In the wake of the controversy over legalized abortion, most Americans are unaware of the nature of the Roe vs. Wade ruling.
Roe vs. Wade was a 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the case of rape, incest, or when the physical health of the mother is endangered. The court also determined that human life could only be legally protected after the first trimester (or first three months) of a pregnancy. The court granted individual states the right to regulate abortion laws in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, but gave the individual woman the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.
Since 1973, however, over 23 million abortions have been performed … and most abortions are performed on demand without regard to the conditions of the original ruling. Ten percent of these, or over two million abortions, have been performed after the first three months of pregnancy.
A 1987 survey by the Alan Guttmacher Institute showed that three quarters of American women obtaining an abortion did so because having a baby would interfere with work, school, or other responsibilities.
About two-thirds in that sample said they could not afford to have a child, and half said that they did not want to be a single parent or were having problems in their relationship with their father.
Another poll conducted March 27-29, 1989, by The Boston Globe showed that most Americans would ban the vast majority of abortions performed in this country. Seventy-two percent said they would allow abortion in no circumstances or limit abortion to the circumstances provided for in the original Supreme Court ruling. According to the Guttmacher survey, those circumstances account for only seven percent of the 1.5 million abortions performed annually.
When rape or incest results in a pregnancy, or there is danger to the health and life of the mother, those surveyed overwhelmingly favored abortion. However, when pregnancy poses financial or emotional strain, or when the woman is unmarried or a teenager, the poll showed that a majority of Americans believe abortion should be illegal.
In the Boston Globe survey, 1002 registered voters were reached nationwide. Only 25 percent said that abortion should be legal in all circumstances, 19 percent said in no circumstances and 53 percent who believed that abortion should be legal only in certain circumstances were then asked a series of questions. Because of the reduced sample the question had an error margin of three percent.
The following circumstances were preceded by the question: “In this case, do you think it should be legal or illegal for a woman to obtain an abortion?”
- “A woman who feels that it’s the wrong time in her life to have a baby” – 82 percent said abortion should be illegal.
- “A woman who cannot afford to have a child” – 75 percent said abortion should be illegal.
- “The father is unwilling to help raise the child” – 83 percent said that abortion should be illegal.
- “The mother wants an abortion but the father wants the baby” – 72 percent said abortion should be illegal.
Most Americans disapprove the use of public funds to pay for abortions and the vast majority is opposed to the use of abortion for gender selection or birth control.
Although most Americans approve of abortion in certain circumstances (rape, incest, or physical danger to the mother) the poll reveals that 72 percent of all those surveyed are against abortion in most instances.
Recent polls show that Americans are not in favor of abortion on demand, but there is a disparity in popular opinion. Gallup and Harris showed that nearly 60 percent of the country does not favor the overturn of Roe vs. Wade, while 57 percent want abortion to be legal only in certain circumstances. Such apparently contradictory results show just how unaware most people in America are of the availability of abortion under the Roe vs. Wade decision.
The decision has now been extended to such a degree that second and third trimester babies are being slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands annually. Many of these babies could survive outside of the womb at these stages of development.
A major contributing factor to the ignorance of the American public are distortions and highly publicized misinformation propagated by pro-abortion groups.
Douglas Gould, vice president for communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America – a group campaigning in favor of abortion – recently stated that when the question centers around the “legal right of a woman” to have an abortion without government restriction, most Americans will give the decision to the woman to make. “That’s the beauty of the Roe decision,” Gould said. “It leaves the question where most Americans think it should be – with the woman and her doctor.”
Guy Condon, executive director of Americans United for Life, a pro-life organization, put it differently: “Our focus is on restoring legal protection of unborn children against elective abortions.” He said that when the question is posed in terms of “legal rights of the unborn,” most Americans disapprove of abortion, but when the question centers around personal choice, the focus shifts around to the pregnant woman rather than the child having that choice.
It is a great hypocrisy to believe that a woman should have the right to an abortion, and yet deny the right to life to an unborn child. The inconsistencies of such thinking can be seen in groups which seek to ratify the equal rights amendment or promote animal rights while denying unborn children the right to life.
