Jenny is a college-aged woman. She's ready to look for a job that will allow her to save up some money so that she and her boyfriend can marry and start a family. She looks forward to being a stay-at-home mom at that point. She's a Catholic, and she lives in a small town. Her sister just had a baby, and her close friend became pregnant as well and placed the child for adoption. She's a very stable, good-head-on-her-shoulders kind of woman. This pregnancy is early, unplanned, but not necessarily unwanted.
She makes comments like "I don't want to be ridiculed like my friend was," "Pregnancies outside of marriage are bad, and I'm ashamed everyone will know," and about abortion: "I've been told to believe it as a murder, but it's the easiest way out." In responding to her, I let her know how hypocritical it is for the church (Catholic or Protestant) to teach that abortion is murder and then shun women who decide not to have one. I think she understood that point, but that doesn't make what she has to deal with any easier.
I found an article that touches on this. The article, called "The Catholic Abortion Paradox" deals more specifically with the fact that Catholic women are more likely to have abortions than Protestant women and, in fact, do so at a rate equal to the general population.
According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive health data, non-Hispanic Catholic women of childbearing age are 29% more likely than their Protestant counterparts to have abortions. The rate is even higher--33%--if Hispanics are factored in. Another way of looking at it: while Protestant women make up about 54% of the population, they account for only 37% of the abortions. Catholic women make up 31% of the population and account for 31% of the abortions.That's a pretty eye-opening statistic.
The one explanation for which there is at least some anecdotal evidence is that Catholic women appear to experience more feelings of guilt around sex, and more shame about pregnancy outside of marriage.That was certainly the case with the woman I was working with. All of her concerns had to do with what those in her church would think. While this study might be about Catholics and abortion, I believe that the same problem lies within the Protestant church too. It's a shame that we are teaching those in our church to care more about not disappointing other church members rather than caring more about their souls, isn't it?
There are crisis pregnancy centers in almost every sizeable [sic] town, where women can get help throughout the pregnancy and in the adoption process. But relatively few women make that choice. Perhaps it is because they are not aware of the services. Perhaps it's because when they first find out about an unplanned pregnancy, their initial impulse is to erase it entirely with an abortion.I think it's the latter. Abortion makes it so easy (in a difficult way) to erase the situation. Women then often realize that it creates an entirely different situation - one that is not as easy to erase. If I had a dime for every time a woman told me she's planning for an abortion not 2 days after her positive pregnancy test, I'd be rich. I encourage my clients to wait at least a couple of weeks before doing anything. It takes time for things to sink in, for thoughts to be thought through, and for answers to be found out.
Worried about disappointing her mother and making her father angry, she turned to her boyfriend’s mother, who in turn helped her find the abortion clinic. "I feel bad about it because it is a life, and the one thing I was scared of coming here today was that my mother would be outside carrying one of those signs, you know--'Abortion kills babies.'"This problem has been blogged about before, and it definitely does exist. Parents who are actively involved in pro-life activism make pretty unapproachable subjects when it comes to pregnancy. It's a delicate balance that I hope and pray that I will have with my daughter as she gets older. I don't want her to turn to her boyfriend's mother.
The one point I find confusing throughout the article is that they seem to blame the increased abortion rate on reduced access to contraception. I don't doubt this is true, but I think we need to delve a little deeper than the surface. The problem lies in the fact that our children aren't believing what we tell them about sex before marriage, abortion, and self-respect.
Kearney recalls counseling a 17-year-old who was pregnant for a second time. The young woman told her that in her first pregnancy, she went to a priest who told her abortion was an unacceptable sin and that she should carry the child to term. She did, but a few months later during Mass the priest "went off on a tirade about teen pregnancy," Kearney says. The young woman "felt this deep sense of betrayal," she adds, and decided to terminate her second pregnancy.So, what can we do about this message? I don't have the answers, and I'm hoping that we can all share to come up with answers that will work as we assist our friends, family members, and especially our kids. It's clear to me that we need to develop our foundation before an unplanned pregnancy occurs. Teach our kids that sex before marriage is wrong, but an abortion doesn't make it right again. Teach them that they don't need to have an abortion to avoid embarrassment within the church. The main focus should be to show them how helping pregnant women remain pregnant makes you feel good and does the work of Christ. That way, should she become pregnant, she'll know you won't ostracize her or judge her. Preach the Gospel, and when necessary, use words. Teach them that children are a blessing that can be brought out of a bad decision, but abortion is a bad decision brought out of another bad decision. (Two wrongs don't make a right to the extreme in this case.) What are some other ways that we can share this message with our kids?
It's a delicate balance, especially with our kids. In my church, when given the opportunity to put fliers with the phone number to the local pregnancy center inside the bathrooms in our student building, they replied, "Maybe we can arrange it for the main bathroom where the "other" kids go, but we don't need those in the bathrooms where our kids go." Suuure you don't. Ignorance can be bliss - but only for awhile.
A new study was released last week about depression after an unwanted first pregnancy (PDF file). This has everyone in an uproar. The study found that abortion carries a lower risk of depression than does parenting an unwanted first child. This gives the pro-choice camp something to hold over our heads. It also puts the pro-life camp on the defensive. How many of you read the news and thought, "There must be an error! We have to show that women are horribly depressed after their abortions!" Deep breath everyone. In......out..... There. Let's take a closer look at this study.
I must preface this by saying that I am not a statistician. I do not have a Ph.D. I welcome any constructive criticism and look forward to learning more from any of you. I'm sure that many of the things I have issues with are also used in the Reardon & Cougle study that showed a depression risk following abortion. I'm willing to accept that, and I also believe that, on either side of the fence, researchers are going to be more prone to discovering and reporting the things that further their opinion. How else can you explain such different results based on the same original study?
Basically, in 1979, men and women between the ages of 14 and 24 were selected for a study by the US Department of Labor (called the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979). These men and women were asked about various aspects of their lives on an annual basis. However, questions that had to do with fertility occurred in 1983, 1984, and then every other year from then on. First pregnancies ranged in occurrence from 1970 to 1992.
