Family member and abortion


I’m not sure where to start. My BIL was raised Catholic but is definitely not practicing. I am pretty sure he considers himself to be an atheist. He has done a lot of things that his family doesn’t agree with (drugs, promiscuous behavior, etc), but they have always loved him anyway (which of course I agree with).

BIL is in his mid-thirties and has never married. Recently, when DH was talking to him, he asked him half-jokingly if he was ever going to have kids. BIL’s response was, “Don’t tell Mom, but {ex-GF} had an abortion.” DH was stunned and didn’t know what to say. BIL went on to make a very crass comment that indicated that he had absolutely no remorse. He and the ex-GF broke up about 3-4 years ago, so apparently time has not changed his mind.

FWIW, we don’t believe that this was something she did without his knowledge or consent - she wanted to get married and have kids, and he broke up with her because she was “too clingy.” We heard through the grapevine that she had a baby (not sure if she’s married to the dad or not), and BIL made comments about her “trapping” the guy. But, even if it was completely her decision, he made it clear that he was happy about it. :bighanky:

I asked DH what he wanted to do. He is understandably upset, but he is also pretty non-confrontational. He doesn’t want to tell their mom because of how it would hurt her (and I agree). But he also doesn’t really want to talk to BIL. I’m guessing he thinks it won’t do any good, and will just upset him (DH) more, and that is likely, but he wants to just try to cut BIL off as much as possible. I’m not really sure how that’s going to work without saying anything…we only see him a couple times a year, and if we go out of our way to avoid him, people will notice (and will ask), and if we don’t, then it’s kind of like we’ve just accepted the situation and are okay with it.

I could use any suggestions or support here…there isn’t really anyone I can talk to about it IRL, and I don’t want to upset DH more by bringing it up again.


Is he the only family member you have who is a sinner? Talking to a family member doesn’t mean you are okay with their sins.

If you only see him a couple of times a year, I wouldn’t even worry about trying to avoid him. You’re already as good as avoiding him.


One of my brothers in law is a non-praciticing catholic. He talks a lot about drug use, support of gay marriage, and seemingly promiscious behaviour. We state our disapproval and move on, but for the most part we ignore it and try to focus on the positive aspects of our relationship.


I’m sorry, I’m a bit puzzled. Are you saying that because we’re all sinners, we need to smile and pretend like everything’s fine? Even when someone has committed what I thought we could agree is a very grievous sin, which he has no remorse or repentance for? I can understand possibly doing this to protect MIL, but I didn’t realize this was the Church’s teaching on these situations in general. I am not being snarky, I am a bit of a lapsed Catholic, so I really don’t know what the teaching is.


I personally would very strongly state my disapproval, but I don’t think DH wants to. We are grieving the loss of a niece or nephew (our only one), and our children’s only cousin. It is not a conversation that would go very well. DH can barely talk to me about it. So I think he wants to somehow sort of avoid BIL without letting anyone know, which I am trying to figure out how to go about doing. He has said that if MIL notices anything, he will tell her that he disapproves of something BIL did, and leave it at that.


I’m saying that he’s not the only sinful family member you have, so why would you stop talking to him over his sin and keep talking to others even though they are also sinners?

It’s inconsistent.


Pray for him, pray for his baby. Someday, he will regret his lost fatherhood and a good relationship with you two will give him a soft place to land.


As Kage said, yes, someday he will inevitably regret it. Even if it is in his judgment.

God is infinitely just. Pray for his conversion.

The baby is certainly in God's hands, since it did nothing wrong.


This is very good advice. If he never lives to regret what happened, the prayers may pay off in other ways. And if he does, he knows your and your husband’s feelings and you may indeed be able to supply support when there seems to be little available.

This is not very helpful. Especially in light of your previous statement “I don’t have a problem with abortion for any reason.” It would seem that you don’t have the same understanding of sin as the OP and may not be a good source of advice for someone in her position.


pray for him.... in situations where the person is unrepentant, does not recognize sin as sin, and doesn't want to be lectured, prayer works best.

don't let what you've learned change how you respond to him. you and your husband don't see him often anyway, but if your husband feels moved to someday mention this to him and talk about it, that should be between brother and brother, Catholic to non-Catholic.

it's certainly not ok, and it's heart-breaking to hear people speak of abortion with pride and flippancy. but it's God who melts hearts of stone and convicts people, not us. avoiding him will not help him to understand what is wrong with his perspective, and will probably make things tenser.


