“It’s very difficult for us to recapture people’s motivations for carrying out this practice[.] … Perhaps it was out of … a sense that the good the sacrifice could bring the family or community as a whole outweighed the life of the child.” —Dr. Josephine Quinn, on Carthaginian ritual infant sacrifice
“The reasons and need for abortion (health, severe diagnoses, financial, protection of family resources, etc) do not go away during a pandemic. In fact, they are likely to be exacerbated.” —Jen Villavicencio, M.D.
In the midst of, and as a result of, our current global pandemic, the battle over abortion has escalated to a fever pitch. Five states — Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Iowa — have declared abortion non-essential, and have effectively banned the procedure for the duration of the outbreak. Planned Parenthood and so-called “abortion rights” groups, however, have filed lawsuits against all five states, and it remains to be seen whether these bans will be upheld in the higher courts.
Meanwhile, the abortion lobby is pushing back hard, not just against the bans, but for increasing access to unsupervised DIY medical abortions, arguing that prescriptions for abortion pills should be made available via telemedicine, without an in-person appointment at any point in the process — allowing women to literally flush their children down the toilet without any supervision.
Both sides are gearing up for a fight to the finish. The coronavirus may be what definitively propels this nation in one direction or the other — toward sane provisions for the protection of life or irretrievably farther into the black hole of the culture of death.
Did anyone see this coming? If we didn’t, we probably should have — because where God has been abandoned, societies have always devolved into using child sacrifice as a means of solving their problems, especially in times of crisis.
The ancient Carthaginians, for example, sacrificed newborns at a place called Tophet. It is thought that these sacrifices “may … have been seen as a philanthropic act for the good of the whole community,” states Dr. Josephine Quinn, a lecturer in ancient history at Oxford. Some experts conjecture that these sacrifices were instruments of population control and that well-to-do Carthaginians used them as a means of preserving their wealth.
Child sacrifice is a well documented facet of early Mesoamerican cultures. For example, at El Manatí, an Olmec “sacred place” dedicated largely to the worship of water, archaeologists Ortiz and Rodriguez unearthed countless bones of “newborn (and possibly unborn) human babies,” including “infants whose bodies had apparently been dismembered and/or cut into sections” interred alongside figures of pagan deities.
Franciscan Friar and missionary Bernardino de Sahagún documented the child sacrifice rituals of the Aztecs in great detail. One of their gods, Tlaloc, required the tears of these children to wet the earth, else the rains would not come — so they believed. Consequently, if the children did not cry, priests would tear off their fingernails prior to the sacrifice.
According to researcher Andrew K. Scherer, the Maya also performed child sacrifice in certain circumstances. Infant sacrifices, for example, might be performed to appease supernatural beings who might otherwise have eaten the souls of more important people.
In Peru, the Chimú people sacrificed children “to appease the El Niño [weather] phenomenon,” according to archaeologist Feren Castillo. The later Inca culture drugged their child victims with alcohol and coca (the leaf from which cocaine is made) prior to their sacrifices, which were performed on a variety of occasions, including during wars and natural disasters.
Today, two of the most common justifications for abortion are financial unpreparedness and a desire to control family size — echoes of Carthage. Another common justification is the prioritization of personal goals, like career and education, over the birth of a child — me over you, with echoes of the Maya. Bernie Sanders thinks abortion can help save the world from climate change — echoes of the Aztecs and Chimú. Planned Parenthood dismembers pre-born children and sells their parts for profit — echoes of the Olmecs.
What’s perhaps most disturbing are the echoes of the Incas. Like them, many are using a natural disaster — in our case, a pandemic — to justify the slaughter of our children.
Take, for example, Heather Artrip, a Texas woman currently seeking an abortion who said: “I … would like to have a third child at some point. Right now is not ideal considering we are experiencing a global crisis, a pandemic.” Then there’s Kamyon Conner, the executive director of the Texas Equal Access Fund, who claimed that now is a “particularly bad time” to restrict abortion, since coronavirus-related unemployment is making it even more difficult to financially support a child, and women may worry about the consequences of being pregnant during a pandemic.
Meera Shah, chief medical officer for a New York City–area Planned Parenthood affiliate, stated: “Abortion care is essential and life-affirming, especially now when there is so much insecurity around jobs and food and paychecks and childcare.” She continued, “People are really thinking hard about continuing their pregnancy right now. It feels scary for a lot of people.” She also stated that she has noticed an uptick in their number of abortion appointments.
If women are so scared to be pregnant right now that they are considering and choosing abortion, the environment on social media is certainly not helping. Dr. Jasmine Patel, OB-GYN, tweeted: “By postponing abortions, you are sentencing a woman to pregnancy that has more risks for her health and transmission of #COVID19.” Lara Adams-Miller, a self-proclaimed “biological healthcare professional” (whatever that means), tweeted that the state abortion bans are “particularly sinister in light of how at-risk pregnant women are to srs covid-19 complications.” Kae Bender likened unplanned and unwanted pregnancy during the pandemic to “torture,” and Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL, called it “inhuman.”
And then there are the folks who are overtly advocating abortion as a response to the pandemic, like Heather4amazon on Twitter, who stated: “What costs more resources[:] 1) a doctor’s visit and a couple of pills[, or] 2) months of prenatal visits and birth[,] resulting in a hospital stay[?]” And, perhaps most blunt of all, Hayley Vecchio said this on Facebook:
You might be thinking modern-day abortion, although perhaps done for the same reasons, is not the same as ancient ritual infant sacrifice. For one thing, where’s the ritual?