For this study, selected information was pulled from the regular, yearly data: Women were sectioned off from male respondents. Then, those who were categorized as having depression were further selected. Out of that group, they further narrowed it down to women who had experienced an unwanted first pregnancy that ended in a live delivery or abortion. The race and the age at first pregnancy were measured. In 1992, measures for education, income, and marital status were gauged. Likewise, the Center for Epidemiological Studies depression scale (CES-D) was used in 1992 as a means to gauge depression. (PDF file)
There are some flaws in this study. But more than that, there are reasonable explanations to the results that are not taken into consideration.
First off, realize that this study concerns only the first pregnancy. We all know that each pregnancy/abortion/birth is an event all to itself, and any of these events has the potential to spin off in a variety of directions. A first pregnancy that results in parenting could be a happy event, but a subsequent abortion could cause problems. Likewise, an initial abortion could cause no problems while a second abortion does.
Another problem I have with this study is what I call the "snapshot" issue. The test that they used to determine depression can be found here. (PDF file) It consists of 20 questions that reflect on the past week. Only the test results from 1992 were used for the purposes of this study. Therefore, women who aborted or gave birth in 1970 through 1992 were only questioned about depression in 1992. That's a pretty large time span. The US Dept. of Labor was not looking to pinpoint depression as it relates to abortion/parenting, but rather they were looking at a multitude of factors, one of which was a general inquiry of, "How many of these respondents are dealing with depression at this point in their lives?"
The authors of this study on depression, however, seem to miss the point when they did not allow for a more fluid response to depression. Not to mention that the CES-D only reflects back on the prior week. Depression can come and go. Depression can occur one year and be gone 1 year, 2 years, or 5 years later (etc.). This is a snapshot of what might have occurred in this small sample of women who did not want their first pregnancies. Asking these women to look back at one week in 1992 and broadening that to encompass the entire unwanted pregnancy situation that could have occurred up to 22 years ago is a bit misguided and shows a misunderstanding of post-abortion stress syndrome.
Another issue I have is how depression is linked to socioeconomic status. The mindset that says if you don't have money you must be depressed is upsetting. While it is true that a person's socioeconomic status can relate to depression and overall outlook on life, in this case, using this as a predictor for depression is not accurate. Of course women who do not parent their first pregnancy are going to have more opportunity to continue their education, pursue career goals, put off childbearing, and climb the ladder of socioeconomic success. That does not mean they are happy, however. On the other hand, women that do parent are presented with less time and opportunity to continue with their education or pursue a career. Again, this does not mean that they are depressed. These things are easily explained by time and opportunity, and I do not think that either one clearly establishes a path to depression or happiness.
Lastly, many post-abortive women simply do not struggle with clinical depression. They have feelings of loss, regret, guilt, etc, but for many of them, this does not steer them toward full-blown depression, and even for the ones that do slip into depression, they often don't stay there for years and years.
With all this being said, the numbers still remain very close - 28.6% of women who gave birth were depressed compared to 24.8% of women who had an abortion. Looking at it another way, out of 1247 women who either aborted (479 of them) or gave birth (768 of them) to a first unwanted pregnancy, 119 women who aborted were depressed, and 220 women who parented were depressed during that one week in 1992 and possibly longer.
What does this tell us? What can we learn from all of this information if we take the results of this study at face value and assume that all things are equal? I think that it shows that when women are faced with sadness after their abortion, they are able to find counseling, healing, and support. I do not think that it finds that feelings of regret and guilt (or depression) occur less often in women who abort compared with women who parent because I do not feel that this was adequately assessed.
However, it does show that we need to double our efforts to reach out to women who decide to give birth to that "unwanted" child. We're reaching those who have had an abortion, but we need to focus just as much on the woman that was into the pregnancy center a year ago, had her baby, and now has no support. Regrettably, quite often when she has made up her mind we are too quick to send her merrily on her way to a life of bliss. I think we need to be sure that she has ongoing support - if not through us then through other local agencies, churches, or support groups. I'll agree with the last sentence in the study, "...if the goal is to reduce women's risk for depression, research should focus on how to prevent and ameliorate the effect of unwanted childbearing, particularly for younger women."
This story talks about a typical pro-life protest.
Nicole Clement, who is 38 weeks pregnant, used a lawn chair to help her make it through the hour as she held her sign. “Pregnancy shows how beautiful the gift of life is,” she said. “As someone who has had a child and is about to have another, I cannot understand the decision to abort.” (Emphasis mine.)
This misses the mark. I suppose that people who are just out to protest abortion really don't need to understand the in-depth reasoning involved when you do outreach to pregnant women, but then again, education needs to take place across the board regarding why women have abortions as well as why it is an understandable (although wrong) decision most of the time.
It's a slight shift of words - "I cannot understand the decision to abort" needs to be changed to "I cannot agree with the decision to abort," but at the same time, it's a major shift in thought. It goes from pitting "us" against "them" to allowing "us" to reach out a helping hand to "them." Because once you begin to understand the reasons why a woman might decide to abort, you get a little closer to being able to help. Women allow you to get a little closer to them when you don't start out the conversation by saying "I don't understand you and I never will" before even finding out what her situation really is.
It certainly does sound like a lot of work, and it sounds like it might even be confusing. But the apostle Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-24:
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized--whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ--but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it! You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win.
What an important message! And it can be applied to the way we reach out to women who are considering abortion. Let's look at the broader lesson first.
First, we need to understand that we live with absolutes. There is a right, and there is a wrong. (I know that many of you don't believe that, but many do.) For instance, as Christians, we are taught that sex is only to occur between husband and wife. Period. No homosexual sex. No premarital sex. We're also taught that we cannot worship idols. Period. No kneeling down and praying to anyone else besides God. No elevating our prosperity above our faith in God. These are commands that God has given us for proper living, so that things may go well for us.
At the same time, we are allowed to have some freedom within these absolutes. (This is not to be confused with the free will that allows us to break even the absolutes.) The Bible does not instruct us on what to do in every situation that confronts us, although that sure would be nice at times! So when we are faced with a situation that there is no absolute for, we need to apply God's word, pray, and act in freedom. For instance, while we are not to "get drunk on wine," we have the freedom to drink alcohol. Some of us can choose to do that, while others will choose not to. Neither is wrong in this case.
