are already talking about when they will introduce the next abortion bill.

Meanwhile, wealthy foreign abortion organizations will continue to fund pro-abortion efforts. Planned Parenthood has reportedly poured as much as $5 million into Argentina in recent years to legalize abortion. Father José María “Pepe“ Di Paola, one of Argentina’s renowned “slum priests,” who serves in the slums in Buenos Aires, blames the machinations of the powerful International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the recent abortion push.

It’s clear to me, however, that Argentina isn’t only facing the threat of worldly money and power. This is a fight involving principalities and powers.

In recent years, we have seen extremist pro-abortion feminists try to set fire to a cathedral in northern Argentina. In another incident that truly belies description, a horde of feminist protesters descended on the cathedral in the city of San Juan, where they violently and obscenely assaulted a group of Catholic men who had surrounded the church and were peacefully praying the rosary. In fact, vicious demonstrations by Argentinian pro-abortion feminists, aimed at Catholic churches, have become an annual tradition.

It is difficult to watch video footage of these demonstrations without concluding that there is something more than human at work. The diabolical rage in the faces of the pro-abortion protesters, the hatred with which they assault peacefully praying men, the gratuitous obscenity of their slogans and actions –all of these scarcely seem like the actions of rational human beings.These are the same activists who are behind the recent push for abortion. The devil is hard at work in Argentina – and around the world.

Argentina and Hope

On the other hand, I have long been haunted by thefootage of those faithful Argentinean men with their arms around one another, praying the rosary stalwartly, peacefully defending their cathedral in the face of violent rage. It seems to me that this sums up so much of the war between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death. The forces of darkness can sometimes seem to be the more dramatic, the more energetic, even the more powerful. Pro-life activists do not lob molotovcocktails, or set churches and government buildings on fire.

Indeed, I am often struck by the difference between pro-life and pro-abortion protests. Pro-abortion protests are often characterized by rage and the prevalence of obscenity. They are noisy, raucous affairs, and their participants rarely ever seem happy; children are few and far in between. Pro-life protests, on the other hand, are typically peaceful and even prayerful, with a huge percentage of children and families. They are not populated by professional agitators and protestors, but rather by ordinary people and stay-at-home moms and dads who are building the kingdom by raising children to love Christ and goodness.

Pro-abortion protesters in Argentina made a lot of noise. They had the support of the global media. They filled the airwaves with their slogans. But in the end, millions of ordinary pro-life Argentineans stood up enmasse and said, “no.” Argentina shows us that the pro-life battle will be won by ordinary citizens, willing to sacrifice their time and money to stand up for what they believe. It will be won by the kind of men who are rooted in prayer, and who are willing to sacrifice themselves, including their own safety, to surround and defend their beloved local cathedral. It will be won by the kind of women who do not assert their femininity through violent and obscene protests, but who are convinced rather that their womanhood achieves its highest purpose and expression in the act ofsacrificially nurturing new life. It will be won by bishops and priests and religious who do not allow themselves to be silenced by the mockery of the media, or by the moral failures of their fellow clergy, but speak the truth without fear of the consequences.

Argentina gives pro-lifers everywhere hope. Despite an extremely well-funded campaign, the efforts of ordinary Argentineans bore fruit. It is amazing to consider just how many lives will be saved by the Senate’s vote. Instead of another Ireland, we now have a country that has shown the rest of Latin America how they too can defend their traditional cultural and family values against the international abortion juggernaut.The pendulum is swinging back towards life. For that, we should all give thanks.

Published with permission from Human Life International.

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