Abortion stalks women every day
Thinking It Through
From time to time the issue of abortion is a matter for political controversy, but for women it is an issue every day. With 45 million abortions for the last 36 years, that is 1,500,000 annually, 125,000 monthly, 28,846 weekly and 4,109 daily in this country.
Those children could have been men and women who became mothers and fathers, employers and employees, civilians and soldiers, craftsmen and professionals, and so on. But abortion is an ever-present temptation, legal for all nine months of pregnancy for any reason.
Last year when I was on the campus of Barstow Community College, I encountered a small group of young people who identified themselves as Survivors, meaning they were born since January 22, 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade invalidated the laws of all 50 states with varying degrees of restrictions on abortion. The Court found them in violation of a recently discovered “right to privacy” that included the power to take human life in the womb.
These young people are alive because their mothers decided to bear them. Advocates of abortion emphasize that this decision is “personal,” suggesting that no one should take that from women. But they ignore the fact that reassuring authority figures, from politicians to doctors, are pressuring them to “terminate” their pregnancies.
Take the case of M, who is pregnant with her first child, having waited nearly four years after marriage, but is having difficulty all during her pregnancy. Bed rest is prescribed, and the labor and delivery look to be yet another challenge. She is comfortably cared for in a hospital room that resembles a nursery, in which compassionate care givers want only what is best for her.
For those months of waiting the “choice” is gently proposed of avoiding all difficulty by a procedure which will eliminate the “problem” and postpone birth to some other pregnancy. But the young woman ignores the entreaties and goes ahead with 33 hours of labor and a difficult delivery anyway.
Then there is A, who has given birth in marriage, but that marriage is over and she has met another man who captures her heart but also gets her pregnant. There is no shame these days, it seems, in unwed pregnancy, but she is in the midst of her higher education and means to become a professional, a teacher it turns out. Abortion was a theoretical but not a real possibility for this young woman who, with the support of her family and church, gave this child up for adoption to a childless couple.
Finally, there is H, who has already given birth to two children and her husband has had a vasectomy so that their budget is not strained by another child. But, lo and behold, she learns that she is pregnant anyway, her husband’s timing being a little off. In a visit to her doctor she is told of a procedure known as amniocentesis, the results of which will tell her if hers is a healthy child and in particular whether it is a Downs Syndrome baby.
She surprises, nay, horrifies the doctor when she declares that she is not taking the test, for she is going to give birth to that child whatever its condition. The doctor can hardly believe what he is hearing and remonstrates with the young woman for not taking this “sensible” precaution. But H is adamant and when the doctor pushes back she says, “Go ahead and schedule the test but I won’t show up!”
The massive issue of abortion is dealt with every day by women such as these acting from their minds and hearts to do right by their children. But a powerful array of perhaps well-meaning but definitely misguided persons requires them to affirm what was rarely questioned in an allegedly less “enlightened” time. Then abortion was viewed as a criminal act that both threatened the health and life of the mother and was at war with her natural desire to give birth to a child.
Despite the legal status of abortion, abortionists are still not seen as respectable people, just as slave catchers were low on the list of possible friends despite centuries of legal slavery. “Law never made just what is by nature unjust,” declared George Washington when speaking of Great Britain’s exploitation of colonists. Somehow, despite the easy choice of abortion, millions of women know that abortion is the wrong choice and refuse to make it. God bless them.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Richard Reeb taught political science, philosophy and journalism at Barstow College from 1970 to 2003. He is the author of “ Taking Journalism Seriously: ‘Objectivity’ as a Partisan Cause” (University Press of America, 1999). He can be contacted at email@example.com.