Boys and young men are being badly served by the kinds of role models that are sometimes held out to them, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said this week in the wake of another rugby league scandal involving sex and abortion.
Archbishop Fisher made the comments in the wake of public allegations that NRL footballer Bryce Cartwright had allegedly paid his former girlfriend $50,000 under contract to abort their unborn child.
The archbishop was one of several leaders who spoke to The Catholic Weekly saying that the saga had brought to light issues surrounding the cheapening of human life, the treatment of women by high profile men and women being pressured into abortion.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP expressed his concern saying, “I don’t know all the facts of this case – we’ve only heard one side – but there is no doubt many men pressure women into abortion so the man can escape all responsibility.”
“Women will only be free from such coercion when ours becomes a life-affirming culture and the response of everyone is to value and support them in their pregnancy and thereafter,” Archbishop Fisher continued.
“Sadly all too often boys and young men only have bad role models – and it certainly doesn’t help when they are offered self-centred role models in sports, entertainment and elsewhere who use women up and then ‘spit them out’.”
Paul Hanrahan, Executive Director of Family Life International said, “This very tragic story highlights one of the many lies surrounding the great evil of abortion.
“This young woman did not want an abortion. Pressure was maintained until she relented and a ‘settlement’ of $50,000 was agreed to. She has since donated the ‘blood money’ as she called it, to a charity.
“This lack of choice is the single most common feeling the overwhelming majority of women having abortions experience,” Mr Hanrahan said. “I have spoken to thousands – literally (thousands) – of women attending (abortion clinics) and they’ve all said ‘I have no choice.’
“If there were people willing to support them, especially the father of the baby, they would not be even considering abortion.”
Media commentator and author, Melinda Tankard Reist, who has written a book on post-abortion grief, said it was “a really distressing story.”
“The woman clearly feels grieved and distressed. There was no compassion for her and her child, and she was expressing all the clear signs of grief from the termination.
“It’s another case of men in powerful positions thinking they can buy their way out of trouble – organising a ‘hit man’ and paying $50,000 dollars,” Ms Tankard Reist said.
“The life of a child at 16 weeks gestation for a footballer’s career? What price for a life? So he could kick a football around on the footy field?
“This should be a sign to other powerful men revered in this culture that they can’t treat women like this and it points to the bigger problem of toxic messages around men and entitlement, and men running away from responsibility.”
Epping MP Damian Tudehope said he was “saddened by the tragic situation this woman now finds herself in and the feelings of regret she will carry with her for the rest of her life”.
Mr Tudehope also said, “We need to encourage men to ‘man up’, take responsibility, and wherever possible support the mother and child. It is unacceptable for any man to pressure or coerce a woman into aborting a child.”
In a press release Dr Simon McCaffrey, President of Right to Life Association NSW asked, “Has our society become so debased that lawyers and fixers can bully, coerce and contractually oblige a young woman to abort her child?”
“Were the doctors and hospital involved in this invasive procedure aware that the woman’s autonomy and consent had been hopelessly compromised?
“Was any consideration given to providing this woman with independent counseling, real support and genuine alternatives?”
Dr McCaffrey, who is a gynaecologist and obstetrician, called on NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to “thoroughly investigate these matters to ensure they never happen again.”