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January 27, 2022

Neither abortion nor sexual education

As usual, for several years now, anti-abortion rallies are held throughout the country on the Christian feast of Annunciation. This time around, the biggest one took place in Cluj, where the Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop and the Greek-Catholic Bishop were not absent. Most of the Christian denominations’ support for the banning of abortion is known. Starting with Catholics who, for instance, adopted in today’s Poland strict laws and the trend continues to be to ban the cases waivered until now too. In the U.S. there were even cases of anti-abortion terrorism, with gynaecologists attacked and offices devastated. In Romania, one of the first political measures taken after Ceausescu’s ouster was to legalise abortion. The country had been at any rate an exception even in the socialist bloc, because of its leader’s demographic ambitions, which drastically penalised the physicians and women who were trying to perform abortions, even in the most improper conditions. The result was many victims among mothers, many children with malformations and many ending up in orphanages – degrading prisons for the little ones, barely kept standing by a bankrupt regime. With legalisation, there followed a boom in abortions, over a short period of time. However, Romania continued to lead when it came to the number of teenage mothers and infant mortality. Likewise, there is a strong current in favour of banning sexual education in schools, under the pretext of the cultivation of immorality, gender confusion and tendencies “against nature” – meaning homosexuality.

To be honest, those who promote the right to abortion are not, to a great extent, the fans of abortion. But mostly of contraception, without however excluding the possibility of resorting to abortion if need be. In other words, they do not demonise abortion, but nor do they recommend it. Those who oppose it invoke a form of crime against a defenceless being. The main problem is the stake on interdiction instead of one on a campaign in favour of contraception. Because contraception is a sin for many Christian denominations. And since abstinence is an unrealistic path, the legal interdiction results as the only solution, under the threat of punishment. Just as real is that, behind invoking the right of the child (conceived but still unborn) there lies a residual patriarchalism that is trying to recover the old discretionary authority of the man who decided based on his own will and often forced the woman to be especially a wife and a mother. Likewise, it is also a strategy to try to limit the number of abortions and, more in general, of the break-up of couples. An illusory strategy because today children are not an obstacle to breaking up, since women have social alternatives – salaries, kindergartens, alimonies – on their own too. Also invoked, especially by the representatives of the Orthodox Church, is the patriotic argument, as a follow-up to Ceausescu’s rhetoric. The Metropolitan Bishop of Cluj, for instance, is asking for a minimum of three children – a similar request is made by the Islamic Erdogan in Turkey – per family. His arguments are hilarious: “one for the father, one for the mother, another one for the Church and country.” In other words, in case of divorce, one would stay with the mother, another with the father, and another can die for the country or the state would raise him/her in an orphanage. It seems more like foolishness rather than a sample of cynicism.

If it did not have occult interests and fixed ideas, the majority Church would staunchly support sexual education in schools. In order to avoid premature pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and, especially, irresponsibility in relationships. Not sexuality per se is condemnable – a fad of old theology – but the emotional exploitation of the partner and the lack of responsibility toward the potentially resulting children. Family is a challenge for anyone, and really moral attitudes are far too rare. They would deserve to be encouraged, not dislocated in the name of false ideals.

The Polish case is eloquent. Now the desire is to also ban abortions in the case of serious medical problems for the child, already detected in the foetus. Meaning that mothers and children must suffer their whole lives, forced by the state. But not anyone can transform such a challenge in a meaningful challenge. Far too often it is just an inferno that embitters the parents and excessively torments innocent beings. The catholic attitude in these cases looks like the one against disconnecting persons from life-support machines. As if the moral principle of the quality of life would have no meaning. Which does not mean to refuse pain and disease, but only to establish a limit for extreme (and prolonged) situations.

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