AT THE PRO-LIFE GAINS
NOW IS THE TIME TO DEFEND THEM
By Wanda Franz, Ph.D.
that Roe v. Wade is still the Court-imposed law of the land makes
some pro-lifers lament that we haven’t made any progress. They are
too pessimistic. We are really facing two tasks: One is to undo
Roe v. Wade. The other is to change women’s attitude about
is very difficult because the Supreme Court declared abortion to be
a constitutional right. This right can only be removed by the Court
itself or by a difficult and cumbersome constitutional amendment.
second front, namely changing women’s attitude about abortion, there
has been considerable and sustained progress. There are statistical
data for the period from 1973 to 2005. Let’s look at them as they
are displayed in the three graphs, because they show that, over
time, women have resorted to abortion less and less.
shows the overall trend from 1973 to 2005. During that period the
number of women of child–bearing age (officially, ages 15 to 44
years) rose continually.
number of yearly abortions rose steeply during the 1970s; but then
stayed nearly unchanged during the 1980s, even while the number of
women of child-bearing age kept rising. After its peak in 1990 at
1.6 million abortions, it began a steady decline to 1.2 million in
2005—a drop of 25%.
important statistic is the abortion rate, the number of abortions
per 1,000 women of child-bearing age. It shows what women actually
do with regard to abortion: it is a measure of the “popularity” of
abortion, so to speak. This number rose quickly during the 1970s;
but it then reversed course in 1980-81 at 29.3 and declined by over
33% to 19.4 in 2005.
This is a
very important point: as the number of women of child-bearing age
rose, fewer and fewer women resorted to abortion. In fact, had the
abortion rate not decreased, but simply stayed the same as in
1980-81, there would have been 50% more abortions in 2005: 1.8
million instead of 1.2 million. In 2005, alone 600,000 lives were
saved because of this attitudinal change in the pro-life direction.
Cumulatively, about nine million lives have been saved from 1980
abortion rate began to slow down in the 1970s with the enactment of
the Hyde Amendment that denied federal funds for abortion. By 1980,
the pro-life movement had asserted itself strongly. The campaign
electing Ronald Reagan as president mobilized new segments of the
right-to-life community. Since 1980 numerous pro-life laws on the
federal and state level have been debated and passed, drawing
attention to the horrors of abortion. Women who had had abortions
regretted them and joined pro-life ranks. And, quite importantly,
ultrasound imaging educated pregnant women about the humanity of the
child in the womb.
decline in abortions would have been even more dramatic if it had
not been for the rise in repeat abortions as seen in Figure 2. At
the peak in 1990, there were 1.6 million abortions altogether. Over
700,000 of those were repeat abortions; that is, these women had had
at least one previous abortion. Apparently, a segment of women is
still looking at abortion as a means of birth control. Repeat
abortions rose steadily from 1973 to the 1990s. Now they account
for over 45% of all abortions. Fortunately, even repeat abortions
have declined since their peak
factor out the rate of repeat abortions, we see that the abortion
rate for the first abortion showed the most encouraging decline: a
drop of nearly 47% over the period 1979-80 to 2005, as we can see in
Figure 3. In fact, even the rate for repeat abortions has declined
since its peak in the early 1990s. Clearly, women have become more
pro-life in their actions with regard to abortion. And you have had
a great part in this wonderful development.
challenge for pro-lifers is to hold on to these gains and expand
them. Unfortunately, the health care reform plans of the Obama
administration and the pro-abortion leadership in Congress threaten
to undermine these pro-life gains:
health care bureaucrats and the courts would require insurance
coverage of abortion on demand.
health care bureaucrats would impose expanded access to abortion on
demand through the abortion clinic mandate.
health care bureaucrats would impose key provisions of the proposed
“Freedom of Choice Act” through the “backdoor” of health-care
bureaucrats’ health-care “reform” would result in federal funding
for abortions and nullify pro-life state laws perceived to be in
conflict with health care reform.
You and I
must do everything to prevent any anti-life provisions in a health
care reform plan. There must be specific and explicit prohibitions
against mandating and funding abortions and invalidating existing
pro-life laws. Call your congressman and your senators at