Today is the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. Before 1973, women seeking abortions were forced to find illegal practitioners who were not necessarily trained or licensed to perform the procedure. In many cases, they suffered from illnesses or injuries as a result. Whether or not one favors abortion, at least now one can hope for a procedure that is done properly in sterile conditions with minimal danger to their health.
How many people have abortions? More than you would think. In interviewing childless women for my book, I was surprised at the number of women who told me they had had abortions, legal or not. Some had more than one. And that turned out to be their only chance to have children. Some admitted they didn’t really want an abortion but did it because their husband or boyfriend insisted. If anyone is in that situation now, I hope they can find the courage to say no and have the baby despite their partner’s objections. A man who insists you abort a baby you want is not worth keeping.
I’m having trouble finding consistent figures on just how many American women have abortions. A fact sheet from the National Abortion Federation offers some interesting facts about who has abortions and why. They maintain that “at the current rate, 35 percent of all women of reproductive age in America today will have had an abortion by the time they reach the age of 45.” That’s a lot. As has always been the case, most are young and most are unmarried. A substantial number are older and belong to religions that say abortion is a sin. What drives women to abort? It’s the feeling that “I just can’t have a baby right now in this situation.” God bless them, they see no other way out.
As a Catholic, I truly believe that abortion is murder, that it’s ending a life. I would not have an abortion or encourage anyone else to do it. But do I have a right to impose my religious beliefs on other people who believe differently? To force pregnant women who see no other choice but to seek dangerous and illegal means to end their pregnancies? I don’t think so. I know others will disagree.
I considered including a chapter on abortion in my book, but took it out because I have no personal experience in this area. But it is a factor in becoming childless by marriage.
Tell me what you think about it.
7 thoughts on “Thoughts on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade”
I have the exact feelings as you on abortion. It's murder and it's wrong but a majority of our nation feels it's “okay.” For them there is a gray area where they do not feel they are killing anything.I could never feel that abortion is a medical procedure to remove unwanted material. You can remove tumors because they are dangerous. You can remove a mole that is unsightly because it might turn into something cancerous (even it if is only for cosmetic reasons). But to remove a growing child – no way.Of course people will argue that abortion is “okay” when it threatens a mother’s life or has genetic issues that will make it die soon after birth anyway. Or rape victims who shouldn't have to deal with an unwanted child. These, I suppose, are the gray areas.In this instance, I do not see a gray area. I see a life being taken. Still, this is MY faith and my morals talking. I will never get an abortion and most people I know wouldn't either–regardless of whether it it's legal or not. Others will, regardless of legality. So I guess the answer is to make that option safe.The one thing I can't explain is my lack of passion on the subject. And I don't vote according to what the political leader feels because I feel abortion is one issue of many, many issues and I must look at everything the politician stands for. Most people I know vote ONLY according to the abortion issue.The issue of abortion is so large. My answer is to never have an abortion and I would do everything in my power to stop another person in my life from having one.I suppose it's like domestic violence. I would never put up with domestic violence and would help anyone I know who is in danger. But do I speak out about deaths resulting from domestic violence it or vote according to what politicians feel? No, it's not something I have experience with and it's only one issue of many. Where do you start?Anon S
Thanks, Anon S. We do seem to think alike. I don't vote based on a candidate's abortion stance either. There are so many other issues to consider. But there are many gray areas in the abortion question. And I don't really do anything about abortion beyond believing that it's wrong. People I love have had abortions. Do I shun them as sinners? I can't.
I certainly wouldn't shun them either. Which is weird because I DO believe that it's killing. If someone I loved murdered another person (like a husband flipped out and killed his wife's lover) I suppose I could come to terms with their behavior and still love them as a person who made a grave mistake. I'd see them differently and that might alter the relationship.Yet when a woman panics and kills her fetus, it just doesn't seem to be as “shocking.” Even though she made a “pre-meditative” decision to have it done.For me, I think I could handle a friend having an abortion if it had happened in her past, especially if she was remorseful over it. If I had a current friend who chose to have an abortion I'm not sure how I would deal with it.This all reminds me of the flip side – in vitro. I have a sister-in-law who carried a baby for her friends who tried everything to have them on their own. It was their egg and sperm in her body. The beautiful baby was born and it fulfilled a dream for the parents. The other fertilized eggs were implanted in another surrogate, but it didn't work.Even in our mostly Catholic family, we were all proud and supportive. But my other sister-in-law struggles to accept the situation. It bothers and angers her that “surrogate sister-in-law” did this. Her feelings are based upon the fact that many fertilized eggs are destroyed or frozen, never to be used. She feels the childless parents should have accepted God's will and just adopted (and we know how that is just a “perfect” situation for everyone) She prays all the time that “surrogate sister-in-law” will see her sin and repent.Probably you weren't intending to “go there” but for me this is as murky as anything else. I would never go the in vitro route. It just wouldn't be for me. However, I've seen first-hand how in vitro makes many, many people happy. Sometimes I struggle with my passive attitude towards abortion and in vitro. Especially compared to the passion of my other sister-in-law. I wonder why it's “not as bad” to freeze or discard fertilized eggs but certainly “wrong” to abort, but that I'd eventually be okay with friends who do either. The “it's not for me” attitude doesn't really solve anything. But maybe that is okay – I'm doing my part to be as good and as moral as I believe my God wants me to be. I don't want to judge people who aren't in a place in their lives to make the best decisions. Anon S
Thanks for bringing up such a delicate subject. I respect the religious beliefs of others, and I am also grateful that as a woman, the law allows me to make my own choice if I were in a situation in which abortion was an option. Personally, I could never go through with it, except in a situation where I knew the fetus was not going to survive anyway or was a threat to my own life. I have NO respect for politicians who attempt to impose their religious beliefs into federal law, and find it offensive, especially with respect to rights and decisions about very personal and private matters. You may be aware of a recent wrongful death lawsuit against a Catholic hospital in the case of the death of a young woman pregnant with twins. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/24/fetuses-not-people-catholic-hospital-says-in-court-case/1863013/The defense is arguing that the fetus is NOT A PERSON, and so they are not at fault. It seems the Catholic church recognizes a fetus as a person, except in cases where it costs them money. I cannot get behind an organization that will not uphold its own policies in difficult situations. And they expect young women with no support to do so?
I had not read about that case. Thanks for sharing it. The church does seem to be doing some clever flip-flopping there. In many cases, a 7-month-old fetus can survive these days, so how could they not be considered a person? Crazy.
I am moderate, pro life and understand sometimes abortions have to happen. What if say a 12-year-old got pregnant by someone a few years older than her? It happened to my 12-year-old neighbor this past summer, and they aborted. Three guys were charged with child rape and statutory rape. Not forced but against the law because of the girl's age. There is no way a 12-year-old needs to have a baby regardless of anyone’s stance. I do think prolife has a stigma because of religious radicals. You get accused of trying to set women back 50 years at the mention of it, just like you feel accused of being a baby killer for using birth control. Forced or coerced abortion is something pro choice rarely considers. Extremes either way fail.
I agree. There are time when abortion seems to be the logical thing to do, such as with the 12-year-old girl, but it's always a difficult and tragic choice.