This is exactly what I was trying to say in my last post. I just lacked the words. Living these lifestyles will usually drive one into the ground. It may take a while, but being his “soft place to land” when the wages of his sin catches up with him may just help him turn back to Christ.


Look, your BIL told you and your husband this on purpose. He *chose *to disclose this. He could have made some vague “ha ha” comment to the question of when he was going to have kids. Instead he said something designed to shock and offend.

So, in my book-- people like that don’t get invited back to do more damage.

You need to pray for him. You need to love him as a child of God. You need to continue to be a good example for him. But you do not need to cut him off. If it’s only a few times a year that you see him-- I imagine holidays at Mom’s-- then just be pleasant but keep him at a distance.

If he asks why, tell him the truth. Tell him you are not comfortable that he is so callous about killing his own child and that it will take time to move past that. And, tell him you absolutely will NOT lie to your MIL. If this ever comes up, or he ever gets the idea he can try out shock value on you again, you will NOT keep confidences for him.


The man didn’t even have an abortion though, his ex-girlfriend did. It seems strange to me to stop talking to a family member because he doesn’t feel sorry that his ex girlfriend had an abortion, especially when they only talk a few times a year.

I was pointing out that many people sin. Many people for example have had premarital sex and don’t regret it, does she refuse to talk to any of them? That is a mortal sin. Many people have divorced and remarried, does she refuse to talk to them? Why this focus on him in particular, it doesn’t make sense especially given that he didn’t even have an abortion, his ex did.


I think this is another case where the full gravity hasn’t sunk in due to the fact that its an abortion. Put it this way: Would you be unconfrtable around a man whose ex-girlfriend had the man’s child, then hired someone to cut the child into pieces and throw that child into a dumpster.

I think you’d be uncomfortable around him if he treated such a thing flippantly with no sign of sadness at the muder of his child.

When determining the atrocity of abortion, equate it to a child who has been born. I just don’t see how passing through the “birth canal” gets one more rights. ;):thumbsup:


I’m sure the OP doesn’t want this thread turned into a debate about the morality of abortion.

I also am not saying she should be best friends with this guy. She herself said that it would be uncomfortable and weird for her to avoid him on the few times a year that they do meet, that family members would notice, and that it would create discomfort. She also says she feels she must do this because otherwise it will be as though she approves of the abortion.

My whole point was that talking to him a few times a year doesn’t mean she approves of the abortion, so she can go ahead and talk to him to avoid family drama and discomfort. I gave the example that very likely the vast majority of the family committed sins, and she talks to them anyway, and her doing so doesn’t imply that she is okay with their sins.


Thanks, I have been doing this. :slight_smile:

Yes, that does give me some comfort. Thanks.

Thanks, those are very good points.

Yes, we generally only see him on holidays at MIL’s…he has always been invited here, but he rarely comes. If he asked, I would tell him, and I think DH would too. Also, DH is not keeping it from MIL because of any confidences. I don’t think BIL even waited for agreement on not telling her before he plowed ahead. Regardless, DH told me that he is not concerned with protecting BIL, he is concerned with not hurting MIL.

To be clear, this was his child, not something that was in her past before they got together. At a minimum, he went along with it happily. We do suspect that he may have pressured her, both from the way he talked about it and the dynamics of their relationship, but we don’t know that for sure. Regardless, he participated willingly and that is enough to be disturbing.

As far as other people’s sins, I have not had anyone else flaunt their lack of remorse at me, so I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt that they have repented.

Yes, thank you, that is a good comparison.


crass comments, but ***he told his brother!!! ***i think his crass comments indicate a struggle within.

thank you God for the struggles within!!!

i believe hardness of heart AND abortion may be amongst the evils about which Jesus said, “can only come out through prayer and fasting.”

pray for your bother in law and fast for him, too.

perhaps your husband can send him in the mail a flier for rachels vineyard with a note that reads: “dear brother. i love you. someday you might want to talk more about your abortion experience. you can always talk to me, or to these people here.”


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit