Forty years after the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, we still don’t know how to talk about abortion in American society.
We protest it, rally for it, yell at each other, and we pass restrictions on it and then wail about how burdensome the restrictions are.
Very little that has happened in the past 40 years involves rational, reasoned discussion or education or talk of common ground.
We don’t, for instance, have much dialogue about how to limit abortions – not through government, though that’s certainly legitimate, but through our own voluntary actions as an enlightened citizenship.
The pro-choice side tries its best to stifle debate by 1) talking exclusively about the woman having an abortion and her rights, not about the child that dies from it and 2) frequently bringing up the specter of rape or incest.
Let’s talk about that last point.
First, understand that rape and incest account for less than 1 percent of all abortions.
Second, the subject of abortions arising from rape or incest isn’t widely studied, but what little information we do have indicates that someone other than the victim often makes the decision to abort; 80 percent of the women regret the abortion, even though the baby was the result of a sexual assault; and no victims reported regretting taking the baby to term.
On a purely practical level, neither does the child share any of the blame for the sexual assault.
At bottom, even those who support abortion rights don’t necessarily have to support abortion; that’s one reason they prefer to be called “pro-choice.”
Indeed, there’s no reason why abortion rights supporters and abortion opponents can’t find common cause in working to at least reduce the number of abortions. Nor have we ever understood why some folks are so adamantly opposed to requirements that pregnant women who are considering abortion be given as much information as possible on the medical consequences, the fetal realities (how fetuses recoil in pain) and the wonderful alternatives to abortion, which include making a young couple ecstatic at the opportunity to adopt a child.
We would hope, too, that even abortion rights supporters would see the need to reduce the number of abortions by shrinking the number of unwanted pregnancies. The awful truth – which we have yet to confront in the past 40 years – is that the overwhelming majority of abortions are belated birth control that follows irresponsible and wholly self-indulgent promiscuity.
Babies, in short, pay the ultimate price for a night of selfish pleasure.
How can anybody be for that?
Our pro-choice friends complain bitterly about legislative attempts to restrict abortions. But we fear they wildly exaggerate the harm to women, while ignoring the benefits to them of up-to-date information. Most laws passed since Roe actually make for safer and more accountable services.
Nor should pro-choicers begrudge the rest of us from declining, in the firmest possible terms, from having pro-lifers’ money fund something we fundamentally believe is taking an innocent life.
In Augusta, we have a rare situation in which a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic on Broad Street is countered, right across the street, by a Care Pregnancy Center that offers alternatives. If the folks at the abortion clinic really put their women patients first, they would encourage them to go across the street first – and explore the alternatives and the loving support available at the Care Pregnancy Center. Then, if they were still intent on the abortion, they could walk back across the street.
Whatever our beliefs in this country, surely we can come together to reduce the demand for abortion.
Isn’t it about time we had that discussion?