This day in history is a day of glorious demarcation. Through a birth in the backwaters of the Middle East, God became man. And on the day that we celebrate the birth of the most important Baby, it is useful — nay, essential — to reflect on the deaths of so many other babies (about ten in the five minutes it’ll take you to read this column) made in the image and likeness of the Christ-child.
At this time of year, Christians are filled with hope and the knowledge that our existence is made possible by the mystery of the love of God. Pro-lifers similarly feel the deep joy that comes with knowing that no matter how bleak the battle against the abortion culture gets, a victory is achieved every time a child is born who might have been aborted. Pro-lifers have had much to celebrate, and their victories can even be seen in the current struggles.
In Baltimore recently, the city council passed the first legislation in the country that requires crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to post signs outside their buildings that state that they do not provide or refer for abortions. Failure to do so will result in a fine of $150 a day.
The law seems to be a response to CPC’s success in counseling women with crisis pregnancies not to abort their children. CPC’s have been aided by ultrasound imaging, which has been instrumental in revealing the unborn child as a living and sensing person. By giving mothers and fathers an enhanced picture of what — of who — is being destroyed during an abortion, such technology has been perhaps the pro-life cause’s most valuable tool to impede the ever encroaching culture of death.
Studies show that 80 to 90 percent of women who see an ultrasound of their unborn child choose not to abort. The widespread use of ultrasound has been a major reason why abortions have decreased by 25 percent, to 1.2 million in 2005, from an all-time high of 1.6 million in 1990, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute.
Ultrasound is changing hearts and minds, including those of people with deep roots in the abortion culture. Recently, the director of a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Texas had a change of heart and mind after watching an ultrasound video of a child being killed by abortion. “I just thought ‘I can’t do this anymore,’” said Abby Johnson in an interview with a local news network in which she was asked to explain her sudden resignation from her post after eight years. She continued, “It was just like a flash that hit me and I thought ‘that’s it.’”
As more pregnant women turn to CPCs, abortion centers are closing. A new report by Operation Rescue found that 1,500 abortion centers have closed since 1991. And a recently released Harvard study found that the number of Planned Parenthood affiliates has plummeted, from 163 in 1994 to 91 in late 2009.
As the number of abortion facilities has dropped, so has the number of abortionists. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the number of abortion providers decreased from 2,908 in 1982 to 1,787 in 2005. And 87 percent of U.S. counties, including 31 percent of its metropolitan areas, have no abortion availability.
A report last year in the journal Contraception found that 66 percent of physicians performing second-trimester abortions are more than 50 years old. As Susan Hill, president of the National Women’s Health Foundation, told the Washington Post last fall. “Our doctors are graying and are not being replaced. . . . The situation is grave.”
The worst news for the abortion industry are the numerous polls that reveal a significant drop in the share of Americans who consider themselves pro-choice, while a majority of Americans now consider themselves “pro-life.”
Of course, though the number of abortions, abortionists, abortion facilities and abortion supporters has dropped, the abortion rights movement remains undeterred.
As I write, it appears 60 U.S. senators will vote to pass a health care bill that will force all taxpaying Americans to pay for millions of abortions. Polls show that most people, even self-described pro-choice people, do not want to pay for abortions. But on the eve of the celebration of the birth of the most important Baby in history, a majority of members of “the world’s greatest deliberative body” voted to advance the death of countless innocent unborn babies.
Following the birth of Christ, agents of the greatest government the world had ever known tried to kill all the babies of Bethlehem, and we remember the sorrow of “Rachel weeping for her children.” It is not the highest act of government to kill children, or to compel others to do it. Truly great governments make a way for their citizens to live and prosper.
But let’s not end on a sour note. Because America has a history of expanding rights, all but the most radical abortion advocates should acknowledge that history is against them. Most strikingly, America’s youth, the “survivors” of the post-Roe era, are its most pro-life generation.
No matter what happens with the health care bill, the abortion movement is failing because it conflicts with the eternal truth of the value of all human life and with the founding ideas of the American Republic, recorded in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
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