Will Abortion Soon Go the Way of Slavery?
Is abortion in the United States destined to go the way of slavery? A moral evil considered a stain on the conscience of a nation, which future generations of Americans will look back upon with shame and derision in the same way we treat with contempt the thought that anyone could have ever attempted to justify slavery?
While it may seem unfathomable to contemplate, considering how commonplace abortion has become in America since the ruling in Roe v. Wade, it may not be as far-fetched as you might think. Its ubiquitous presence today may be the very catalyst that drives it from our social landscape.
Since the Roe ruling, there have been more than 56 million unborn children aborted in America. Think about that for a moment. In the last four decades, we have killed in the womb enough children to equal the populations of Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Georgia….COMBINED! That is nine times more innocent lives taken than Jews that were killed by Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. That is the equivalent of wiping out the entire population of Italy today.
Today we talk of abortion in politically-correct, sanitized terms like “a woman’s right to choose” and “reproductive rights”. It is considered uncouth to discuss in morbid detail the brutal process that the child endures during an abortion before being tossed out as medical waste. To allow ourselves to consider these things would be gruesome indeed, and difficult to reconcile in a nation where we routinely violate private property rights and shut down major construction projects in order to protect the habitat of some snail or lizard.
In Roe, abortion was granted the status of a constitutional right under the rubric of the right to privacy, holding that abortion was legal up until the fetus was “viable”, which it defined as “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid”, adding that viability was estimated at roughly 28-weeks, but as early as 24-weeks. This ruling was modified in 1992 (Planned Parenthood v. Casey), holding that states should not place an “undue burden” on the mother’s right to an abortion at any point up to viability.
However, technology has made enormous advancements in the four decades since Roe. Today, a fetus in the 24th week of gestation (6 months) has a 39% chance of survival, and that jumps to 50% at the 25th week, and 80% at the 27th week (source: March of Dimes). Every passing week makes it more likely that the child can survive outside the womb, and considering that only 4% of all abortions are performed because the fetus presents a danger to the life of the mother, we see that 96% of all aborted fetuses could have survived had the mother carried the child to term.
The same technology that has done so much to increase viability has also allowed us to peek inside the womb and gain a better understanding of fetal development. Unlike the grainy, blurry ultrasounds that most of us are familiar with, today we have 3-D ultrasound technology which allows us to see the developing child in intricate detail, and even 4-D technology which presents a moving 3-D image of the child in real-time. We can now see these babies smiling, yawning, and kicking in the womb. It takes a callous heart indeed to gaze upon that growing child and say that it is worthy of violent death simply because it is not wanted by the mother.
It took the War Between the States, the bloodiest war in U.S. history, to impose an end to the evil of slavery upon the slave-holding states of the South. It ripped apart a nation physically, economically, and morally, and it would take many decades before the nation would begin to heal. Likewise, the issue of abortion has led to a harsh divide among many Americans, albeit without the massive bloodshed (of the already-born, anyway). Few issues in America today evoke such passionate and vocal debate from both sides.
But is the end of abortion on the horizon?
Recent polling of Americans shows that they are increasingly clear on the moral standing of abortion. In a Marist poll released this month, 62% said that abortion is morally wrong (although a small percentage still wanted it legal). Gallup, in a poll released in May of last year, showed similar results. Of those Americans polled, nearly 60% stated their belief that abortion should be illegal in all (20%), or legal in only a few (38%), circumstances. This same poll showed a sharp increase since 1995 of Americans self-identifying as “pro-life” (33% in 1995 to 48% now) and a sharp decrease in those claiming to be “pro-choice” (56% in 1995 to 45% now).
Even the most vocal abortion rights advocates seem to see the writing on the wall. Nancy Keenan, former head of NARAL Pro-Choice, America’s oldest abortion rights advocacy group, stepped down last year, lamenting an “intensity gap” among millenials (those born between 1980 and 1991) in favor of those who are pro-life. Various restrictions upon abortion are becoming increasingly popular among Americans as well, and state legislatures are increasingly successful in passing those restrictions. Just weeks ago Time Magazine bemoaned the fact that the pro-abortion crowd is losing the war for the hearts and minds of America.
Some of the most vocal opposition to abortion comes from those who have been most closely tied to the movement in the past. Both Norma McCovey (“Roe” in Roe v. Wade) and Sandra Cano (“Doe” in Doe v. Bolton) are among the nation’s most vocal critics of abortion. Cano, testifying in 2005 before the U.S. Senate, stated that she never wanted to be involved in the abortion fight, and only sought a divorce and custody of her children, but “cunning, wicked lawyers” used her, an “uneducated, defenseless pregnant woman” to pursue their abortion agenda. Likewise, Abby Johnson, former director of Planned Parenthood, started off with the organization with a desire to help women in need. Yet after eight years she fled from it, having discovered that abortion “was a product Planned Parenthood was selling, not an unfortunate necessity that they fought to decrease.” Planned Parenthood receives hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year to fund abortions and, despite their claims that abortion is only a small fraction of what they do, the proof is found in their own Annual Report, which revealed that 91% of all women “served” by Planned Parenthood had an abortion (329,445 abortions versus 31,098 prenatal services performed, and only 841 adoptions).
Two centuries ago, blacks were sold into slavery because they were considered sub-human and not worthy of the same rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that whites enjoyed. They were bought and sold as commodities, to be treated as the owner saw fit. Few Americans at the time gave much thought to the morality of slavery. It was simply a fact of life.
Today, we are told by the pro-abortion crowd that an unborn child is not a person, and therefore a mother’s right to an abortion supersedes the baby’s right to life. Yet technology now shows us that not only are these unborn children alive, but that they respond to changes in their environment, they smile, they sleep, they play. It is impossible to deny they are alive and recognizable as developing humans even from the earliest weeks, so now we are simply debating the time frame at which we justify, under the patina of legitimacy provided by the law, the killing of these beautiful creatures.
Knowledge has a way of changing hearts and minds. Nearly two centuries ago Americans began the slow process of acknowledging the inherent humanity and worth of black people. Today we fight the same battle for human life and dignity, only this time for the unborn. Today, more than at any time since Roe, Americans are choosing life.