The Scapegoat’s Killer

“He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites — all their sins — and put them on the goat’s head” (Lv 16:21a).

With these words the Bible explains the origin of Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement.” It is also the origin of the term “scapegoat.” The goat, who is innocent, carries away the sins of the guilty. This ritual of the Israelites was commanded by God and quite legitimate. But the human mind seeks to “scapegoat” in all kinds of illegitimate ways. We want the innocent to take our guilt, because we are unwilling to take responsibility for it and resolve the issues that lead us to sin in the first place.

The ideal scapegoat is as innocent as can be, and yet defenseless. It is difficult to kill when the victim protests. In this respect, we can understand abortion in our society as a collective act of “scapegoating.” We place on the head of the unborn child all our unresolved guilt. Whether it be our interpersonal conflicts, sexual sins, or immature denials of responsibility, we use the unborn child as the scapegoat of our guilt.

The Book of Leviticus goes on to say that the High Priest, after laying the people's sins on the goat, “shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task” (Lv 16:21b). If abortion in our day can be seen as scapegoating, then the “man appointed for the task” is the abortionist.

Dr. Philip Ney, in his book The Centurion's Pathway, describes the thoughts and feelings of this appointed man:

I don't know how I got picked, but I sure don't like this job. Everybody thinks I am doing a fine thing. This kid didn't hurt anybody. Now I'm going to be responsible for its miserable death. I deeply resent having to do the job that nobody else wants. (p.1)

Abortionists resent their work and feel trapped between the stigma of the activity and the thought that “somebody has to do it.”

In the book Second Trimester Abortion, which is a compilation of papers written by abortionists and others in the industry, we find a chapter called “Psychological Impact on Patients and Staff.” We read,

Soon after voluntary abortion became a legal reality, some authorities observed an unanticipated, strong emotional reaction by the staff…. One nurse said, “I dream about it…the abortions affect me personally. I know some day I will deliver and think of that. It's changed my ideas. I used to be intellectually very positive about the subject of abortion, but the part of me that has to do it feels really resentful.” (pp. 242, 245)

On March 10, the abortion movement observes the “Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers.” Please join Priests for Life in praying for the conversion of these poor tormented people, and inviting them to freedom!

Fr. Pavone is the Founding Director of Priests for Life. You may contact Priests for Life at PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314; Tel: 888-PFL-3448 or 718-980-4400; Fax: 718-980-6515; Email:; Website:

Fr. Frank Pavone


Father Frank A. Pavone is an American Roman Catholic priest and pro-life activist. He is the National Director of Priests for Life and serves as the Chairman and Pastoral Director of Rachel's Vineyard.

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