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January 18, 2003
Column #1,116

Nothing to Celebrate on This 30th Anniversary

     There is nothing to celebrate on the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. It has transformed America for the worse.

     In 1973, Larry Lader, the founder of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) predicted: "The abortion revolution should usher in an era when every child will be wanted, loved and properly cared for, when the incidence of infanticides and battered children should be sharply reduced."

     Certainly, those were my sentiments at the time. It was a reasonable hypothesis. If women were not forced to bear unwanted children, a higher percentage of children born would be loved.

     But what is the reality? There has been a 20-fold increase in battered children! It has soared from 2 cases per 1,000 children in 1972 to more than 40 per 1,000 children according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

     And the infant death rate has doubled from 4.3 to 9.1 per 100,000 residents.

     "Abortion was supposed to lead to fewer teen pregnancies. However, it only made pre-marital sex more common by making it seem safer, and changing the options when pregnancy occurred," writes Kristen Panico of the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life (NOEL). 

     "In 1962, babies born to single mothers accounted for only 5 percent of all births. That rate has risen to 33 percent of all births...By making motherhood a `choice' for women, abortion made fatherhood a `choice' for men. Men could say, `You chose to have the child. I didn't want it. If you didn't want the responsibility, you should have had an abortion.'"

     In the past, if a woman became pregnant with a man she loved, the honorable man would marry her. And the marriages were happy and lasted. Since 1970 the marriage rate has plummeted 39 percent. Even so, the divorce rate has doubled. 

     The flood of 40 million abortions has made Americans more callous and more devaluing of life in other respects. Oregon has legalized assisted suicide and some frail, elderly people are being prodded by their own children and HMOs to kill themselves to "save money." 

     Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that even the horrific partial-birth procedure, in which fully-developed babies are murdered as they are being born - is legal.

    However, there is good news. 

     First, the number of abortions has fallen from a peak of 1.6 million in 1990 to 1.3 million in 2001. More importantly, "the abortion rate has dropped to 21.3 per 1,000 women of child-bearing age, the lowest rate since 1974," says Wanda Franz, President of National Right to Life. 

     Second, public attitudes toward abortion have shifted. In 1995 Gallup reported that 56 percent of Americans identified themselves as "pro-choice" while only 33 percent were "pro-life." That 23 point margin has disappeared as 46 percent are now pro-choice and 46 percent, pro-life.

     Third, this shift has registered politically. In nine closely contested Senate races in which a pro-life Republican faced a pro-choice Democrat, 41 percent said the abortion issue affected their vote. Of those, the pro-life candidate got a 7 point margin, which gave the race narrowly to Republicans in Georgia, Minnesota and Missouri.

     Although Republicans now control the Senate, it still has a 53-47 margin supporting Roe v. Wade. Even so, several bills that passed the House last year and died in the Senate, are likely to become law. Gruesome partial birth abortions will probably become illegal. But that will save only 5,000 babies a year. 

     The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act should pass that protects Catholic hospitals from being forced to perform abortions. 

     Half of the states now require that a parent be informed that a daughter under age 18 wants an abortion. However, thousands of men who impregnated a minor in such a state as Pennsylvania, now transport them across a state line for an abortion in New Jersey. Why? They are protecting themselves from being prosecuted for statutory rape. 

     Congress should pass a Child Custody Protection Act to make that illegal.  

     Each of these proposed bills, if passed, will do little to reduce the number of women who kill the life within them. However, they will restore a measure of increased respect for life.

     Hopefully, they will accelerate a trend toward chastity which can be seen in America's teenagers. The percentage of sexually active high school students has fallen 10 percent in the last decade. 

     Can teens inspire more women in their twenties and thirties to refrain from sex outside of marriage?

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