Forty years after Roe v. Wade, nothing captures the two poles in the abortion debate better than the covers of two news magazines that come to my home. World Magazine, a news magazine written from a solidly Biblical world view, features photos of a couple dozen babies, each one the child of a woman that was considering abortion when she entered a crisis pregnancy center, but chose life instead. Time Magazine’s cover, on the other hand, shows the stark picture of an empty medical stirrup chair on a black background, under the title: 40 YEARS AGO, ABORTION-RIGHTS ACTIVISTS WON AN EPIC VICTORY WITH ROE V. WADE – THEY’VE BEEN LOSING GROUND EVER SINCE. The two cover stories highlight the good news and bad news, depending on one’s point of view, of four decades of legalized abortion on demand in America. I offer here a summary and a call to continue the fight for life.
First, the bad news: Over fifty million children have been lost to legal abortion since the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision. Most abortions are obtained by women under age 30. At the current rate, 1 in 3 women in America will have at least one abortion by age 45. The abortion rate among black women is 350% higher than the rate among white women. More and more public school systems are providing abortion inducing, prescription medications to minors, the so called “morning after” pills. 90% of abortions fall in the first trimester, only about 1.3% happen after 20 weeks. That sounds like a small number, but that is still 43 per day. These so-called “late-term” or “partial-birth” abortions are happening to children who could survive outside the womb. Some will think this offensive, but the New Town massacre is too close in memory for us not to at least take note of the irony. Where is the outcry for these legally destroyed children?
Now the good news: Only 40% of Americans now consider themselves Pro-Choice, the lowest number since 1995. As of 2009, the overall abortion rate had fallen 5% nationwide (but those numbers are hard to substantiate and only include 43 states). Since 2011, 10 states have taken steps to strip public funding from abortion providers. Louisiana, Georgia and Arkansas have outlawed abortions after 18-20 weeks based on scientific discoveries related to fetal pain. In 2011, states passed 92 restrictions on abortion, the highest ever. In 2012 they passed 43 more. Fewer doctors are taking the training to perform abortions and the pool of physicians willing to do it is shrinking due to retirement, cultural pressure, the hassle factor caused by new state laws, and personal moral reflection based on advances in scientific knowledge of life in the womb. 40 abortion workers quit the industry last year, following former abortion worker Abby Johnson, who quit after witnessing the abortion of a 13 week old baby via ultrasound. Johnson established a ministry called And Then There Were None (ATTWN.ORG) that helps such folks make the transition. She believes that more are ready to leave, which will make it difficult to keep the doors open at the nation’s 660 abortion providers.
Easily lost in these stats are the hundreds of thousands of young women each year who face a stark choice, often alone. Yes, certainly they’ve made the moral and sexual choices that brought on unwanted pregnancies. But who among us could not say that, were we in the same family and cultural circumstances, would not (did not?) make the same choices. Their stories are often heart breaking. We can help them.
We can continue, and even increase our support, for local crisis pregnancy centers. Support doesn’t just mean money, or serving on the front lines in the clinics, something usually available only to women. It may mean providing leadership and administrative skills to undermanned and ill-lead boards of directors. There is a crisis of leadership in such boards across the country. Perhaps some of our men can serve there.
We can increase our support for legislators and governors and other political leaders who take wise and courageous action on behalf of the unborn. Have you thanked the governor yet and Delegate Edmonds for their efforts on behalf of the unborn? They took a beating in the press last year. They need to hear from you.
We can increase our support of and participation in adoption. A disproportionate number of us want to restrict abortion but refuse to adopt.
We can reignite a culture of marriage. Let’s face it; we’re often giving people in their sexual prime mixed messages: “Stay single until you finish college! But don’t have sex!” We’re afraid they will marry the wrong person and be miserable or divorced by age 30. We can do better than that. We need to honor marriage, show young people that it isn’t rocket science, that they too can have a great marriage and still succeed economically, and then model it for them.
Overall, I find the news to be positive. It means that those of us in the Pro-Life movement have made progress against the darkness. It means that, with a united effort, in this and other culturally explosive areas, we can make more.