Civility Starts In The Womb

Thirty-eight years ago Saturday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Wade decision. With its companion case Doe v. Bolton, Roe ushered in an era of abortion virtually on demand.

The stain of abortion has sunk deep into the fabric of our nation. It is hard to imagine that anyone in America can remain untouched by abortion. One third of American women have an abortion at some point in their lives. Of women who abort, more than half will abort again.

The Guttmacher Institute recently released abortion statistics for 2008. There were 1.21 million abortions performed that year, roughly the same number as were performed the last year Guttmacher compiled statistics, in 2005.

As the number of abortion providers and students training to perform abortions decrease, and even as the share of Americans who call themselves pro-life has climbed above 50 percent for the first time in decades, the abortion rate seems to have leveled off.

On a brighter note, the number of abortions peaked in 1990, at 1.61 million, before dropping 25 percent, to 1.21 million, in 2005. That decrease can be attributed in part to an increase in state laws that require informed consent for women seeking abortions and more parental involvement in minor girls’ abortions, as well as the great work of the more than 4,000 pregnancy resource centers, which offer pregnant women a life-affirming alternative to destroying their own children.

But pregnancy centers are increasingly under attack from abortion groups that seem more interested in their bottom line than in providing women with the knowledge they need to make informed reproductive decisions. Last year, a number of cities and counties passed laws limiting the free speech rights of pro-life clinics.

The love and care that women find at pregnancy resource centers contrasts with the production line mentality of many abortion facilities.

There seem to be two main types of people who become abortionists. There are the abortion ideologues, for whom abortion is an absolute good. They live their ghastly ideology with every suctioned brain, dismembered body and injured mother.

Then there are the doctors who are too incompetent to practice real medicine. Kermit Gosnell seems to have been among the latter group. Last week the Philadelphia abortionist, his wife and eight other suspects were arrested following a grand jury investigation. Gosnell faces eight counts of murder, for a woman who died after a botched abortion and seven babies who, prosecutors allege, were born alive following illegal late-term abortions.

Gosnell has faced more than 40 lawsuits over the years, and a number of other women have died under his “care.” His case is a stark reminder that abortion is scandalously unregulated in America. Let’s hope this travesty prompts tighter oversight of what is one of the most common surgical procedures.

More women are choosing not to have their abortions at abortion facilities. RU-486, the abortion pill, has caused more than one million abortions since it was approved for general use in 2000.

A procedure introduced last year allows doctors to dispense the abortion pill to abortion-seeking women in remote places, via a computer, a click of the mouse and a modified cash register. These videoconferences are known as “telemedicine” and are becoming an important tactic for the abortion industry to sell abortions to women in areas of the country without abortionists.

But there are signs of hope. Last year saw growth in the number of pro-life laws passed across the country. Thirty nine pro-life laws were passed in various state legislatures, including a number of laws that require that women seeking abortion be informed about the link between abortion and breast cancer and the link between abortion and subsequent mental stress.

A Nebraska law banned abortion after 20 weeks gestation based on evidence that babies can feel pain that early in the pregnancy. Other new laws include parental involvement laws, restrictions of abortion coverage under health insurance exchanges and conscience protections for health care professionals who wish not to be involved in abortion.

Nancy Northrup, president of the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, called the volume of legislation “an avalanche.”

Another avalanche may be headed the abortion industry’s way in 2011. The number of states with both pro-life governors and legislatures rose from 10 in 2010 to 15 today. And the U.S. House of Representatives led by the militantly pro-abortion Nancy Pelosi is thankfully now in pro-life hands.

Last week, after voting to repeal Obamacare, House Republicans took aim at the provisions in the law that call for taxpayer funding of abortion. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act codifies to Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal agencies from paying for abortions.

There has been a lot of chatter recently about the need for a more civilized and less divisive political debate. I’m all for that. But if our political rhetoric has become unusually uncivil and divisive it’s partly because of how divided our country remains over some of our most important issues.

Those include budget deficits and marginal tax rates. But they also include the fundamental issue of whether unborn children are “persons.” I believe no one can deny that they are, and thus they deserve all the protections of our constitutional republic – including the right to life.