Not safe, legal & rare, but…fatal, taxpayer supported, and plentiful!
Statement of Wanda Franz, Ph.D.
National Right to Life Committee
National Press Club,
January 22, 2009
Today we note not only the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s extra-constitutional Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions, but—more importantly—we mourn the deaths of 50 million unborn babies that were the tragic consequence of these decisions.
In Roe v. Wade the Court’s majority claimed to find a constitutional right to an abortion in the “penumbras” of the Constitution. A “penumbra” is “the area between complete darkness (the umbra) and complete light in an eclipse.” In the case of Roe v. Wade, it is obvious that the penumbra resulted from the bright light of the Constitution being blocked out by the majority’s unwillingness to respect the same Constitution.
I don’t think that the Court’s pro-abortion majority in 1973 fully understood that its casual treatment of the Constitution would result in the deaths of 50 million innocents over the next 36 years. But so far, subsequent pro-abortion majorities on the Court have stubbornly refused to correct the Court’s horrific mistake by reversing Roe and Doe.
Unfortunately, pre-election candidate Obama promised the pro-abortion lobby and the abortion industry that he would only appoint justices and judges who favor the preservation of Roe and Doe. But, President Obama could restore the wellbeing of the constitutional order—and maybe even guarantee his re-election—by changing his mind and appointing only justices and judges who respect the Constitution and refrain from legislating from the bench. I suspect that a solid majority of voters would applaud such a policy. But the chances for that to happen are slim.
Right after the November election, a report in the Wall Street Journal told us that “President-elect Barack Obama and other Democrats have promised to work to make abortion rare, so long as it remains legal.” We, of course, have heard this before. President Obama’s fervent supporters in the pro-abortion lobby and the abortion industry have heard this before, too. And like us, they know from past experience that it is all for show.
Former President Bill Clinton made the same kind of promise and then, as expected, ignored his pledge. In fact, by overturning the pro-life executive orders of President Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, introducing the abortion pill RU 486 into this country, appointing only Supreme Court justices pledged to continue the abortion-on-demand regime of Roe and Doe, twice vetoing the Partial-Birth Abortion-Ban Act, etc., President Clinton forcefully and cynically promoted abortion.
I am afraid what we are seeing now is anything but “change we can believe in.” Instead, we are seeing a replay of Clintonian, “moderate” double talk on abortion coupled with a steely support for abortion. President Obama promised to reverse of the pro-life policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and his appointment of several operatives from the abortion lobby and industry make the point too well.
Election after election, Democratic presidential candidates and the pro-abortion leadership of the Democratic Party keep repeating these phony promises about making abortion “rare” while keeping it “legal” because they know that the public has severe misgivings about abortion. After all, even Kate Michelman, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s former president, admitted to the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1993 that “abortion is a bad thing.”
But anyone endowed with common sense will recognize that if any “bad thing” (e.g., embezzlement) is made legal, we can hardly expect it to become rare—especially when a whole industry exists to provide the “bad thing.” Our opponents are not stupid; so they understand that, too. But they contemptuously expect you to buy this nonsense.
In the 1973 Doe v. Bolton case, the Supreme Court decided that medical review and hospitalization requirements for an abortion were “unconstitutional”—in other words, the pro-abortion majority on the Court created the abortion clinic industry out of nothing. That industry, of course, has absolutely no incentive to make abortion “rare.”
Thus, the promise of making abortion rare while keeping it legal is both nonsensical and fraudulent. Its sole purpose is to provide cover for Democratic politicians who want the huge financial support of the abortion lobby and industry while trying to appeal to so-called “moderate” voters who remain uninformed on the full extent of the abortion disaster.
The pro-abortionists play along with this charade because they know that the much-proclaimed efforts of the Democratic Party leadership to make abortion “rare” are meant to do the opposite: After an election, the Democratic leadership invariably proposes to increase governmental subsidies for the likes of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, and to invalidate or block any pro-life law.
