Thoughts on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade

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.