Former Abortion Provider Speaks at Loyola U. Chicago

Judith Arcana I’ve heard some pretty outrageous things about Women’s Studies programs in my day, but this one takes the biscuit. Judith Arcana was recently invited by the Loyola University Chicago Women’s Studies Department to be a guest lecturer in a bioethics class (Bioethics 395: The Ethics of Human Reproduction), and to do a performance of her own work. Who is Judith Arcana, you ask? For two years, she was a member of The Abortion Counseling Service of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union — which was better known by its nickname, “Jane”. Its history spanned a roughly five year period prior to the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions in 1973. (The picture of Arcana at the top of this post was taken during her time with Jane.) According to the CWLU Herstory Editorial Committee:

Jane was the CWLU’s underground illegal abortion provider that performed over 11,000 safe abortions, many performed by Jane members themselves. [source]

Yes, you read that correctly. Jane wasn’t your garden variety “pro-choice” organization; it wasn’t even an abortion referral service. The members of Jane actually performed abortions. In a talk given in London in 1999, Arcana described how Jane — which she referred to as “The Service” — functioned:

Women joined the Service through periodic orientation meetings, and learned the necessary tasks from those who had come before them. Once their counseling skills had been developed in new recruits, and the group had come to trust them, they could learn more – doing everything from basic record keeping to becoming a medic, one who performed abortions. Ultimately, we learned to do abortions in all three trimesters. Although we did only a handful in the third, as you may imagine, there were many in the second, no doubt because illegality forced women and girls to take so much time searching for abortionists and saving up money. The methods that we learned, we primarily learned from one man. He was not a doctor, but he was the best. Once we understood that many of the people doing abortions at that time were not doctors, we realized that we could do it too. This would mean women would not have to be charged a lot of money, could even come through the Service free. So we pressed this man to teach us, as he had been taught. He was an extraordinary man in many ways, had been doing this work, and maybe other illegal work, virtually all of his life.

She also noted:

‘Our’ abortionist liked us, thought we were cool (which we were!), and we liked him, so it was a good arrangement all around. He eventually taught one of us, and then let others watch. Eventually, the one he had taught then taught others.

Loyola University Chicago student Alicia Torres recently e-mailed us with a report on Arcana’s lecture to the bioethics class last week. Curiously, it seems, Torres reports that Arcana was “very much against artificial reproductive technology” — but she still has no problem with abortion:

Dr. Arcana believes that abortion can and should be done with grace, compassion and care. She said that giving life can be just as compassionate as taking life away. She accepted that abortion is the taking of a human life, and justified it by means of compassion.

This is entirely consistent with this response Arcana gave in the aforementioned London talk (which, rather interestingly, runs directly contrary to most mainstream “pro-choice” argumentation):

I think there is a need for us to talk more about what it is we are doing, when we carry out or support abortion. We – in the states – have dealt heavily, up to now, in euphemism. I think one of the reasons why the ‘good guys’ – the people in favor of abortion rights – lost a lot of ground is that we have been unwilling to talk to women about what it means to abort a baby. We don’t ever talk about babies, we don’t ever talk about what is being decided in abortion. We never talk about responsibility. The word ‘choice’ is the biggest euphemism. Some use the phrases ‘products of conception’ and ‘contents of the uterus,’ or exchange the word ‘pregnancy’ for the word ‘fetus.’ I think this is a mistake tactically and strategically, and I think it’s wrong.. And indeed, it has not worked – we have lost the high ground we had when Roe was decided. My objection here is not only that we have lost ground, but also that our tactics are not good ones; they may even constitute bad faith. It is morally and ethically wrong to do abortions without acknowledging what it means to do them. I performed abortions, I have had an abortion and I am in favor of women having abortions when we choose to do so. But we should never disregard the fact that being pregnant means there is a baby growing inside of a woman, a baby whose life is ended. We ought not to pretend this is not happening.

It’s bad enough when a Catholic university gives a platform to a pro-abortion politician or other public figure — that in itself is prohibited by the U. S. Catholic Bishops. Loyola, like so many other Catholic universities, has done that before. But the fact that a Catholic university has given a platform to someone who actually facilitated abortions, has no regrets about having done so, and who, by her own admission, understands that abortion is the taking of a baby’s life — takes the word “scandal” to a whole new level. It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. As many of you know, both Annie and I are graduates of Loyola University Chicago. Both of us received an excellent education there, and were privileged to encounter many Jesuits there who have an undying love for the Faith. Sadly, however, an increasing sense of disloyalty has crept its way into the Society of Jesus. This sense of disloyalty allows for an environment in which even the viewpoints of an unapologetic former abortion provider are tolerated out of a horribly misguided understanding of “academic freedom”. The Society of Jesus is the same order whose founder — for whom Loyola University is named — wrote:

To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.

The Society of Jesus is also the same order that gave us numerous martyr saints who were killed specifically for their loyalty to the Catholic Church’s teachings. Now, universities run by the order have openly adopted abortion-friendly policies, and one has gone so far as to give a platform to an actual former abortion provider. The hanged, drawn, and quartered body of the great English Jesuit Saint Edmund Campion must be turning over in his grave.

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