The “Throwaway Culture” Has Arrived at Our Doorstep

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin - Without a Doubt

Pope Francis has frequently used the phrase “throwaway culture” to lament the very casual way in which we dispose of unwanted members of the human family when they’re deemed burdensome, inconvenient or useless. While the Holy Father has applied this theme to a number of situations, it seems especially fitting to consider its relevance to abortion, particularly as our nation observes the 42nd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the horrible Supreme Court decision that rendered abortion legal in our nation.

For example, the Pope has described abortion as a product of a “widespread mentality of profit, the throwaway culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many. . . Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord . . . they must not be thrown away.”

This throwaway culture emerged in full view here in Rhode Island recently, when workers discovered a “fetus,” that is, an unborn baby, estimated to be about 20 weeks old, at a sewage treatment plant in East Providence. Anyone with any degree of compassion at all finds this gruesome discovery to be extremely distressing and recoils at the thought of a tiny baby being treated so shamefully.

A couple of thoughts come quickly to mind. First, if the baby was indeed 20 weeks old as the police reported, it was just a few weeks away from being very viable outside of the womb. He (it was a little boy) should have and could have been saved. And one has to worry about the mother of the baby and what prompted her to treat her child this way. We need to pray for her physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. There are lots of good folks in our community and Church who even now would quickly offer her support and assistance if she were to come forward.

As we think about the mom, though, and lament the final disposition of her baby, we should understand that similar situations occur every time an abortion takes place in our nation, and even here in our local community. According to published statistics, approximately 4,000 abortions take place per year in Rhode Island. That means there are about 4,000 babies being “disposed of.” (By the way, how are the unborn, aborted babies handled at local abortion clinics? I suppose they’re just labeled “medical waste,” victims of the throwaway culture the Pope laments.)

Additionally, 4,000 abortions mean that about 4,000 women will live with the physical and psychological harm of this unnatural, invasive procedure, along with the spiritual harm of having destroyed their own child, one of God’s precious creations.

Leading the charge in this war on children, of course, is Planned Parenthood.

It’s well-documented that Planned Parenthood is America’s largest abortion provider. At least one out of every four abortions in the U.S. is performed in a Planned Parenthood facility. Since 1970 Planned Parenthood has performed a staggering 5.3 million abortions. According to the Susan B. Anthony List, abortions account for 94% of the services provided for pregnant women by Planned Parenthood.

And to make matters even more troubling, the immoral activities of Planned Parenthood are supported by the federal government, by your tax dollars and mine. During the most recent fiscal year, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America received more than $500 million from American taxpayers, accounting for 40% of the group’s total revenue. We need to say to our congressional delegation – for all that is good and holy, the public funding of Planned Parenthood must stop!

Let’s be very clear. Planned Parenthood is a destructive, immoral organization. The primary reason for its existence is the termination of pregnancy, i.e., the death of unborn children. How any Catholic worthy of the name can be supportive of, or associated in any way with, Planned Parenthood and its evil agenda is completely beyond me.

Our response to the throwaway culture, however, shouldn’t be a partisan matter of being Catholic or non-Catholic, conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat. It’s a question of human rights, fundamental human dignity. It should concern us all! As Pope Francis has written so eloquently: “Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us . . . The defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right . . . It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.” (Evangelii Gaudium, #213-214)

“It’s not progressive to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.” That’s a statement we need to think about, for the Pope’s declaration applies to many issues and problems in our culture today.

Recently I awoke to a headline in the Providence Journal that said, “Slaughter of the Innocents.” Finally, I thought, the Journal is writing against abortion. Instead, the editorial was about the recent terrorist attack on a school in Pakistan that resulted in the death of 141 people, including 132 students, indeed an unspeakable, horrible event. The editorial, passionate and well-written, includes a comment by Pakistan Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, who mourned the death of the children by saying, “The smaller the coffin, the heavier it is to carry.”

Beautifully said. But, I wonder, how small are the coffins of the aborted children here in Rhode Island, or rather the coffins they would have if they were given a proper and dignified burial? Not to worry, though. Here in Rhode Island we just throw them away.