Fortunately, abortion has become rarer for many years now. In spite of the efforts of the pro-abortion lobby to promote abortion, there has been an attitudinal change about abortion in the pro-life direction.
A statistical measure for the “popularity” of abortion among women is the abortion rate, defined as the number of abortions per 1,000 women of child-bearing age (15-44 years). The abortion rate rose rapidly after the 1973 Roe and Doe decisions. It peaked in 1980-81 at 29.3 and thereafter went into a steady decline. By 2005, the abortion rate was down 33% to 19.4—the same level it had in 1974.
The decline would have been even more dramatic had it not been for a disturbing increase in repeat abortions, which amounted to nearly 47% of all abortions in 2005.
It is noteworthy that, while the number of women of child-bearing age increased by 16% from 1980 to 2005, the abortion rate decreased at twice that rate.
Because of the increase in the number of women of child-bearing age, the yearly number of abortions peaked later, at 1.6 million in 1990. Thereafter, it decreased by 25% to 1.2 million in 2005—about the same level it had in 1976.
Had the abortion rate not decreased from its peak value in 1980/81, but simply stayed the same, there would have been 50% more abortions in 2005: 1.8 million, instead of the actual 1.2 million. Thus, in 2005 alone, the attitudinal change expressed in a lower abortion rate meant that 600,000 lives were saved.
Based on the steady increase in the number of women of child-bearing age and the simultaneous decrease in the abortion rate, the number of lives saved from abortion since 1980 is about 9 million. These babies permanently escaped the grasp of the abortionists—and of the politicians who were willing to trade their lives for campaign contributions from the abortion lobby and industry.
Our pro-abortion opponents explain the lowered abortion rate by an increase in the use of contraception and a decline of the number of abortion providers. The change from steep rise to decline in the abortion rate would have required an equally sudden change in contraceptive practices—which is not likely. Moreover, an increased use of contraception is at odds with the significant rise in repeat abortions. In these cases, abortion is used as a substitute for contraception.
As to the decline in the number of abortion providers, let’s understand this was really a consolidation of the abortion industry, with Planned Parenthood emerging as the dominant industry behemoth.
No, the most likely explanation for the decline of the abortion rate lies in the work of the right-to-life movement and women’s own re-evaluation of abortion:
n The pro-life movement had organized itself and gained “critical mass” by 1980.
n Many women who had had abortions joined the right-to-life movement.
n The abortion issue became a motivating force for social conservatives in the campaign that made Ronald Reagan president. Not surprisingly, large numbers of Protestant pro-lifers joined NRLC. Since that pivotal election, the abortion issue has been a significant aspect of political campaigns.
n NRLC and its state affiliates became increasingly adept at launching educational and legislative campaigns. The very process of discussing these initiatives helped the public see through the rhetorical fog of so-called “choice” and re-focused its attention on what actually happens in an abortion, namely the death of an innocent child.
n Specifically, NRLC defeated pro-abortion legislation, such as the federal “Freedom of Choice Act,” and secured the passage of legislation promoting the right to life. Among the latter are the Hyde Amendment, preventing the spending of federal funds for abortions (thus making abortion less likely), and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. The educational impact of these campaigns was enormous.
n NRLC’s efforts on the national level were enhanced on the state level. Our affiliates were able to pass, for example, 23 women’s-right-to-know laws, 28 laws requiring parental involvement in the abortion decisions of their minor daughters, and 11 laws enabling women to see ultrasound images of their child in utero.
To these factors we must add the widespread use of ultrasound imaging during pregnancy. What pregnant women nowadays see in utero is not “a cluster of cells,” or “a blob of tissue,” or “potential life,” but a baby—their baby!
If President Obama were truly determined to make abortion rarer, he would do the exact opposite of what he promised the abortion lobby before the election: He would only appoint justices and judges who respect the Constitution. He would continue the pro-life policies and executive orders of President George W. Bush. He would support the pro-life efforts and laws that brought about the decline of the abortion rate. And he definitely would not resurrect the infamous “Freedom of Choice Act.”
2 Comments »