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New Interest in Serbian Abortionist turned Pro Life Advocate

For some reason, there is a sudden flurry of interest on American websites in Stojan Adasevic, the Serbian former abortionist who became a pro-life advocate some years ago. Adasevic, now an Orthodox Christian, explains that he had a change of heart following a series of strange experiences, beginning when he was a student:

Stojan Adasevic will never forget the day he was organizing the filing cabinet in the doctors’ room. He was a medical student at the time… A number of gynecologists entered the room. Paying no attention to the student crouched over a pile of papers in the corner, they began swapping stories about their medical practice…As the gynecologists went on discussing [one] woman’s history, Stojan, who had been listening in, suddenly stiffened. He realized that the woman under discussion — a former dentist at the nearby clinic — was his mother.

This apparently did not deter him from his career path, but while performing “between 48,000 and 62,000” terminations (up from “10,000” in this 2002 article), Adasevic began to have nightmares in which children and young people fled from him and called him a murderer. A “man in black” introduced himself as Thomas Aquinas – of whom Adasevic says he had never heard – and asked:

“Do you not know that here, on this side of the eschaton, children continue to grow?” The Doctor refused to yield: “But I have never killed a twenty-year-old boy”. “You killed him twenty years ago” replied the monk, “when he was three months old”.

After this, Adasevic claims to have performed an abortion in which

…upon withdrawing the forceps, now certain that he had reduced everything to a pulp, he produced a human heart! The organ was still beating.

Aquinas had written on fetal development in the Thirteenth Century. Many sources summarise his argument; here’s one:

In his Summa Theologica he divided the powers of the soul between “sensitive” and “vegetative.” In the section of that work labeled Question 118, “Of the Production of Man from Man as to the Soul,” he delcared that the vegetative soul exists from the moment of conception, but the sensitive soul, which is not procreated but rather created anew with each person, cannot be transmitted within the semen…He maintained that at approximately the end of the first trimester, when the soul enters the fetus, the fertilized ovum first becomes a full human being. (1)

Aquinas also argued that abortion before this period was still sinful, although not the same as homicide, and the “sensitive” soul entered later for females than for males – Adasevic believes Aquinas erred in following Aristotle on this rather than taking conception as the beginning of human life.

Adasevic repudiates Milosevic, and claims that the slaughter of the Balkans War was due to the “lack of respect for human life” that abortion engendered. However, a couple of 1993 quotes attributed to him  suggest a nationalist perspective. First, there’s this:

In order for the nation to survive, every woman must bear at least three children… “Those groups who praise free and planned parenthood, and the unchallengeable right of a woman to abortion, should not forget that in a state subject to the rule of law no one is the master of his own body, whether male or female. A woman must bear herself a replacement, and a man must go to war when the state summons him. (2)

Further thoughts appear in a letter re-posted here:

the feminists’ agenda did not really seek to free women from the hands of illegal abortionist, but rather, their aim was to assist the biologic destruction of Christians. When the enemies of Serbian people could not manage to destroy us by other means, they decided to do it by biologic means…they don’t fight at all to free women from the hands of illegal abortionists, but, in fact, they fight for the biologic destruction of Orthodox and especially Serbian people. (3)

Further religious context is provided in this 2004 piece from the Women’s Heath Research Network:

The Serbian Orthodox Church, as the religious community that constitutes the majority in Serbia and Montenegro insists on the need for increasing the birth rate and diminishing reproductive rights (particularly abortion)…The sovereign right of the woman to decide on abortion ought to be abolished, whereas the right of the state should be increased and the right of the father to decide about his posterity should also be introduced. Gynecologist Stojan Adasevic speaks in the same spirit and has also published a book called The Sanctity of Life, with the financial support of SPC [The Serbian Orthodox Church]. According to Adasevic, the problem lies in the moral and ideological approach to childbearing and sexuality. The concept that the aim of the sexual drive is reproduction, not pleasure, ought to be firmly established, as well as the notion that this drive is closely bound to an ultimate duty towards oneself, one’s environment, one’s nation and the state.

****

(1) William Petersen, From Persons to People: Further Studies in the Politics of Population, Transaction Publishers, 2003, pp. 113-114.

(2) Apparently this appeared in Vreme, 19 April 1993, p. 55, and is cited in Wendy Bracewell, “Women, Motherhood, and Contemporary Serbian Nationalism,” in Women’s Studies International Forum, 19 (1/2), 1996, p. 28.  Bracewell’s article in turn is cited by Jeremy Shiffman, Marina Skrabalo, and Jelena Subotic, “Reproductive Rights and the State in Serbia and Croatia”, in Social Science & Medicine, 54 (4), 2002, pp. 625-642. Bracewell calls him a “demographer”, but I’d be very surprised if it’s a different person.

(3) According to the website, this was published in Intime, p. 44 and Politika Ekspres, 28 September, 1994, p. 14.