ROME – Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge on Monday said that there’s a link between abortion and child abuse, and a Church which “has been strong in defense of the unborn has to be no less strong in defending the young and vulnerable whenever and wherever.”
The same, he added, is true for the state.
Coleridge delivered his comments on a video that was shared on his diocese’s website, Brisbane. He’s currently one of several bishops of the Catholic Church who are participating in the final hearings by the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.
Last week during a pro-life rally, Coleridge was asked by a journalist to weigh in on Queensland’s ongoing debate about decriminalizing abortion. Under the current code, both the woman seeking an abortion and the doctor providing the procedure can be criminally prosecuted, unless it’s performed to prevent serious danger to the woman’s physical or mental health.
During the interview, as he says in his post, the archbishop was asked about new technologies that can detect disabilities and also gender-based abortion.
“I couldn’t disagree with what he was saying, because eugenics is part of the complexity surrounding abortion,” Coleridge said. “The journalist mentioned the eugenics of Nazi Germany, and again I couldn’t deny the historical fact.”
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, a pro-abortion rights Catholic, responded through Facebook, saying that she’s a Catholic but also a woman, and she “simply disagree[s] with the Church’s views on a woman’s right to choose.”
“It’s also sad that we have reached a new low in this debate when women who have abortions are compared to Nazis,” Trad wrote.
That, according to Coleridge, wasn’t the point of what he had said, but instead the fact that the proposed legislation in Queensland can open the door “to the kind of eugenics we’ve seen before and are seeing in other parts of the world now.”
“It has to do with law and policy, not the individual women who decide to have an abortion,” he said.
Coleridge, or the Catholic Church for that matter, is far from being the first to raise the risks of genetics-based abortion.
For instance, in late January, Lord Kevin Shinkwin, a member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament, gave a speech that has gone viral in many circles, in which he said: “I can see from the trends in abortion on grounds of disability that the writing is on the wall for people like me.”
Shinkwin, who is disabled, moved on to say that people with congenital disabilities are facing extinction.
“If we were animals, perhaps we might qualify for protection as an endangered species,” he said. “But we are only human beings with disabilities, so we do not.”
Coleridge also addressed Trad’s comment regarding the Church’s views on a woman’s right to choose, saying that this is slippery language, making him or the institution seem anti-woman, which “is a common stereotype.”
However, he argued, “the Church’s position is genuinely pro-woman. Women are damaged by abortion, which is a short-term solution leading often to long-term trouble.”
Then there’s also the fact that many women choose to have an abortion because they either feel or are made to feel like they have no choice, and no other choices are presented to them.
“To speak of a woman’s right to choose prompts other questions about rights: What of the rights of unborn children, or do they have no rights, no real human status? What of the rights of the spouse or partner of the woman considering an abortion? What of the rights of society to a guarantee of the right to life as the foundation on which all other rights are built? What of the rights of conscience?”
In his interview, the archbishop also spoke about the contradiction of a government that strongly opposes domestic violence but favors a greater access to abortion, which according to Church teaching, as well as much scientific research in embryonics, means terminating a human life.
According to The Daily Telegraph, on Monday Trad went after Coleridge again, saying that she “would have thought there was probably more importance in focusing on the outcomes of the findings of the Royal Commission into Child Abuse and the role the Catholic Church has played in that rather than the legislation before the Queensland Parliament,” which prompted his response.