Says author Winkie Pratney, “Many of the same apparently intelligent people who fight for the lives of baby whales, seal pups, and fledgling bald eagles also demand the right to abort a human child. Who has blinded them to the shocking inconsistency in their thinking?“1
Seeing Through the Media Smokescreens
In the news media this injustice has been fed to the American public, and sadly, many have been deceived. Recently, the National Abortion Rights Action League ran a full page advertisement in the New York Times, featuring a picture of a coat-hanger and a message – “Just 16 years ago, for countless desperate women, a coat-hanger looked like the only way out of a crisis pregnancy.” This ad and many more like it are last attempt scare tactics being used by the pro-abortion movement to intimidate the opponents of Roe vs. Wade.
The pro-abortion movement is now using extreme distortions to defend their cause. The most notable of these is – KEEP ABORTION SAFE AND LEGAL.
Although abortions are now legal, they are by no means safe. During the years following the Roe vs. Wade decision many malpractice suits have been filed against abortion clinics. The number of women who have experienced sterility, infection, perforation of the uterus, or psychological trauma since 1973 have far exceeded those in the years previous to the Supreme Court decision.
These statistics are the result of legal abortion on demand coupled with a skyrocketing curve depicting the number of pregnancies among unmarried young women. The result of these two positively correlated factors has been an even greater occurrence of traumatic horror and degradation than when abortion was legal.
Women in America are not “safer” under the Roe vs. Wade decision, but more prone than ever to abuse, exploitation, and barbaric treatment.
Other horrors related to abortion exposed in recent years include:
- Post-abortion syndrome – a state of depression and psychological trauma observed in women following an abortion.
- Live post-abortion births – forced births during second and third trimester abortions have often yielded live babies who are then left to die by starvation or neglect.
- Fetal experimentation – aborted babies have been kept alive in incubators and used in medical experiments; others have had their organs harvested for experimentation while still alive.
There are alternatives to abortion that are safer and more humane than this barbaric practice. Men and women possessed of a deeper and gentler humanity are forming Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which are the pro-life movement’s answer to the abortion clinic. Women are given the right to choose adoption, and are also given counseling and financial assistance if they choose to take on the awesome responsibility of raising and caring for their child.
Crisis Centers are being established by people who display a more responsible attitude toward a crisis pregnancy. Thousands of compassionate people have volunteered freely to work at these centers and to take some of these women into their homes. Contrary to the distortion propagated by the National Abortion Rights Action League – Crisis Centers, not abortion, is the answer to a crisis pregnancy.
Another tactic being employed by the pro-abortion movement is the distortion of “unwanted children.” Thousands of married couples have been waiting for years to adopt children, yet “unwanted children” are short in supply. Perhaps abortion is in part responsible for the recent occurrence of “black market babies,” a practice in which children are kidnapped by underworld organizations and sold to couples who are unable to adopt. The concept of “unwanted children” needs to be eradicated from our national consciousness.
Our lawmakers and statesmen have also been blinded by the same deception that has overtaken the pro-abortion forces. Supreme Court Justice Blackmun recently stated in an interview with The Village Voice that the unborn are not included in the definition of the word person.
Referring to the 14th Amendment, which states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States … No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of the law,” Blackmun concluded, “So, the word person does not include the unborn.”
Blackmun’s reasoning here is extremely flawed. The phrase “All persons” does not mean “only those persons”; the term is inclusive, not exclusive. The words “born” and “naturalized” are descriptive terms referring to “persons” – the intent of this amendment was to grant equal rights to all people, and (together with the 13th and 15th Amendments) to abolish slavery. This statement does not define what a person is, but states inclusively (not exclusively) which persons ought to be considered citizens and have the rights of life, liberty and freedom.
Furthermore, if Blackmun’s reasoning was followed, only those born or naturalized in the United States should be considered “persons.” What about those born outside the United States? Are they not considered persons, either? Should illegal aliens be killed the same way that abortionists butcher babies? It is amazing that a man who has ascended to such a high seat of power can apply such flawed thinking to a decision making process.
If Roe vs. Wade is overturned, individual states will then be given the right to regulate abortion. Liberal states, such as California, New York or Massachusetts could then become a haven for all those seeking an abortion. What is needed is a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to life for the unborn and making abortion an illegal practice. Then millions of children will be given their chance to live their lives and express their humanity freely.
1 Winkie Pratney, “Contract on Children,” Last Days Magazine, Vol. 12, No. 1.