WHO BENEFITS FROM ABORTION?
(In the mid-to-late eighties, I was very involved in our local Right To Life organization. I wrote this article near the end of that period, but never published it. I did print an earlier article entitled, No One Benefits From Abortion, and this article was an attempt to expand upon that idea. Since then I have lost most of the footnotes, so I am putting an asterisk beside anything that I know was borrowed from other pro-life articles, books, etc., but am unsure of exactly where it came from ).
There is no doubt that abortion remains as one of the most controversial issues of our time. Since it was legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 22, 1973, the news media has given ample attention and respect to the views of those favoring abortion rights, while exhibiting considerable caution toward those opposing abortion. The combined influence of these two tremendously powerful sources, the law and the media, has caused many in the general public to conclude that abortion is an acceptable solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancies.
However, we should also remember that the Supreme Court has overruled itself on occasion, the most notable of which was the Dred Scott decision of 1857, declaring that black Americans were not “persons” according to the law. Therefore, the likelihood that the Court may also have decided wrongly on abortion makes it imperative that both sides of this issue be given an equal hearing in the public debate.
It is often said that it is more humane to abort preborn babies who are unwanted by their parents than have them grow up to be abused. At first glance this may sound reasonable since everyone would like to stop child abuse, but this line of thinking is based on the assumption that unwanted pregnancies are often the cause of subsequent child abuse, and this is not true. Instead, it has been found that abused children were rarely the products of unwanted pregnancies. * Therefore, aborting unwanted pregnancies actually causes the death of many children who would surely be loved and accepted by their parents later. Indeed, if all unwanted pregnancies were aborted, many of us would not be here!
But there is another more important flaw in this theory. How are we eliminating child abuse when we eliminate children? Is death really a compassionate and humane solution, or just the ultimate abuse of an uncaring society? And since when do we give one person the authority to choose death for another?
This brings us to a second question concerning the preborn. Is he, or she, a living, human “person,” deserving the protection of the law, or simply a “clump of cells,” merely an appendage of a woman’s body which can be disposed of at her request? The answer to this question has been evident to medical scientists for quite some time. Even many abortion-rights activists have admitted that the child in the womb is alive and human, and this doesn’t happen suddenly at birth, or even viability. On the contrary, life itself is a “continuum,” and was passed on to each of us from our parents at conception. Nothing other than oxygen and nutrition has ever been added to our biological make-up from that time to this.[i]
This being the case, the next question is how, then, could the Supreme Court have ruled that the preborn are not persons? In 1973, the biological facts of reproduction were clear, but they were not widely understood by the public, and possibly not even by the Court. During the turbulent years of the late sixties and early seventies, when the movement for the liberalization of abortion law was growing rapidly, many were not prepared to refute the bold assertions of some that the preborn are simply globs of cells – mere pregnancy tissue. We can only assume that the Supreme Court was not prepared to refute them either.
One of the strongest arguments used by those who wanted to legalize abortion was “to protect women from quacks and butchers” performing illegal abortions, however the truth is that the majority of illegal abortions were actually performed by these doctors, who were the foremost advocates in the drive to legalize abortion. Consequently, even today, the overwhelming percentage of all abortions are done for non-medical reasons and have provided a bonanza of profits to doctors and abortion-referral services.[ii]
Today, even though medical technology can prove clearly that the preborn child is a living human being, separate and unique from his or her mother, the damage has already been done. Much of the public has already become so accustomed to ignoring the humanity of the child in the womb, and so emotionally numbed by millions and millions of abortions, that it has become extremely difficult for them to feel compassion for that child.
And so, legal abortion continues, for the moment, approximately 1 million each year, with well over 90 per cent for reasons of convenience and economy.
“In a world in which adults control power and money, the unborn is at a disadvantage, being small, naked, nameless, and voiceless. He has no one except sympathetic adults to speak up for him and defend him.” Professor A. W. Liley (Father of fetology – 1970)
Most people feel genuine concern for a woman or girl who finds herself with an unplanned, unintended, and unwanted pregnancy. There is no doubt that her distress is very real, but it is quite another thing to agree that abortion is the best recourse for such a woman.