In Paul's day, there was a bitter argument regarding whether or not it was right for Christians to eat the meat that was sacrificed to idols. While they could not worship the idols, Paul taught that they were free to eat the meat if they did not feel convicted to do otherwise and as long as doing so would not create a problem with others, especially the newer brothers and sisters. This means that we cannot just do whatever pleases us - as Christians, we need to always be looking out for the betterment of others. Paul discusses this in 1 Corinthians 8 and the first part of 1 Corinthians 9, and then he moves into the aforementioned verses. In these verses, Paul suggests that we make adjustments....that we adapt to circumstances.
How do we handle this freedom then? Paul does not mean that we can make adjustments to the moral absolutes. He clearly takes note of this by reminding us that he is not under the law or without the law. Compromise on these issues would not only be disrespecting God, but it would also be disrespectful to others, because it would teach them the opposite of what they are supposed to be doing according to God. Rather than making adjustments to the absolutes, Paul is suggesting that we make adjustments based on the culture and attitudes of the people we are with. We need to assimilate into secular culture as much as possible without jeopardizing our moral abolutes in order to reach the most people.
How come this is so important? After all, it's easier to do what feels natural and right to me as a Christian. Why would I want to step out of my comfort zone? Cultural issues are often very important to women and men who do not know Jesus. It's often all they have! From the places they go to the things they value, they often make their own moral compass, and this compass can change from time to time. Those who are without God are going to be able to hear your message of His love if you are able to relate to them somehow.
Think of a typical CEO trying to tell a criminal about God's love. How about vice versa? There would be a barrier there, wouldn't there? If the cultures are the same, chances are that the message will not be rejected just because of the messenger. Taking away the "noise" of various differences makes the message easily heard and understood. It keeps Christianity from becoming something that only Christians understand and opens it up to the rest of the world (which is what God wants.)
How does this apply to pregnancy outreach? Our culture tells people to look out for #1. It's a "me first" society. You're going to be dealing with a culture of selfishness. I believe that Paul's admonishment to act selflessly by becoming like "those not having the law" applies to us. He makes the point that he does not take on their way of life. He knows he belongs to Christ, and he acts accordingly. At the same time, he realizes that the people he works with do not have the law. (He didn't tell non-Christians that they could not eat meat that was sacrificed to idols, for instance.) He doesn't expect them to act the way that he does, and the way he befriends them is to think along the same lines that his society thought while still remaining true to Christ.
By thinking along the same lines as our me-first society, we'll be in a better place to approach women who are considering abortion. By not holding them up to our "law," we'll be able to approach them in a nonjudgmental way. I think if Paul were alive today, he would approach women not as a Christian and not as a pro-lifer. I think he would put himself into our society instead of standing outside of it, try to see things from the woman's point of view, and make his case against her abortion in that way.
Everyone runs. As pro-lifers, we're in a race to save the lives of the unborn and to help women to heal and be healthy. Run to win.
Let me say, first of all, that I appreciate so very much what you are doing to save the lives of unborn children. What a noble thing that is. Though I have great sympathy for what you are doing, I find it impossible as a Christian to divorce moral issues from the matter of God's existence and law. If the Creator of life is not brought into the equation, there is no logical way to really argue the case for the sanctity of life. No moral question can be argued effectively without appealing to God, for if there is no God, nothing is wrong. Man becomes his own lawmaker and whatever he chooses to do is right. One cannot argue, for example, that murder is wrong because it hurts the economy (or some other practical reason). There is a much more fundamental issue at stake.
Let me give you an example. There is a popular movement today called the "intelligent design" movement. The advocates of this view contend, and very effectively, that the universe cannot be the result of random chance. It is too intricately put together; it evidences "design." These men, however, are very careful never to mention "God" -on account of the prejudicial flag that such might raise. As noble as their motives doubtless are, there are seriously mistaken.
Paul, in his epistle to the Roman Christians, argued that when we do not give honor to God, as "God," we seriously err. Read Romans 1:21 especially. Perhaps you can give this matter some consideration.
So, what do you all think? Is this just someone who doesn't understand the approach? Or is this person on to something? I'm interested in hearing your opinions.
Update - Here's the response I got back today:
Thank you for your note. You make some good points. I certainly don't have the "knowledge market" cornered relative to a complex subject of this nature. I appreciate what you are doing and pray that you continue to have success in saving the lives of precious babies.
I came across some quotes from Mother Teresa, and I thought that a lot of them were incredibly poignant. Many of them can be used in the line of work that we do - ministering to abortion-vulnerable, abortion-minded, and post-abortive women. Enjoy these, and choose a favorite to reflect on for awhile. It'll do your heart good.
- Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.
- Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart.
- I pray that you will understand the words of Jesus, "Love one another as I have loved you." Ask yourself "How has he loved me? Do I really love others in the same way?" Unless this love is among us, we can kill ourselves with work and it will only be work, not love. Work without love is slavery.
- When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.
- You who have received so much love, share it with others. Love others the way that God has loved you, with tenderness.
- Love does not measure; it just gives.
- Any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants.
- Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.
- Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
- The success of love is in the loving - it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.
- There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in - that we do it to God, to Christ, and that's why we try to do it as beautifully as possible.
- There should be less talk; a preaching point is not a meeting point. What do you do then? Take a broom and clean someone's house. That says enough.
- We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.
- We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much for so long with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.
- Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.
"He knows that I love him, and I know that he loves me. I just can't understand why if he loves me that he would put me through this when he knows how much it would effect me...I don't want to see him in pain. He said if I had the abortion we could go back to the way things were before, but if I kept the child, he wouldn't feel that he could trust me and didn't know if he would want to continue a relationship with me."
"I need their support to do this. So I need them."
The people who make up a pregnant woman's circle of support have much of the control over her decision to abort. I know that's not particularly PC to say, but it's the truth. Sure, it's the woman who ultimately chooses to have the abortion, but that is only after everyone whom she loves has failed her. How dare these people fail her when she needs their support and love the most? These women are driven to abort because of isolation, manipulation, (...he wouldn't feel that he could trust me and didn't know if he would want to continue a relationship with me), a low self-esteem, a desire to please, and the belief in a lie.
The biggest deception lies in the belief that things will be okay once the abortion is over. If a woman aborts for lack of support, she's still going to feel that lack of support after the abortion. That isn't going to go away. The pain that comes from that is going to magnified by the emptiness that was created by the abortion - the knowledge that she wasn't strong enough to stand up for herself.
