The Ugliness Argument


Whenever any pro life argument gains ground, the opposition pulls out the “ugliness” argument.  What about coat hanger abortion mills?  What about cases of rape and incest?  If we don’t stop opposing abortion on demand, children who get pregnant will die from the lack of proper medical care and actions prompted by the stigma of shame.  For those who view abortion as a “woman’s right,” any restriction is tantamount to a theocratic imperialistic dictatorship, in which the poor women are controlled by a combination of their biology and the strict edicts of the government.   But let’s take on the argument that abortion must be allowed to combat other evils.

Abortion does not prevent rape or incest any more than allowing theft would prevent shootings and vandalism.  Allowing one evil does not prevent other evils.   Having abortion available does not lessen the incidents of rape or incest.  Abortion hides evil acts.  Rape and incest can be hidden indefinitely by a child not being born.  Abortion on demand without notification, without the option of alternatives, enables the abuser or the sexual predator to continue unchecked, uncaught, unabated.   The discarded unborn would be a tell tale sign of sexual activity, the DNA of the child, an inescapable proof of the people involved.

So then what about the scared teen that decides to take action herself?   This is perhaps the most tragic argument.   We should have abortion so that teens won’t make stupid decisions and try to administer the act themselves?   The coat hanger argument  is so raw, so ugly, it threatens to emotionally drown out any attempts to fight back.  Yet, the argument itself is a reason we should oppose it.  Death is senseless and tragic.  We want a society that protects children.   Abortion likewise is senseless and tragic.  We want a society that protects children.

The lie: abortion is a shield against teen foolishness.  The truth: Abortion condones teen foolishness by compounding it.   Abortion tempts you to think “You can be reckless with your sexuality, with others, with your own body without consequence.” Abortion operates as a mental and emotional eraser, allowing one to pretend nothing has taken place.

Our society has become so accustomed to not questioning the rightness or validity of choosing this act,  40 million lives have been snuffed out with little fanfare.   How do we fight back against the ugly argument of 40 million potential coat hangers?

You beat an argument of ugliness with an argument of beauty.  We have lost 40 million luminaries.  We have lost 40 million lives.  We have lost 40 million lights that would have made the world far brighter.   The March for Life takes place this January 22nd.  If you can’t go, put out some luminaries for ten souls lost to the horror and ugliness that is abortion.  Ask your friends and parish to do the same. Maybe one day, we can show the whole world what 40 million looks like via beauty, and maybe that will make someone considering ugliness, embrace beauty instead.

Copyright 2009 Sherry Antonetti


About Author

Sherry Antonetti is a mother of ten children, published author of The Book of Helen and a freelance writer of humor and family life columns. You can read additional pieces from her blog,


  1. The idea of forcing rape victims to keep the child and have contact with it is perfect! That way, a woman who gets raped more than one time could have a memory of each occasion. That isn’t ugly, its a beautiful thing. Others have said you could give the baby up for anonymous adoption but that would ruin the chain of evidence and help the criminals get away with it. I’m realizing the true beauty of your thought.

    Father’s who commit incest also could have more children of younger age so they could continue their crimes until finally caught. Amazing!

    The idea of abortion encouraging sex in teens is a little off base. The thing that has been proven to encourage sex in teens is abstinence education. The harder people push abstinence, the more teen pregnancies occur.

    Abortion is a medical procedure and has its place in any hospital. We should always strive to decrease abortions where possible but preventing access to them is a bad idea. The incremental method of outlawing one part and then the next to finally outlaw the whole thing is also transparent and thus you get those who fight back against minor steps for they know your goal and your methods.

    Maybe the best solution is to strive to decrease abortions in your religious group who believes the same way you do and leave others alone. If people spent more time on caring for those who were born and in need of help instead of fighting to make sure even more are born, we might have less poverty, crime, child abuse, and self-righteousness.

    Hope that doesn’t sound ugly.


  2. Well Garth, it sounds a bit sarcastic.

    I wonder why you are here. This is From your name and your comments it seems evident that you aren’t either a mom or necessarily Catholic. Still, you raise objections which are worth addressing.

    I will concede I could have written this tighter. I was trying to do two things at once, present an image and make an arguement. I should have picked one.