How has legal abortion affected women? Has it had a positive effect, or a negative one?
Abortion proponents have insisted for so many years that legal abortion is a safe procedure, that many now find it unthinkable to believe otherwise. Those who have accepted such claims as fact now view abortion as being synonymous to a woman’s ability to control her own destiny. But there is another segment of society who tell a different story. Leading this group are thousands of women who have suffered both physically and emotionally from their abortions. Although it is almost never mentioned by the media, in recent years a virtual flood of support groups have sprung up nationwide to help these women. The main theme of their testimonies is that abortion providers are not forewarning women of its risks.
The Physical Risks of Abortion
For many reasons, it is almost impossible to get the whole story about the frequency of physical complications from abortion, but the evidence which is available seriously calls into question its supposed “safety.” Unlike childbirth, which is a natural process, abortion is an unnatural intrusion into a closed system – pregnancy, and therefore poses many problems to the health of the woman – both short term and long. Based on “reported” cases alone, at least 10% of aborted women suffer immediate physical complicatons, but since many cases are never reported, there is no doubt that the actual figure is much higher. The most common and severe short-term risks include: perforation of the uterus, infection, embolisms (blood clots), and anesthesia complications. *
The long-term effects, which are usually more damaging and frequent, include: sterility (a 3% to 5% risk), an increased risk of ectopic (tubal) pregnancies (tubal pregnancies have risen 300% since 1973), and cervical damage leading to future miscarriages and premature pregnancies (after one abortion, the risk for a future premature pregnancy increases 8 to 10 times, miscarriage – 10 times). Abortion is even more risky for young women who abort their first pregnancies, greatly reducing their chances of having “wanted” children later. *
While the physical risks of abortion are much higher than is commonly known, a good case can be made that almost all aborted women suffer emotionally. Professional counselors have encountered many patients with post-abortion trauma and have labeled it Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS). But, unfortunately, since much of our society has been conditioned to accept abortion as a “trouble-free” solution to a common problem, there isn’t much compassion for women who have been emotionally devastated. After all, it was their “legal choice.” So, many women either suffer in silence or spend much of their emotional energy repressing and denying any negative feelings they may experience.
The most common negative emotional reactions are: guilt and remorse, broken relationships (70% of couples split up within one year), sexual dysfunction, depression and sense of loss, deterioration of self-esteem, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide (in one study, out of 3000 women who called a suicide hotline in Milwaukee, 1800 had undergone abortions). *
The reality of abortion trauma is very evident in the testimonies of aborted women. Nancyjo Mann, founder of WEBA (Women Exploited By Abortion), recalls how she felt after her abortion. “I was never the same again. The abortion not only killed my daughter, it killed a part of me…..Before that needle entered my abdomen, I had liked myself.”[iii] Also, the late actress, Gloria Swanson, in her auto-biography at the age of 80, shared the effects she still felt after 54 years. “Nothing in the whole world is worth a baby. I realized it as soon as it was too late, and never stopped blaming myself.”[iv]
In this modern age of technology, there are many who want to believe that there exists a quick and safe way of dealing with problem pregnancies. But, in reality, there are no simple solutions to complex problems. Those who would herald the virtues of abortion should remember that a pregnant woman is also a mother, and “the maternal capacity is an integral part of a woman’s self-image.” When we falsify the nature and impact of abortion, we are doing women a great disservice.[v] Women who are faced with untimely pregnancies need and deserve our encouragement and love. When society instead offers them the quick-fix of abortion (or coerces them into it, as if often the case), we are showing them that we aren’t really concerned about them and their children, but only in putting an end to their problems as quickly as possible without getting any more emotionally involved than is absolutely necessary.