The best that we can do in this situation is to try to take the place of the people who are pressuring her. Often, this isn't enough though. When you're facing rejection from your parents, your husband or boyfriend, and your close friends (who think you should do what your significant other wants), it would be hard to turn to strangers for the support you should be getting from your loved ones. Therefore, our outreach needs to extend to the her circle of support. We need to help them stand up for themselves by giving them the words to use to convey that their feelings are completely valid. We should also try to open up the discussion to those who are involved in the woman's circle of support. They need to be held accountable for their lack of support before the abortion occurs and given the reasons why abortion is wrong for their loved one.
I believe I know more people who have been sexually active, who have been pregnant, who have had abortions, or kept their babies, or chosen adoption than my mother or my mother's friends did. I have witnessed the effects of the abortion revolution her generation brought about, and I say it has not solved anything. Abortion on demand has not made men respect women more, it has not made it easier for women to refuse unwanted sexual advances, it has not reduced the consequences of early sexual activity and pregnancy, it has not healed the emotional wounds of rape and incest victims....it has not given women the freedom to be men. We just aren't designed like that. We're designed to love and create, not destroy.
She hit the nail on the head here. Abortion does not make things better. It doesn't solve the root of the problem. Poverty, gender equality, rape, etc - these things are not solved or soothed by abortion. They are glossed over, and problems that already exist are often made worse in the case of the woman that regrets her abortion and begins to despair.
I believe abortion hurts the very women it was supposed to heal.Yes, this goes without saying in my book, but at the same time, it needs to be said again and again.
I believe abortion gives men the freedom to be irresponsible.
It sure does. I have worked with so many women who tell their significant others that they are pregnant only to discover that the men aren't respectful, responsible, or even kind. Abortion has required men to be hostile. (Not all men - I know.) Men now know that if they just dig their heels in and demand that something be done, women will often give in out of hopelessness. What kind of advancement it that?
I believe abortion gives society an excuse to ignore and spurn young mothers.
Amen to that. Women are expected these days that if they are not financially secure and they are young, they need to have an abortion. The reaction to the story about the teens in Ohio where 13% of the girls at the local high school are pregnant has been interesting to watch. Everyone is no doubt wondering why they didn't just have abortions. Or maybe there are many more who did make the choice to abort, and the pregnant ones are the women that couldn't make that choice. It becomes expected - even demanded at times - that young women have an abortion, and if they don't, they are spurned, questioned, and made to feel uncaring.
I believe that motherhood is not the end of life, but its beginning.
I try to get this point across to women young and old(er). Unfortunately, our society does teach women that motherhood means all work and absolutely no fun. It also teaches that it's okay to put your needs before the needs of your child (not to mention that it teaches that your child isn't really your child if it isn't born yet). It's also hard to convey that the small moments are so joyous and unimaginable - the gummy smiles, looking deep into your child's eyes, teaching your child new things - small things, like what a flower bud looks like and will become, what noises a cricket makes, that gophers make the holes in the backyard - those happen every day. Those things are priceless. It is the beginning of a whole new life, and sometimes that life can be hard, but it is well worth it. Abortion doesn't allow women to feel those emotions. What a sad thing.
I believe in choice: I believe no woman should be raped, forced or coerced into sexual relations. I believe that a woman who partakes in consensual sex has already made a choice - she is choosing by her actions to accept the possible consequence of a child. After all, that is what sex is designed to do.
Abortion does make it easier for personal responsibility to go out the window (in the case of consensual sex). Sex was designed for husband and wife to enjoy eachother and to procreate. There are ways to avoid procreation naturally. (God doesn't just want it to be all about procreation obviously.) Taking sex out of the context of marriage creates a wealth of problems - one of which is abortion. Marital sex can result in an unplanned pregnancy, but this is less common, and women in a marriage do not need to deal with the weight of a stigma.
I believe that many women who choose abortion do so out of a feeling of desperation. These women need to know that we will not let them down. They need help to have their babies. They need healing after abortion. They need love.
I believe that a mature, loving sexual relationship ought always to have room for a child. Any man not worth taking that chance with is not worth your time and is certainly not worth giving the precious gift of your sexuality to.
This would be a good guideline to follow. Every sexual relationship needs to be loving enough to accept the responsibility for the life of a child, and this is why sex should wait for the stability, maturity, and love that comes from marriage. It makes it easier and more healthy for women in the long run.
Coline's mother, Rhoda Jenkins, who is Stanton's great-granddaughter, is quoted as saying:
"If you can't control your reproduction, you can't get a job and get enough money to be independent," she told me. "Now that reproduction is controlled, you can invest in an education and use it. At the present time there are more women in universities than men. During the time of my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in the early 1800s, the doors of universities were closed to women.
"A general belief was that the study of Greek and mathematics would render a female sterile. Education was dangerous; females were in constant danger of losing 'femininity.' Well, as a teenager, my great-grandma studied Greek, won the school prize, a Greek lexicon, and went on to birth seven kids.
"Obviously, if she had seven children, she wasn't practicing birth control. At the time many women didn't understand the mechanics well enough, other than abstinence. Large families were all the fashion, to populate the United States that was fairly empty at the time.
"Planned Parenthood is absolutely necessary. I support it very highly."
I find it difficult to understand why it is that Planned Parenthood equates the right to vote with the right to abort. Why is it that Planned Parenthood is celebrating Women's Equality Day? The right to vote was a great victory for women's rights - there's no doubt about that, but how is that right somehow linked with the right to abort? Why, on Women's Equality Day, would we want to view this as an abortion rights issue?
Of course, the answer is that Planned Parenthood wants us to view abortion rights as tied to women's rights. The right to abort is not the same as the right to vote. It does not make us equal. How many men do you know that have had to have an abortion? How many men have had to sacrifice their children in the pursuit of education, career, or the happiness of others. As Rhoda Jenkins put it, "If you can't control your reproduction, you can't get a job and get enough money to be independent...Now that reproduction is controlled, you can invest in an education and use it." Is that what it boils down to? We need to have abortion on demand available so that women can be successful?
Anyone can control reproduction without having an abortion by knowing the fertility cycle and abstaining on days that sex is likely to result in pregnancy. Not to mention, I know women who were able to go to school, get a job, and make enough money to be successful while they raised children. Stanton herself was able to become educated while she birthed 7 children, and she did it without having to resort to having an abortion.