Believe it or not, it is not at all uncommon for women to engage in some kind of ritual behavior around their abortion experience. This phenomenon is described in Dr. Susan T. Poppema’s book Why I Am an Abortion Doctor:
Some women … stage what amounts to rituals around the procedures. A patient came in recently with her partner and brought candles, clearly making the experience a ritual way of saying, “I am proud of myself for making this choice, also sad about the choice.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg. A simple web search yielded dozens of pre-scripted abortion rituals. I found several combining neo-paganism with Judaism, for example, including this:
Bless You, Rachamaima, Compassionate Nurturer of Life, who helps us choose life. Amen. I was on the abortion table when this prayer just came to me, addressed in the feminine[.] … Divinity here is a compassionate, female gestater of life[.] … During the abortion, my partner kept whispering the prayer in my ear, over and over, the syllables incantatory.
Another quasi-Jewish abortion ritual has two parts — “the first is for casting out, and the second is for purifying, or cleansing” — involves multiple people, includes scripted prayers to the “Divine Presence,” and utilizes two bowls of water (one of which is meant to represent the mikveh) and bread crumbs. The perversion of the mikveh into an abortion ritual appears to be fairly common. Then there’s this Judeo-pagan “self-birthing” abortion ritual, also involving a mikveh element, which focuses on affirming one’s own “inner beauty and Divine sparks” and “involves blessing of the newborn/renewed self.” It is essentially self-worship.
But don’t think the Jewish tradition is alone in this behavior — far from it. The Pregnancy Options website has conveniently compiled abortion rituals for and from virtually every faith tradition, including a Native American ritual, a Buddhist ritual, a pagan ritual, and a ritual “based on Christian and … African-American [c]ultural [t]raditions” involving “a plant, water in a container … a white candle, a glass or metal bowl (in which paper can be burned)” and ancestor worship. One of the many elaborate pre-scripted prayers in this particular ritual states:
I embrace my faith and African principles that empower me to choose. I choose because God has entrusted me with the power of choice. I choose for myself thereby I am living the principle of kujichagulia[.] … It teaches [b]lack people to name themselves and their reality and to choose for themselves. I am naming my reality and choosing for myself.
Yet another ritual on this site — described as a “liturgy” and including a “celebrant” — includes prayers to “Holy Wisdom,” “Mother Goddess,” and “Father God” and ends with an anointing with oil not unlike what occurs at Confirmation.
The mockery of Holy Mother Church doesn’t end there. There’s actually an abortion ritual for “Hispanic Catholic women,” which employs multiple sacramentals and centers on prayer to the Virgin Mary.
If there’s any remaining doubt in your mind that what we are doing today in the form of abortion is analogous to what our ancestors did in the form of infant sacrifice, these final two rituals ought to dispel it. First, this ritual from Sarah Kerr, Ph.D., a self-described “death doula”:
The image we held for Gabriel [the baby] was of a lighthouse, flashing a loving message to him … letting him know … that he was not going to be able to land here. We told him the date for which abortion had been scheduled, and that if he wanted to turn around on his own, he could do so before then. Otherwise, his parents would go ahead with the procedure, bringing as much beauty and love to it as they could[.] … We offered prayers of gratitude to those who have fought so hard to make abortion safe and legal[.] … We carried our prayer bundle outside to the fire pit, and built a hot, beautiful fire[.] … We called out, by name, to the ancestors who would be waiting for [the baby][.] … We prayed that his voyage be blessed. And we laid the bundle on the fire. Then we turned and … listened while the offering was received by the hungry fire spirits.
And finally, as if that weren’t close enough to ancient pagan nature-worship, there’s this, found on Facebook:
Commenting on the modern revulsion to ancient child sacrifice, Dr. Josephine Quinn stated: “We like to think that we’re quite close to the ancient world, that they were really just like us — the truth is, I’m afraid, that they really weren’t.” Actually, doctor, you might want to re-examine that position. We’re still sacrificing our babies, often in an overtly ritual manner. The only elements that have changed are the methods being used and the gods being worshiped. Today, the gods in whose name these sacrifices are committed are science; money; success; and, primarily, the victim’s own mother, who essentially deifies herself by claiming authority over life and death in the name of achieving her own ends.
And now, during a plague that might well be a chastisement from God for our sins — including and especially that of abortion — the bloodthirsty gods are crying out for even more slaughter. Just when we most urgently ought to be repenting of such heinous crimes, the forces of darkness are pushing us to kill the innocent on an even grander scale.
Will you sit idly by and watch the escalation of violence from the sidelines as an impotent spectator? Or will you take action to defend the defenseless at this most critical moment, when we are potentially poised to finally win this bloody war? When you stand before the judgment seat of God, how will you answer for your downtime during this period of crisis?
Get involved. Make calls to your local legislators. Write letters and emails to your governor and congresspeople. Express your support to those leaders who are defending life — they need the encouragement — and let those who are promoting abortion know that they will never have your vote until they change. Pray — every day. And if you are able, reach out to the abortion-minded and strive, in charity and with patience, to change minds and hearts. Don’t wait. The right time is right now.
Our hands are bathed in the blood of the innocent. What will you do to make atonement?
Bettina di Fiore is a writer and liturgical seamstress based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated with honors from Mills College with a BA in English in 2008. Her blog, Watching the Whirlwind, offers cultural commentary from a Catholic perspective and personal pieces concerning her own radical conversion experience. She also contributed her conversion story to Patrick Madrid’s 2017 book Surprised by Life under the pen name AnneMarie Schreiber.