    Let’s address your concerns. In the cases of rape and incest, there are two victims, the woman and the unborn. Both are acts of great violence and cruelty, abusing relationships and injuring souls. They are evil acts. Abortion is also a killing of an innocent. It is also an evil act. It may be done out of fear, out of anger, out of despair, out of desperation, but it still involves consent to destroy a third person. The victim of a rape or of incest deserves and needs compassion, support, comfort and care. The unborn child deserves the same.

    You also twist my words, the image of beauty is to mourn what has been lost. To memorialize those who have no voice and no place in this society today because of this law. But, as I said, I could have written this tighter.

    On the subject of teens and abstinence, why if we know that chanting “Don’t do drugs. Don’t smoke.” helps discourage teen drug use and teen smoking, do we think, “Don’t have sex.” doesn’t discourage teen sexual activity? Kids model what they see, what people expect of them. High expecations by parents usually means kids act accordingly, having high expectations for themselves. Low expectations usually mean kids meet those as well. The subject however, is worthy of a longer article and I’ll begin researching it, thank you.

    As for being quiet and going to serve those who need assistance with pregnancy, the Church does that already, via pregnancy crisis centers, which pro abortion groups are currently trying to shut down, by counseling, by prayer, by witnessing, and by speaking out. As Catholics, we have an obligation as faithful citizens to speak out for the unborn, for the poor, for the weak, for the needy. As Catholics, we have an obligation to speak out against unjust laws. We cannot be silent. Silence = Complicity. This subject is far from settled, the law may exist, but that doesn’t mean the law is right.

    Lastly, Abortion isn’t simply a religious issue. It’s a human issue. It goes against natural law, just as surely as rape and incest do. Abortion isn’t just a Catholic issue. But as a Catholic, it is an issue worth speaking up about and discussing.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment and help me think things through more. I still wonder why you are here.

    See you at the March for Life, January 22.

  3. I’d just like to make a clarification that ALL are welcome at this site – we have all types of readers, and encourage a positive and Christ-like discussion on this difficult topic. Let’s keep all who will be marching on the 22nd, as well as the unborn in our prayers. I will be looking at how I personally can better support those facing crisis pregnancies in my own community.

  4. Sherry – you say, “The lie: abortion is a shield against teen foolishness.” I agree, and even think you could expand that statement to include all adults. Sadly, abortion is a decision made by women of all ages.

  5. Garth's Wife on


    I am Garth’s wife. You are correct is saying that Garth is not a mother. He is the father of my three sons, and a completely devoted one at that. We are both cradle Catholics, educated in Catholic schools through high school, and our families have practiced Catholicism for generations.

    He is here because of me. I was not given the option of the seeing the world in the black and white terms that you have been allowed. God gave me a different path. And Garth stayed by my side while I was torn apart in anguish over a situation in which I had no real choices. (That is not my assessment, but that of my spiritual advisor, a well-respected Catholic deacon and head of the religion department at one of our local Catholic high schools, and that of every doctor I could find.)

    When you have seen what my husband and I have seen, you realize that it is a dangerous world if a few people, who simply cannot know everything because only God is omnipotent, are allowed to make the decisions for everyone else in the world.

    Not everyone in the world agrees with your beliefs. Just as Hindus, who believe (just as deeply as you do) that cows are sacred, would never expect you to stop eating beef, you should not expect the world to agree to live by what you choose to believe.

    You may say that I am not a good Catholic or not Catholic at all. I don’t believe that is for anyone to judge but God, and He gave me my lot in life. Funny thing is I never felt He was far from me throughout my entire ordeal.

    Personally, I think Garth wrote eloquently and stated our opinions well. I am proud to say he is my husband.

  6. First let me say, I can’t imagine the anguish that must have put you though.

    Second, as a fellow cradle Catholic who at one time was advised by doctors for the good of my health to abort my first child, and who was also provided with opportunity to abort my ninth child, I know that there are many people in this world who disagree with this value that is Catholic. The sacredness of life from conception to birth is held to be a Truth in the Catholic Church. I know that in the case of entopic pregnancies, where the child will not survive owing to where the baby has implanted, there is a moral exculpability in that situation, but that sacredness does not disappear because a situation is difficult or agonizing.

    But just as we would not expect a Hindu to stop refusing to eat meat for fear of damaging reincarnated souls, we should not expect Catholics who believe life is sacred to shut up and be silent because others disagree.