- Stanton is quoted as classifying abortion as a form of "infanticide." The Revolution, 1(5):1, February 5, 1868
- She also is known for stating: ""When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit" Letter to Julia Ward Howe, October 16, 1873, recorded in Howe's diary at Harvard University Library
- Concerning abortion she stated, "There must be a remedy even for such a crying evil as this. But where shall it be found, at least where begin, if not in the complete enfranchisement and elevation of women?" The Revolution, 1(10):146-7 March 12, 1868
Their tone seems to be one of, "Yes, we know no one really wants to see these pictures, but we have to show them so that people will know the truth about abortion." I recall an interview where someone affiliated with CBR mentioned that any pro-lifer who did not approve of their campaign could not truly be pro-life. Well, I for one am about as pro-life as one can get, and I don't think I could disapprove of their campaign more if someone paid me to do it. Let me tell you why.
1. Children. These pictures are enough to shock an adult. For those of you with kids, can you imagine your little one seeing this image pass next to them while you are driving down the highway? Would he or she ask you about it? Would they file that image away without talking to you about it? What would you tell your 3-year-old if he or she did ask what it was? As a mother, I do not want my child to learn about abortion this way. CBR makes the claim that "the same risks to children exist every time the television is turned on. Sickening images are likely to appear, even during early prime time." I don't know what kind of sick channel they are watching, but I can assure you that bloody, mangled babies do not flash by the TV screen when my child is watching. I am able to control the images my child sees on TV, but to avoid these trucks when they are in town, I would need to stay inside. That is not feasible for mothers and fathers with children.
2. Post-abortive women who are happy with having had an abortion. Most likely, it will not cause the women who aren't regretting their abortion to see the light. Most likely, it will seem to a woman as if we are on the lunatic fringe since she had an abortion, and it wasn't that bad. This will further solidify for her that pro-lifers are not on her side. Another brick is put onto her wall of denial, and should she ever become repentant, she may not venture toward the pro-life camp because she will think that she cannot identify with them and that we would not want to identify with her. She links all of us together as having the same judgmental attitude.
3. Post-abortive women who have regret. This could do a couple of things to someone who regrets her abortion. (1) It could bring her to her knees in tears for her baby, especially if she has not accepted forgiveness. (2) It could also drive her away from the pro-life people who want to help her because she will think, "I can't go to them for help - look what they think I did!" The message of a bloody picture does not comfort and reach out to these women!
4. Pregnant women. This is where CBR is trying to have the biggest effect. They want pregnant women to shriek in horror and run away from the abortion clinic as fast as they can. This might happen in some cases. These cases are few and far between though. Most women who are contemplating abortion are going to wonder if those pictures are exaggerated. And who are they going to ask? The abortion clinic workers. And what are they going to say? "Of course they are exaggerated dear. Now come on in and lie down on this table."
When a woman is contemplating abortion, for the most part, pro-lifers are the enemy. We want to take her choice away. We want to tell her abortion is a sin. Do you ever notice women walking toward the protesters outside of the abortion clinic? No. What do they do? They run past the protesters straight into the clinic, because they don't want to feel the sting of judgment. They're trying to run away from the thought of the baby they are carrying. They aren't going to look up and think, "This is what abortion will do to my baby...I can't do it." They are going to look down and run toward the abortion clinic, right into the arms of the ones who "care."
I'm a firm believer in that whatever method we use to help women choose to give birth, it should not hurt. They should not be wary of us or our intent. They should be 100% sure that we have their best interests at heart. I do not see the "truth trucks" in line with this method. I do not see a gentle, compassionate, Christ-like attitude in the truth trucks, and when I think, "What would Jesus do?" I cannot see him driving a truck. Can you?
A much better way of doing this is to invest the time and effort (think of the gasoline costs!) into promoting a way to reach women in a gentler way. Outreach programs into colleges for instance - instead of the upsetting Genocide Awareness Project that CBR puts on. You want to drive trucks around all day? Put some pictures of prenatal development on the sides, although I still don't really think this approach will win many over. Buy some air time on radio stations and TV channels that talk about local pregnancy centers. The point is to do something that isn't so antagonistic. Nobody wins by putting people on edge.
- Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true. (Ps 119:142)
- Yet you are near, O LORD, and all your commands are true. (Ps 119:151)
- All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal. (Ps 119:160)
- Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. (John 14:6)
- Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17)
Sometimes that initial "good" moment is enticing enough for a woman to have an abortion. Let's look at some common reasons why a woman might feel this way.
1. Pressure is gone. Have you ever been nagged by someone to do something you really don't want to do? Then you probably understand the frustration women feel when they are being subtly or blatantly pressured. You can probably relate to the feeling of "I'll just go and do it so they will leave me alone!" Can you picture the woman who has a significant other who has told her in no uncertain terms that she cannot have this baby if she wants him. A woman who has a mother who is telling her she just can't raise a child. She also has a school counselor telling her that a baby would be too hard to fit in right now or a boss who sends her subtle undertones that lead her to believe that she cannot advance with a child in tow. If she has children currently, every time she looks at those little faces, she feels she cannot give time to another child or her living children will go without, and the pressure piles higher. Friends give their $0.02, and while sometimes she will come across a friend who will tell her that she can do it, quite often the friend has a laissez-faire attitude about the whole thing.
You can see, in the face of pressure from one person or several others, how a woman might just throw her hands in the air and give in, can't you? If no one is supporting her, or if no one in whom she needs the support of is supporting her, 8 or 9 times out of 10 she is going to have an abortion if she does not find enough support out of her immediate circle. Some women don't even seek out support from other areas. Other women try but are brushed off by a condemning attitude or all talk but no action - no real help. Other women are embraced. They find support from other family members, those helpful friends, and supportive organizations that encourage her to do what she knows is the right thing. These pillars of support balance out the unsupportive atmosphere that she is facing at home.
Where do we fit in? Obviously we need to make sure that we are not condemning, not unhelpful and make sure that we are offering real help and support to women. We also need to be able to give women the reason why others are so unsupportive while, at the same time, sharing with her that her feelings are every bit as valuable as everyone else's - if not more so. We need to build a culture that supports women in unplanned, ill-timed pregnancies. I don't think we can have a "culture of life" until that is done.