Some would still argue that abortion is “necessary” for women to continue their education, advance their careers, or choose their preferred lifestyles. But the question is, are such temporary benefits worth the risks that abortion poses and, more importantly, are they worth the life of their child? The evidence clearly suggests that the destructive effects of abortion by far outweigh any temporary relief it may offer. Abortion is a woman’s issue, but efforts to stop abortion are not attempts to deny women their rights, but rather a promise to alleviate despair, and prevent exploitation.
“If a man loses reverence for any part of life, he will lose his reverence for all life.” Albert Schweitzer
Those who originally lobbied for a ban on abortion restrictions in the U.S. assured us it was for the best, and that many other problems would be relieved – child abuse, illegal abortion, and teenage pregnancy. We were also told that there would not be an epidemic of abortions and that the notion that euthanasia (killing the elderly or handicapped) was on the way was ridiculous. But, in fact, all of these problems have escalated and many of our worst fears are even now being realized. For example, child abuse has risen approximately 500 %,[vi] which means that the most dangerous place for a child is in his own home!
How has this happened? “Whenever and wherever the respect for human life is cheapened and diminished, there is an educational effect upon that culture and society. This has happened in America.”[vii] The more abortion proliferates, the more our values degenerate. Since 1973, something like 56 million abortions have been performed in the U.S. This is a staggering figure! But the killing doesn’t stop there. Infanticide (killing of newborns) and euthanasia are becoming more and more acceptable as our minds become numbed to the point that we can’t even recognize the carnage that is taking place in our midst.
It is fair to say that the majority of mankind, in their history, have always placed a very high value on life. The poet, John Donne, has often been quoted – “any man’ s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” A deep respect has always existed for that which serves, more than anything else, to unite humanity. When Jefferson penned the renowned words that “all men are created equal,” and are therefore “endowed” with the “inalienable right” to “life,” he was not interjecting into history a new philosophical concept. His words were merely in keeping with humanity’s universal and ageless longing for personal freedom. That longing, in turn, has been governed by the notion of justice, that there should be no discrimination in the doling out of personal freedom, lest the strong take advantage of the weak. However, it is this idea of justice that seems to be waning in Twenty-first century America, as well as in many parts of our world today. Somehow we have lost the wisdom that each and every member of the human family deserves the protection of the whole.
The tragedy of abortion is that NO ONE benefits. An innocent child is robbed of the opportunity to live his life, women are encouraged to submit to a pain that will probably last a lifetime, and society is plunged into a state of decadence whereby they slaughter their most precious resource – the young.
We are a noble people with a rich and distinguished heritage. The time has come to call the citizens of this grand nation to return to the secure foundation upon which it was built. Englishman Malcolm Muggeridge once said of the value of life, “however low it flickers or fiercely burns, it is still a Divine flame which no man dare presume to put out, be his motives ever so humane and enlightened.” Once we decide that one man is able to determine the value of another, none of us is safe. We have opened the door to our own destruction.
* – (This article was originally written around 1990 and many of the original footnotes have been lost. The information cited was culled from pro-life literature from that time period. Since I have not been closely involved in the pro-life movement recently, some of the exact statistics could be disputed, but I believe the truth of all statements can be generally supported.)
[i]Handbook on Abortion, Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Wilke, Hayes Publishing Co. 1979[ii] Ibid
[iii] David C. Reardon, Aborted Women, Silent No More, Crossway Books, 1987, from Foreword, p.xvi
[iv] Gloria Swanson, Swanson on Swanson, Random House, 1980
Aborting America, Bernard N. Nathanson, M.D., Life Cycle Books, 1979
To Rescue The Future, Edited by Dave Andrusko, Life Cycle Books, 1983
The Abortion Holocaust, William Brennan, Landmark Press, 1983
When You Were Formed in Secret, Gary Bergel, Intercessors for America, 1984
The Ambivalence of Abortion, Linda Bird Francke, Random House, 1978
Soul Crisis, Sue Nathanson, Signet, 1990
In Necessity and Sorrow, Magda Denes, 1976