In preparation of next week’s discussion on the abortion/breast cancer link, and other sequellae, this two-part series is reprinted.
“At the heart of science lies discovery which involves a change in worldview. Discovery in science is possible only in societies which accord their citizens the freedom to pursue the truth where it may lead and which therefore have respect for different paths to that truth.”
-John Polanyi, Canadian Nobel Laureate (Chemistry);
Commencement Address, McGill University,
Montreal, Canada, June 1990
If you haven’t read Part I of this series, it’s worthwhile, as it sets the table regarding the issue of scientific orthodoxies. The two main areas of scientific contention arising from the post-abortive experience are:
1. Post-abortion syndrome.
2. Increased risk of breast cancer.
We’ve been dealing with the breast cancer link for a few weeks. For now, we need to turn our attention to post-abortion syndrome. Is it real, or artifact? It’s a valid scientific question, and pro-lifers should not shrink from the rigors of the scientific method in analyzing just what signs and symptoms constitute this syndrome and the extent to which post-abortive women are affected by it. Further, there should be a collaborative research project designed by pro-life and pro-choice scientists, rigorously designed and executed, whose data and conclusions could not be legitimately open to partisan sniping from either side.
But what if the data suggest that post-abortion syndrome is real? Would the anonymous peer reviewers, to whom a potential article would be submitted, kill the project with endless sniping and suggestions for alteration-as happens in real life? As was discussed in Part I, scientists have their established orthodoxies and don’t let go so easily. The fields of psychology, sociology, biology, and medicine are well-populated by pro-choice proponents who have much invested in the current pro-choice orthodoxies. It’s doubtful that such a proposed study would make it past peer reviewers and the editorial boards of the more mainline journals.
The matter of funding is another nightmare altogether. Still, It’s worth the try.
In the coming weeks, I’ll have guest-posters who run post-abortive counseling and healing ministries describing post-abortive syndrome as they understand it. But is it real and do we need science to pronounce on it to make it legitimate?
The answers are yes, and no, respectively.
I don’t mean to suggest that science isn’t necessary. Quite the contrary. However, science discovers truth, it doesn’t create truth. As seen in Part I, science often blinds itself to truth until it is no longer capable of doing so. Currently, we are in the denial stage.
The beauty of science is that we often observe what we believe to be a phenomenon, and then set out to ascertain just what it is we are seeing. Often, we are afraid or unwilling to entertain someone else’s hypothesis because it contradicts our own, and the work we are trying to do based on our world view.
That’s why I lead off with that beautiful quote from Prof. John Polanyi, which is worth a great deal of serious contemplation. How willing or open are the pro-choicer’s to make a change in their worldview if the emerging data continue to point in the direction of abortion as an experience that hurts women? This would challenge the very mechanism employed by modern feminism to advance its own cause-the liberation of women from motherhood and its demands through birth control and abortion. The suggestion by so many of feminism’s founders that motherhood prevents women from being all that they can be is at once a statement of women at war with their very biological and ontological identity, and a bold-faced lie.
To say the least, it is belied by the body of literature showing that latch-key children have higher rates of substance abuse and juvenile delinquency, and that home schooled children score higher in the aggregate on standardized exams than their traditional counterparts. These mothers must know something that the feminists do not. That isn’t to say that women who choose career over children and family are any less accomplished than their domestic sisters.
The three women who have had the greatest influence on my life and development as a Catholic and as a scientist all poured their lives into nurturing students. One took a vow to live her life as a single lay woman in service to the Church. The other two were on my dissertation committee in graduate school and were mentors extraordinaire. I owe these three women a great deal. Much of who I am is because of them, because they had the time to offer, and the generosity to extend themselves. It’s not necessary for women to become mothers in order to have fulfilling lives. Nor is it necessary for mothers to eschew family to have fulfilling lives.
Then there are women such as my wife who combine both career and motherhood.
The more strident feminists are not so given to equanimity and belittle their domestic sisters, and the agony of those whose abortions torture their souls. Unfortunately, the post-abortive literature must gain the approval of these same feminists in order to make it into mainstream professional journals.
It will happen one day. For now, pro-life professionals must continue to adhere to the highest standards of scientific record keeping and data reporting. The timbers supporting the Culture of Death are beginning to creak under the strain.
They’ll yield in due season.