2. No more financial concerns. If you've had a child, you know that one of the biggest worries is "Where is the money going to come from?" Eventually, the sticker shock wears off as you realize that it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, but unfortunately, abortion has made it possible for women to never reach that point. If you're a college student who finds yourself pregnant and you're facing zero support by way of your significant other, panic is going to set in. You can't live in a dorm with a baby. Where are you going to live? You can't go to school full time because you need to work, and if you don't go to school full time, the scholarship money is going to go out the window. What are you going to do? How are you going to finish school? You don't have any health insurance. How are you going to get some while working part time and going to school?
One by one, the fears start to build up until you, again, throw your hands up in frustration and make an appointment for an abortion. There aren't easy answers to these questions that are readily available. Why is that? Why isn't there a plan for college students (or other women in other situations) that supports a woman through this time? All it takes is one person to come alongside this panic-stricken woman and show her answers:
- You are going to file for child support.
- You are going to live here.
- You are going to work here.
- Here is a plan for finishing school.
- You are going to apply for daycare assistance.
- You are going to apply for Medicaid.
- I know these things are scary and a major change, but I am here, and I will not leave you to do this alone.
Obviously, we need to be the ones making those statements. We need to be bending over backwards, falling over ourselves to provide women with real help. I think we also should be looking into the areas of getting easy assistance available to college students and women in other general situations. What if instead of looking to abortion, women knew of a program that started the ball rolling for them looking into child support, a place to live, work, finish school, etc? Michigan has started such a plan in college campuses.
3. Goals are realigned. When you have been coasting through life with no major hiccups, an unplanned pregnancy can send you into a tailspin. Other children's lives will be thrown off to accommodate the new baby. Budgets will have to be reconfigured. School/work will need to be readjusted. You might need a bigger car, a bigger house. That vacation might need to be cancelled. It isn't only the finances that can cause panic but the general chaos of life with a new baby.
There is no doubt that a baby changes everything. I think our role is to show that it doesn't change things for the worse. Take some of the burden off women by helping them come up with a plan for their concerns. The Nurturing Network, for instance, is a great organization that does just that. Help her get involved with a local mother's group or church that will help her with various day-to-day activities and emotional support. Help her find a good deal on a car. The bottom line is show her you care. Don't be all talk, no action. Along the same lines, don't withdraw your support once she has decided to keep the baby. She needs your support for as long as she needs it - whether that's days or years.
I have two "asides" for you.
We often hear that supposedly there are very few women who are being pressured and very few who abort for lack of finances. Reading pro-choice blogs and websites, you might walk away believing that women choose abortion because it makes them feel empowered. However, nothing could be further from the truth. I have never worked with a woman that aborted simply because she wanted to. I'm willing to believe that that is due to the nature of the work I am in - if women don't feel they need help, they aren't going to look. What I am saying to you is that we need to assume that no woman is happy about aborting.
There is also the contingent of women who are not sorry. This often presents a problem for us as pro-lifers. Don't let it. First, it should be understood that women who have no understanding (no faith, no medical knowledge, and no moral compass, etc) will feel no need to repent until those things change. Sometimes converting to a certain faith will bring regret. Sometimes seeing pictures of prenatal development or carrying a subsequent pregnancy to term will do it. Other times, it's just a natural feeling of "I went against my maternal instincts." This can take weeks, months, years, decades. And sometimes it never happens. When this happens, it is because either no growth was made (no faith was started, no education was done, etc) or there has been a large wall of denial built, and nothing can pierce through. Sometimes women talk so much about how good abortion is, that they leave no room for a change of heart. They become calloused. This is very sad to watch, but this is not an unusual occurrence in any situation. Our response is to be there to love them no matter what they say. That is incredibly hard to do. I know. But that is what our Heavenly Father does, and we are here to be Christ-like - to be about our Father's business. (Luke 2:49)
Feminists for Life is where the policy meets the pavement, Foster told Christianity Today. By addressing the forces that push women toward abortion, Feminists for Life tries to make abortion "unthinkable," not just illegal. Whether lack of support from a father, the need to work full-time, or a lack of resources on a college campus to care for a child, their feminist concern for the vulnerable motivates their concern for both the baby and the woman.
Their emphasis on eliminating the reasons why women choose abortion has influenced the whole movement. "If you focus only on trying to convince people that the unborn child is a human being, then you may not get as far as you would like," says Ruse. "There is a broader drama going on." Many young people, Ruse says, choose abortion because they don't have the resources or support to care for a child and because society views abortion as an acceptable alternative to an unplanned pregnancy.
I encourage you to visit Feminists for Life's website and read through their information. FFL truly embraces a pro-woman point of view.
There are 2 kinds of forgiveness: the kind God gives us and the kind we give to one another.
"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." Matthew 6:12
In the ultimate sense, it is only God that can pardon sin. So our responsibility is more of a proper attitude, since we are Christ's ambassadors here on earth. This means that we cannot repay evil for evil. (Romans 12:17) We cannot hate the sinner. Instead, we need to show agape love toward the sinner. (More on agape love later if this is a new term for you.) We need to "be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32) We need to leave the door open for the sinner and long for them to drop in.
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13
The best way to grow this kind of attitude is to remember a few things: (1) Remember the value of each and every human soul. We cannot be selective with whom we forgive and show kindness to. (2) Don't be selective in the sins that you think are forgivable. God lumps in the sin of murder with envy, strife, deceit, and malice. (Romans 1:29) (3) Along the same lines, remember that we ourselves have grieved God: Remember "...to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another." (Titus 3:2-3) Last but not least (4) remember to be forgiving because it creates peace within yourself. Living with a bitter, unforgiving attitude will bring you down and create unnecessary stress. God doesn't want that for you!
