I 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.