    There is tremendous suffering in the world true. We cannot know all God intends, but we have some basic clues from scripture and from the Life of Christ and from the apostles. Christ began as we do, with Mary’s “Yes.” to life. When abortion occurs, it is a “No.” There may be extenuating circumstances but it is still a “No.” Mary had by the world’s standards, the most unplanned of all pregnancies. She could have been put to death, divorced, stoned for her “yes.” By the world’s standards, she should have said “No.” It would have been reasonable, rational, smart, practical and prudent.

    I know the world is dangerous. It is dangerous in our country and around the world from the moment of conception on. I know the world is difficult. It is difficultfrom the moment of conception on. I know that the world is made greater and more beautiful by sacrifice than by ease, by truth than by silence, by courage and by perserverance and by love. I know that pain and suffering exist every day, all day and that each of us holds crosses that at times seem unbearable. I also know, that with God all things, even forgiveness of all our sins is possible. We are never far from God, even in our darkest moments. I know this to be true, in all the aching hardness of it.

    We profess to know certain apostolic truths when we say the creed. We profess to know something of God’s will when we participate in the mass. We don’t say we think this is true, we hold by our faith, it is true.

    So I know in my bones, innocent life must be defended even if the whole world thinks it foolishness.

  7. Garth's wife on

    I am the last person who would suggest that you should not work hard to prevent abortions. Frankly, I hope you are completely success in reaching every woman who feels afraid or alone or financially unable to bear her child and letting her know that she has alternatives. I do not believe you foolish in the slightest. And I would defend your right not to choose to abort under any circumstances to the fullest extend possible.

    Where we disagree is that, if I understand you correctly, you would have the views of the Catholic Church be the law of the United States of America. You would force everyone in the United States to live by your values. That does not make sense to me. First, why should those who do not espouse your beliefs have to live by them? How would you feel if Hindus managed to pass a federal law banning the sale and consumption of beef? While you would grant that they had a right to live and act according to their beliefs, would you really want those beliefs pressed upon you?

    Secondly, you speak of saying yes or no to life. The only way a woman can make a choice to say yes, is if she has the option to say no. Absent that, there is no choice. And in some cases, that lack of choice would lead to the state-sanctioned death of the woman in addition to her child. Now, that is some of the “ugliness,” like rape and incest, to which you first referred. But that silly ugliness is thrust upon some, through no fault of their own. I believe it should be those who have no choice but to face that ugliness to make the final decision, not those who are mere spectators on the sidelines.

    Finally, I often wonder about the paradox of a God, who unmistakably chose to give each human being free will, and those who believe in that God, who are so willing to take away that free will because they know what is best for everyone. If God trusts each of us to make choices, why can’t those who follow Him?

    I suspect we are never going to find a happy middle ground here. Truthfully, although I may not agree with every detail of your beliefs, I admire that you hold yourself to a high standard. But, I will continue to fight for my freedom to make choices that are different from yours, just as I will continue to believe deeply in the infinitely loving God at the heart of the Catholic Church.

  8. Yours is a thoughtful and good representation of the view of many, not just Catholics. That we cannot impose our beliefs or else everyone else can impose their beliefs via the power of law. America is not a Theocracy, this is true. We do not wish it to become one. However, all law is at it’s core, moral. It regulates human behavior by limiting choice. We can’t drive drunk. We can’t shoplift. We can’t enter into a contract and then reneg without consequence.

    The laws of Sparta allowed for the choice to throw a child deemed unfit, in particular, girls, and those with physical or obvious defects, off a cliff or to leave them in the wild to perish. It was the right of any Spartan woman/mother to determine if she thought her child was worthy of the heritage of Sparta or not. (I’m a Greekophile in addition to being a zealot).

    The laws of the land allowed the people of Germany to send Jews and other undesirables out of their homes and to ghettoes and later, camps. Why bring up these two extreme examples? To illustrate that law absent a moral component is tyranny of will and power, Hobbesian.

    The laws of the United States allowed for the round up and extermination of Native American tribes, the holding of slaves, the segregation of races, the exclusion of women and these days, the extermination of 3000 daily unborn.

    In all of these cases, the most affected by the law had no say in the matter until people of good intent, grounded in faith and having the will to risk in some cases everything, fought to prove the inherrient injustice and immorality of existing law against a class of people defined by gender, race, class or in the unborn’s case, geography. So, I’m here doing my best Harriet Beecher Stowe imitation.

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