So how should we act toward the post-abortive woman then? We need something called agape love. Agape love is defined as divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, volitional, thoughtful love. Agape love is more of a principal that we live out than an emotion that we feel in our hearts. The best description of agape love is found in 1 Corinthians 13, where Paul talks about the character of love. Let's look step by step:
1. Love is patient. In other words, love waits. It doesn't expect quick changes of heart in another person. When a woman has an abortion, usually there is no quick repentance. There can be, but usually the feeling of sadness and regret takes awhile to seep in. Sometimes days. Sometimes weeks. Sometimes years. Sometimes decades! God tells us what we should be doing during that time. We should be waiting for that person to realize what has happened. Not so that we can say, "It's about time!" or because we are waiting to feel superior to them, but rather, God wants us to wait so that when that woman realizes what abortion did to her, to her baby, and to God, she has a refuge in you...someone who can tell her of the forgiveness of God and extend hope to her. This isn't about us. This is about being a tool that God can use to shine his love on post-abortive women.
2. Love is kind. Proverbs 19:22 says "What is desirable in a man is his kindness..." Kindness is what is desired in you and I. Not frustration. Not a superiority complex. Just kindness. Seems too easy doesn't it? The truth is, being kind in the face of wrongdoing is the hardest thing to accomplish. Who wants to turn the other cheek? But to be desirable - someone that God can use in the life of a post-abortive woman - we need to be kind when no one else is. Luke 6:35 says, "...for [God] Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men." What could be more Christ-like?
3. Love does not envy. I don't think any one of us envies the post-abortive woman. What we might envy is how some seemingly get through it so easily. Jealousy is the resentful desire for another's advantages. We might be jealous of the peace, prosperity, and relief that many post-abortive women experience. God tells us not to feel envy, however. I think He would desire us to, instead, pray that these women will be guided gently out of denial so they can experience healing.
4. Love does not boast. Agape love is selfless. It does not want others to feel second-best, and instead, it seeks to be uplifting and encouraging toward others. Be there with a kind, humble word to any post-abortive woman you deal with.
5. Love is not proud. Being proud generally means that you have a superior manner toward an inferior. This can consist of a demeaning attitude. One of, "I'm better than you." Remember that we have all grieved God at one point. We don't have the right to wag our fingers at anyone.
6. Love is not rude. It does not deliberately seek to offend others. We should not hold any contempt toward the post-abortive woman in our hearts, because if we do, that contempt is going to spew forth. You can't represent God with that attitude.
7. Love is not self-seeking. Self-seeking behavior is defined as exhibiting concern only with promoting one's own ends or interests. Think of others instead, and look for ways to serve. Instead of thinking how much you are upset by abortion, drop that attitude, and put the concern where it belongs!
8. Love is not easily angered. Jackpot! This is the one that can make or break you in the eyes of the post-abortive woman. Do you walk around with a chip on your shoulder? At bad news, do you immediately launch into a tirade? Do you immediately get openly frustrated and disgusted when you discover someone has had an abortion? It's one thing to share the truth bluntly. It's quite another to share the truth with love. I've heard it so many times, "I told her just what a horrible thing she did." "I just can't even bear to talk to her anymore now that I know." If God is not easily angered, who do we think we are?
9. Love keeps no record of wrongs. It does not keep score. Do you make a mental note of all the things that a woman has done surrounding her abortion? How she callously referred to it as a "fetus," how she refused to listen to you, how she didn't want to look at the ultrasound, and how she seems to be perfectly happy now that she is no longer pregnant? That's not what love does. Love says, "While you did do wrong, I'm going to love you anyway, hope for your happiness, and pray for your healing."
10. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. I think we would all agree that we don't have a problem with this one. The only thing I would add here is that not only should we not delight in the evil of abortion, but we also should not delight when a woman suffers from sadness and/or depression from an abortion. We shouldn't have the attitude of "I told you so" or "You're getting what you deserve." We should instead rejoice in the truth that God loves and wants to heal these women.
11. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love offers support, and it does so in a way that does not publicly shame others but rather quietly works to help. Love will give the benefit of the doubt. It does not quickly condemn but rather slowly works to bring about healing. Love believes that the post-abortive woman will be healed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Lastly, love does not easily give up on anyone - no matter how difficult the situation and attitude.
Remember that there is always a bigger picture. As a representative of God and as a pro-life/pro-woman person, you are going to have an impact on post-abortive women that can last for a lifetime. She is always going to remember how the various people in her life treated her after her abortion. Who treated her with contempt for her decision? Who offered unconditional love? Who was indifferent and unhelpful? Don't let Planned Parenthood be her source for love and support. My prayer is that post-abortive women will be able to see us as the ones who offer her love, help, and support - before and after any decision.
See also: The Biblical Concept of Forgiveness and The Challenge of Agape Love.
Also, check out a pro-life perspective on the pro-woman approach here.
I've seen this reaction before to the pro-woman approach, and I take this as proof positive that this approach should be used the majority of the time. How else are you going to get pro-choice and pro-life persons to talk civilly?
1. Should women be prosecuted? Women should not be prosecuted for pursuing or going through with an illegal abortion. Instead, the physicians (nearly 90% of illegal abortions were done by physicians pre-Roe) and the few laymen and laywomen that actually carry out the act of abortion should be the ones that are prosecuted. A law of this sort will discourage many physicians from doing an illegal abortion in the first place. ("It's not worth getting my license revoked!") In addition, women will be more likely to testify against the physicians that do their abortions if they do not have to face a penalty, which is an added benefit. Laypersons that perform an illegal abortion should be prosecuted, but not held to as high a standard as physicians.
2. Why shouldn't women be prosecuted? First and foremost, we need to realize that women, for the most part, aren't happily running off to their abortions. Usually, this is a decision that they put a lot of thought into. They usually have an abortion because of an external pressure in their life. Sometimes this is a partner. Sometimes it is financial constraints. Sometimes it is school or business pressures. It is true that some women just do not want children, and they just don't need to put a lot of thought into it, but I would say that is the exception to the rule, although certainly these are the ones who we commonly hear from. Women have abortions because if they do not, some area in their lives will be troubled, turned upside-down. They have an abortion as an act of desperation to keep things peaceful in their own lives.
Simply put, women should not be prosecuted because it would send the wrong message. It would send the message to women that not only might their life be miserable if they do decide to give birth (which is how they see it), but there's a chance that if they abort, they might be thrown in jail. It sends the message that society does not care about women. Where would she find hope and compassion then? Remember, she isn't going to trust the vast majority of pro-lifers who took her choice away and threaten her with jail time. She's going to seek out that illegal abortion if she can't find a way to make giving birth work for her.
