Matt C. Abbott
Pavone defends commentary on Robin Williams' death
By Matt C. Abbott
August 15, 2014

Like many people, I reacted to the suicide of noted actor and comedian Robin Williams with sadness. He was a talented and entertaining man. A comedic genius.

Suicide is, understandably, a very sensitive topic – one that most people don't like discussing. And the media typically don't publicize suicides, unless, of course, it's the suicide of a celebrity. But it is indeed a significant problem in our society. In fact, that's probably an understatement. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, "Every 13 minutes someone dies from suicide and it is among the top ten causes of death in the U.S."

Williams reportedly suffered from severe depression (I, too, have suffered from depression for a number of years), the early stages of Parkinson's, and had battled alcohol and drug addiction in the past.

There's one aspect of Williams' past – "an abortion that took place in the 1970s" – that was written about by Kevin Burke of Priests for Life. Click here to read his blog post. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, at least one reporter from a mainstream media outlet reacted negatively to it.

Abby Ohlheiser of The Washington Post, in the publication's "Style Blog," devotes most of her article to Rush Limbaugh's remarks on Williams' death, but mentions, in bristling fashion, Burke's commentary and Priests for Life.

I asked Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, to comment on The Post's not-so-friendly mention of his organization.

Father Pavone's response is as follows:
    Yes, indeed, the post remains and will remain on the Priests for Life website. When things happen, people comment on them, and connect them to other things that people should also be thinking about. There is in our society a deep denial about the deep damage that abortion does. Instead of reinforcing that denial, we should be breaking it. Priests for Life does that unceasingly.

    Our medical advisors, for instance, who have done extensive psychiatric research on the damage of abortion, point out that much of what passes for depression is actually grieving. Yet people in our society who are grieving over the loss of the children they killed by abortion are told by many that there is simply nothing to grieve, because the reality of the child vanishes in some imaginary realm of choice.

    Abortion is the killing of unborn children, and it is killing many men and women because of the suicidal effects of it. What happened to this particular man [the exact thinking of Robin Williams at the time of his death], we do not know. But we do know he committed suicide and we do know he lost a child by abortion, and it is simply normal and natural to point out that there is a medical connection between the two, whether or not that connection actually occurred in his life.

    Today, people will in fact kill themselves because of an abortion in their past. If we keep reinforcing the denial about that and if refuse to talk about it, their blood is on our hands.
Also, Kevin Burke has written a follow-up commentary in which he clarifies:
    I never in my article claimed his suicide was a direct relationship to his abortion loss. Only God and Williams understand the pain and torment that led him to such a desperate act. I tried to make the case based on my professional experience that there is a possible connection between his addiction struggles and his abortion loss.

    For those who are neutral or pro-abortion rights, you will have a difficult time understanding my perspective. In fact, those that support abortion rights dismiss any negative after-effects from the procedure. Research and the testimonies of hundreds of men and women clearly reveal serious emotional, physical and spiritual suffering after abortion...and the benefits of an abortion recovery program.

    I believe that in the 1970s (like millions of other couples), during a time of vulnerability, anxiety and fear, Williams and his partner participated in the death of their unborn son or daughter. Is it unreasonable when the media is saturated with stories about his addictions to suggest a connection? I did not see similar outrage from articles that touched on his struggle with addiction.

    Finally, please understand that my vocation is to educate the public about the after-effects from abortion and, most importantly, the good news of healing recovery programs. My desire was not to sensationalize the tragic death of Robin Williams, but in that painful and confusing death to bring light to what may be one area of pain in this man's life – with the hope that others might see in their own story how abortion loss may be part of their addiction issues and other symptoms. My hope is that the story would lead others to find reconciliation and healing.
Regarding suicide, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (paragraphs 2281, 2282):
    Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

    If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

    Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.
© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


Receive future articles by Matt C. Abbott: Click here

More by this author


Stephen Stone
HAPPY EASTER: A message to all who love our country and want to help save it!

Stephen Stone
The most egregious lies Evan McMullin and the media have told about Sen. Mike Lee

Siena Hoefling
Protect the Children: Update with VIDEO

Stephen Stone
Flashback: Dems' fake claim that Trump and Utah congressional hopeful Burgess Owens want 'renewed nuclear testing' blows up when examined

Matt C. Abbott
Vatican-acquitted priest: Diocese was unjust

Peter Lemiska
Last chance to save the soul of the nation

Linda Goudsmit
CHAPTER 15: Conflict Theory and the Hegelian Dialectic

Michael Bresciani
The fine line between ignorance and idiocy

Jeff Lukens
Congressional spending goes full Weimar

Rev. Mark H. Creech
Scriptural sobriety: Rethinking wine in the Lord’s Supper

Cherie Zaslawsky
April 13th, 2024: Iran’s shocking dress rehearsal

Jerry Newcombe
Is America a 'failed historical model?'

Victor Sharpe
The current malignancy of America's Fourth Estate

Tom DeWeese
The University of Tennessee uses our taxes to advocate radical energy agenda. I took them to court!

Bonnie Chernin
Pro-abortion Republicans

Cliff Kincaid
Make Sodom and Gomorrah Great Again
  More columns


Click for full cartoon
More cartoons


Matt C. Abbott
Chris Adamo
Russ J. Alan
Bonnie Alba
Chuck Baldwin
Kevin J. Banet
J. Matt Barber
Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
. . .
[See more]

Sister sites