Time for a new abortion bandwagon?

gavelI want to say just a bit more on the topic of abortion. I think we need to understand that the Supreme Court ruling known as Roe vs. Wade was a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself. Like I said yesterday, even if Roe vs. Wade were overturned abortion wouldn’t go away. In strict terms, it wouldn’t even become illegal, except in the states that chose to make it so. Before 1973, abortion was already legal under some circumstances (following the model proposed by the American Law Institute) in thirteen states.

But even at that, let’s talk about legislation in general. Laws allowing abortion are a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. We need to think about the factors in our society that have led to widespread public support for legalized abortion. Modifying laws while that sentiment still exists won’t accomplish much.

Jay Abels commented yesterday:

Almost 10 years ago, an article in Página 12 shocked me. In 2003 the number of abortions in Argentina was estimated to approximate the number in the USA. Their population was only about one tenth of our population, but abortion was so rampant, that they had almost as many abortions as we did. The biggest difference was that every one of the abortions in Argentina was illegal. There had not been one single legal abortion. The other big difference was between the death rates of the mothers. Abortion continues to be the leading cause of death for pregnant women in Latin America, where it has been illegal in every country. We knew 2 young women who died, one from a poorly done abortion by a neighbor lady, and the other from cancer when she did not get an abortion and the hormones stimulated the tumor’s growth.
Counting something that it illegal isn’t easy. We can get numbers on the amounts of tobacco sold that are much more accurate than on the amounts of marijuana. The same is true for abortion in Latin America. With the variety of estimated numbers and rates there, every one far exceeds the rate here where it is legal. Last year Uruguay legalized first trimester abortion with a number of restrictions. They are the first L.A. country to legalize it. It will be interesting to see what their numbers do.
I am certainly not in favor of increasing abortion rates; I have never heard any one say that they are. There are a variety of ideas on how to bring the rates down. Making it illegal does not appear to do anything but raise the rate both on abortions and on the death of the mothers. Maybe we should get on a different bandwagon.

Abortion numbers rose greatly over the last few years. Even in places where abortion was illegal. Here are some thoughts on some cultural influences besides the legal ones:

  • The use of penicillin to treat venereal disease eliminated one of the great inhibitors of promiscuity
  • The widespread availability of effective contraception took away the fear of pregnancy
  • The social pressure to “do the right thing” disappeared; couples no longer felt they had to marry when the girl got pregnant. Now women were often left to face the financial and physical burdens alone.
  • Medical procedures regarding abortion were studied more openly. New techniques were developed. (I purposely avoid all adjectives like “effective” or “better”; they make me shudder)
  • Debates over abortion laws have created a sense of “this is my right”
  • Social stigmas concerning abortion have all but disappeared

Can you think of others?

Joel pleaded yesterday that different methods of opposing abortion be respected. I’ll echo that plea. Those that want to join the public fight over “Roe vs. Wade” need to recognize that they’re choosing one of many methods. And it’s one of the least effective (if you haven’t, I’d encourage you to look at James Davison Hunter’s material on To Change The World, either on this site or at the author’s site). As Jay said, it’s time that the church as a whole chose a different bandwagon. Let’s address the illness, not just the symptoms.

7 thoughts on “Time for a new abortion bandwagon?

  1. Nick Gill

    I’ve been praying for several months now that God would raise up a leader that would cast a vision for the US somewhat like JFK did re: the space program. In 1961, JFK challenged the nation to put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth by the end of the decade.

    I’m praying that we will soon have a president who will challenge us to make abortion obsolete. Not illegal – obsolete! That we will marshal all our resources and energy into becoming a society where abortion is viewed much like we view leeching today — as a painful and desperate anachronism of a society that was trying and failing miserably at doing what’s best.

  2. Tim Archer Post author


    I think it will take a serious health campaign, much like what was done with cigarettes. Right now it’s a win/lose pinball for the political parties, which means that we’ll always have half the country supporting it. We’ve got to pull the whole discussion out of that realm if we’re ever to get anywhere.

    Grace and peace,

  3. Jerry Starling

    One other factor that may contribute to the number of abortions is the poverty of the woman. If she feels she cannot support a child, she is more likely to abort it. It’s sad that deciding to abort carries less stigma than “giving up my baby” by way of adoption.

  4. Terry

    In the 1990s, I read a report which compared the abortion rates in the USA and Russia. Both nations had very similar laws (essentially allowing unrestricted legal access to abortion). However, while nearly one-third of American pregnancies ended with abortions, nearly two-thirds of Russian pregnancies ended with abortions. There may be many factors involved in why there were such different results. One may have been the larger number of evangelical Christians in the USA. Another may have been the existance of the pro-life movement in the USA. Even though the pro-life movement seemed to have little success in the legislative process, it seemed to have nade an impact in creating a climate in which fewer abortions were taking place.

  5. Tim Archer Post author

    Interesting perspective, Terry. Thanks for adding that info to the discussion.

    One would hope that Christian teachings would have an impact Russia had been stridently anti-Christian, at least officially.

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