“Ask a Priest: Should I Speak Up If I Think Someone Is Considering an Abortion?”

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Q: I am the supervisor of a young woman who just found out the baby she is carrying has Down syndrome. She is not Catholic (I don’t know if she was raised in any faith). I suspect, although she has not told me her plans and has not asked my advice, that she will be seeking to terminate the pregnancy. If she were a young non-work friend of mine, I would be willing to ask her plans and to try to convey to her that abortion is taking the life of her innocent unborn child. However, I am her supervisor in a very secular work setting, and my boss has already warned me that “you can’t say anything to her.” If I find out after the fact that she has, indeed, had an abortion, is my silence a participation in this sin? – M.D.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Since you only suspect that the young woman is thinking of abortion, you might not want to jump to conclusions yet.

But let’s say for the sake of argument that your hunch is right. What might you do?

As we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper, you might try to find a way to contact this young woman outside of work hours and offer to support her personally (not professionally) with the pregnancy and the challenges of having a baby.

I doubt that your boss has a right to control what you tell people outside of work hours.

Even on the job, you could make sure that she is familiar with the company’s maternity policy, which might spur further discussion on her part. As you get to know her situation better, you could offer (outside of work hours) testimony to the Gospel of life in a way she would understand.

In any case, your reaching out to her might be the only chance for this baby.

Maybe you could look at inspiring stories about people with Down syndrome, such as:



You might want to intensify your prayer for this young woman.

And imagine if you don’t say anything … and the worst happens. You might regret your silence for a long time.

It might be providential that you are in this woman’s life, even in a small way. She has a right to hear the message about the Gospel of Life. And you could be God’s chosen instrument to bring it to her.

Count on my prayers.

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One Comment
  1. EXCELLENT WORDS Father McIlmail.

    I was confused when you said ‘we are our brother’s keeper’ as I always heard it spoken ‘we are not our brother’s keeper.’ but then, why would it be biblically written ‘if we have problem with (spiritual) brother (sister) go and tell him his fault. Out of curiosity, I ‘googled’ the line about brother’s keeper and found the
    line read:



    Then the LORD said to Cain: Why are you angry? Why are you dejected? If you act rightly, you will be accepted;* but if not, sin lies in wait at the door: its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it. Genesis Chapter 4 deals with Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and Eve. Cain tilled the ground, Abel worked herding the flocks. The Lord looked favorably on Abel but not favorably on Cain. (just in the first lines of this reading the Spirit message is clear. Cain worked ‘the ground’ what was ‘earthly.’ Abel herded the flocks. (Spiritual metaphor for YES, we are to be ‘brother’s keeper’… ie: look out for one another, guide them (herd them)

    It was interesting that the good person seeking counsel on a delicate issue began by saying ‘the pregnant woman is not Catholic’ / I know it was just a means of saying she doesn’t know where the woman is in her faith in God, but I have often heard people describe belonging to a Christian Church and its ‘faith practices’ (religion) as saying ‘well, now … my church says we can divorce and remarry, my church says abortion is ok, my church says… and of course this is wrong interpretation to the objective of religion and church. The objective of a Christian is to HONOR GOD. Religion (faith in practice) draws a soul closer to knowing God and what God, Father (Creator of soul) wants and expects of those who ‘take the name’ of His ONLY Divine Son. Religion is the practical means of acting on the words of our Spiritual Mother Mary who said: NOT MY WILL BUT YOURS BE DONE, Lord. And with her YES, to doing God’s will, THE HOLY SPIRIT overshadowed her. ie: Mary was HOLY. She is our example of what will be for any of us taking the blessed bread ‘in remembrance of our Savior’ in that ‘state of grace’ we received thru Baptism. We are part of Mary and Jesus, (holy family) and are being made holy, aka sanctified. God, Father Son Holy Spirit is with us.

    Genesis Chapter 4 the Lord stated it clearly to Cain that ‘even if he should til the ground’ (earth) it will not give you its produce. (ie: one who offends God thru sin, cannot be blessed by God)

    SO, YES FATHER, you gave excellent answer: if you are under the grace of God by doing ‘right actions’ on earth; we are obliged to let others know also that GOOD (blessings) will not be if not doing ‘God’s will.’ Sad as it is the child to be born will have a disability… as per science, Science cannot project the extent of the disability (mild, moderate, severe) But, no matter, the woman must TRUST GOD. She must let the pregnancy continue. If, through prayer, she is guided to give child up for adoption; that is an alternative of good. If she keeps her child, God will provide her blessings and grace ‘yet to be seen’ by scientific ultrasound. Adoption is an option but abortion never is.

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