3. What if a woman tries to do her own abortion? Coat-hanger abortions are always the rallying cry amidst the pro-choice movement. More commonly, a woman will try to swallow a mixture of herbs to induce an abortion. Again, this is an act of desperation in most cases, where the woman is doing what she thinks is right. She feels she has no other recourse. If a woman attempts her own abortion, it should be viewed as an attempt to harm herself, much like a suicide attempt. She should be helped. She should be stopped if possible, but she should not be prosecuted.
4. But isn't abortion the murder of a child - why the inconsistency here? First, I don't characterize abortion as murder. (I can hear the gasps.) I don't. Murder, to me, carries some sort of malice with it. Women that have abortions don't do so out of malice. Abortion is a form of killing though. It does end life. To many women, however, they seriously think that it is them or the baby. Therefore, it is compassion that should be given toward the women who are considering abortion (illegal or legal) as well as toward those that have an abortion.
It is the physician - the one that is put in a place of authority to protect and do no harm - that should be culpable. The physician is not in the middle of a stressful situation. They have the insight and the knowledge to be able to say, "No, but here is another way." There is not a lot of precedent for this line of thought, but there are other situations where the pursuer is not held liable for the actual event. Take assisted suicide, for instance. In some states it is illegal to assist someone to attempt suicide, but the person who hires the physician is not charged with a crime. In another instance, alternative therapies that go wrong create a situation where the authority figure (doctor, counselor, whatever) is held responsible, while the client and/or the client's parent are not. Medical malpractice demands that physicians be held responsible in the face of the desires and demands of their patients, no matter how compelling.
This is such a cursory look at this, however. So much is needed before we can honestly expect women to not turn to abortion. If Roe was overturned tomorrow and things remained the same, the illegal abortion rate would be right around the legal rate right now, dropped only because of some physicians who would not risk the punishment. It is society that would need to change in order for women to feel supported and comfortable giving birth instead of aborting - meaning our attitude towards woman in the popular media, our attitude toward pregnancy in the workplace, our attitudes toward the unborn (meaning both we should not discount the fact that the fetus is a developing human but nor should we hold the fetus above the concerns of the woman), and our attitude towards unwed mothers and women who seek abortion.
Support for women - starting now - is paramount. Stop holding the rights of the unborn (who don't have any legally right now) above her concerns, desires, and needs. Start educating women about their fertility cycles and birth control options. (There are only 2-5 days that a woman can get pregnant during her cycle. Why aren't we making that known??) Family planning can and should exist, but it should not involve abortion. Start holding the men accountable when they threaten to leave if a woman wants to parent. Why aren't they shunned the same way single mothers and women who abort are? This isn't going to be an easy thing to do, and this is only the tip of the iceberg, but this is what is necessary to make abortion the option that is just not thought of by the majority of women.
Figures never lie, but liars sure do figure. - Mark Twain
The biggest and most-useful lie that the pro-abortion movement has spread has been the one that says that there are just too many desparate women seeking abortion to be able to do anything but legalize abortion. The problem is too big they say, and we cannot jeapordize the safety of women. After all, no one wants to send masses of women to their death beds. If legalizing the abortions that will occur anyway will help to save the lives of thousands of women every year, then we'd be hard-pressed not to support the law. Right?
Except for this...the numbers are exaggerated to unrecognizability. The most often quoted statistic states that women died at a rate of 5,000 to 10,000 women per year prior to legalization. It was a version of this statistic that rolled off the tongue of our beloved senator from the state of California last week. This statistic was taken from a book in 1936, written by Dr. Frederick Taussig, entitled "Abortion, Spontaneous and Induced." Dr. Taussig was a supporter of abortion rights. However, in 1942, Taussig appologized for using "the wildest estimates" to come to the conclusion he had. Likewise, the founder of NARAL, Bernard Nathanson, is also on record stating: "How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? In NARAL, we generally emphasized the frame of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter it was always '5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year.' I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, and I suppose the others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the 'morality' of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics? The overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, and anything within reason that had to be done was permissible."
The truth is that women pre-Roe did not die at a rate any larger than today's abortion deaths, even taking into consideration the percentages of women who were having abortion then compared to now:
- The number that comes closest to 5,000 took place prior to the emergence of antibiotic use, in 1942, with approximately 1,400 women dying that year from abortion. (JAMA)
- From that point on until legalization, abortion deaths fell from 1,400 to a little over 100. (JAMA)
- The Centers for Disease Control states that in 1972, 39 women died from illegal abortions.
- In 2000, the CDC states that 11 women were reported as dying from legal abortion.
What makes the pro-abortion crowd think that those numbers are going to sky rocket out of control all of a sudden, and why would they climb higher than the death rate associated with abortion before antibiotic use started? 90% of abortions done prior to Roe in 1973 were done by physicians - they weren't done by the coat-hangers that are so defiantly paraded in pro-choice rallies, and there is no reason to think this statistic would change now. With the use of antibiotics and aseptic techniques, how could the number possibly climb to 5,000 deaths per year? Remember the words of Bernard Nathanson, the founder of NARAL, anything within reason that had to be done was permissible. These untruths are being spread simply because they want the law to remain the same at any cost.
Missing in this argument, however, is the reality that should Roe be overturned, abortion would not be outlawed. When Roe was put into effect, it superceded the rights of many states that had already ruled that abortion is illegal. If Roe were to be reversed, the state laws would be the "law of the land." It would be up to the individual states to decide whether or not abortion should be legal within their borders. I suspect that most red states would outlaw abortion, while the blue states would keep it legal. The states where it would become illegal to have an abortion would, no doubt, see a rise in illegal "back-alley" abortion. (Note: The term "back-alley" does not refer to where the abortion was done, but rather it refers to the door where the woman had to enter the clinic to keep from being seen and reported.)
We have a lot of work ahead of us if Roe is overturned. It's easy to say, "Abortion is illegal in my state now - my job is done." If this is what you're looking forward to, you have another thing coming. As pro-women pro-lifers, we need to be thinking about how we can create a society where abortion is no longer desired, where women will feel so supported in their pregnancies that they will not want to seek out that illegal (or legal) abortion, and where women are educated about their fertility so that they know how to avoid intercourse that might lead to a pregnancy. How do we do this? We commit to putting women first. It's as simple as that.