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December 17, 2013

Shooting Pregnant Women as Targets

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos 
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The news coming - as much as does come - to light will make your hairs stand on end regarding the civil war being carried out in Syria. We hear of and see bombings, killings, the displacement of people and massacres reminiscent of the times of the persecutions in the third and fourth centuries, and this causes us unbearable pain. This area needs to be continuously in our prayers and we pray for its peace, especially for our Orthodox Christian brethren, clergy, monastics and lay people, who are suffering and living in fear of a horrible death.

However, one piece of news that has reached us is "the game of shooting pregnant women as targets". A British doctor who worked voluntarily in hospitals in Syria, David Nott and his colleagues, found that pregnant women were shot by snipers of the Assad regime, in specific parts of their bodies, when attempting to go from region to region in order to find food and other supplies. They observed that they had been shot in the area of the stomach as if doing exercises shooting pregnant women in the location of the fetus. The British doctor said that "Syria was the first country seen to use pregnant women as targets", and described it as "a bullet stuck into the fetal brain". Distributed also was an x-ray photo of an embryo in which "a bullet is distinguished above the eyes". At the same time he said: "I cannot describe how shocking it was. Usually, civilians are injured or killed when they fall into a crossfire. It was the first time I saw something like this. It was hell beyond hell." (Ta Nea, 10/21/2013).

One thinks of the innocent fetus preparing to enter a world of unrest and war, and in the first months of fetal life they experience the fury of people and the horrors of war. In what kind of world of atrocities and hatred do we live! Can we not even protect fetuses, these innocent beings. After such things, are there any who proclaim that devils do not exist! Of course demonic powers exist, which are fallen angels, but also in our time people themselves have become instruments of demons, and they themselves are altered into demons by the hatred and vengefulness that distinguishes them. For this reason, every time I liturgize I pray for and commemorate our brethren who are being tested hard in Syria, the Middle East and throughout the earth.

I cannot, however, not make other associations. Many feel horrible that fetuses are dying by the bullets of snipers, but at the same time do not feel horrible when, daily, fetuses are murdered by the "scientific" powers of physicians with the parents themselves! When one studies the methods by which abortions take place, then one would be appalled from these events and the hypocrisy of people, since they stigmatize that they are "shooting pregnant women as targets" during war and are silent every day when this targeted crime is done in clinics.

Life has value and should be protected, especially when the one that has life, such as a fetus, cannot protect themselves.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Σκοποβολή μέ στόχο ἐγκύους", November 2013. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.