In addition to the other 58 million reasons, that is
I was going to call this little article “Après Roe, le Déluge” because the Supreme Court’s atrocious decision in Roe v. Wade precipitated an ongoing bloodbath eclipsing the death tolls of iconic despots like Stalin, Hitler and Mao Zedong. But the flood that Louis XV predicted in his comment “Après moi, le déluge” — the French Revolution and Reign of Terror — was not such a big deal as bloodbaths go. Lasting less than a year, “the Terror” resulted in fewer total deaths than are committed every week by abortion providers in the US. Plus, abortion-on-request has now been "legal" for 42 years and counting.
So I’ll just stick with the top 10 things Planned Parenthood does not want you to know: (1) Nearly 58 million children have died from abortion since 1973. (2) Women who’ve aborted have an 81 percent greater risk of mental health problems and a three-fold risk of suicide compared to women who have not had an abortion. (3) Abortions can result in physical complications and maternal death. (4) Later-born children have a higher risk of preterm birth, resulting in disability and death. (5) The relationship between men and women has changed for the worse. (6) Instead of proposing marriage, many men leave the mother of their child with only tough choices. (7) With recreational sex the new paradigm, society is over-sexualized and entertainment borders on the pornographic. (8) Few US babies are available for adoption, leaving infertile couples to spend huge sums for overseas adoption. (9) Unborn lives are so cheapened that we’re now creating and destroying them to harvest their stem cells. (10) Roe undermined the American system of government and our founding principles, making the will of nine Justices, rather than the Constitution, the supreme law of the land. Let me explain further.
1. Roe is responsible for a staggering loss of life. The unborn are not “potential life” as the Court said. They are children with potential to bring love, joy, creativity, solutions, goodness and the image of God into the world. Nearly 58 million boys and girls have lost their lives in abortion since Roe. The abortion industry has promoted abortion as a “women’s rights” issue, hoping we’ll “Pay no attention to that [little girl or boy] behind the curtain.” But unborn children are not background “extras” in the story of mom’s life. They are subjects in their own right, equal in dignity to every other human being. To give some context to the number of abortion deaths, imagine if every man, woman and child living in the six New England states, plus New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware were to die in a catastrophic meteor strike. That’s how many children have been aborted in the US alone. The US population is currently 319 million. If Ebola were to kill 1 out of every 6 residents in the US, that would be equal to the number of children we’ve aborted.
2. Abortion doesn’t reset the clock to a pre-pregnancy state; it changes a woman from being the mother of a living child to being the mother of a dead child. Planned Parenthood would like to convince the world that abortion empowers women and offers relief from the stress of an unplanned pregnancy, but the relief is short-lived and the regret is forever. Numerous studies have investigated the mental health impact of abortion on women. Up to 60 percent of women who have had abortions suffer mild to severe mental health problems. A 2011 study in the “British Journal of Psychiatry” examined 22 studies published since 1995, involving over 800,000 women. Author Priscilla Coleman, PhD found that women who had abortions had an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems compared to women who hadn’t had an abortion and a 138 percent increased risk of mental health problems compared to women who had given birth. Compared to women who did not have an abortion, post-abortive women had higher rates of anxiety (34 percent higher), depression (37 percent), alcohol use/abuse (110 percent), marijuana use (230 percent) and suicidal behaviors (155 percent). A study of suicides after pregnancy in Finland found that women who aborted were three times more likely to commit suicide in the 12 months following abortion than were women in the general population and six times more likely to commit suicide than women were in the 12 months after giving birth.
3. Even early abortions (before 63 days) can cause physical harm and death to women. About 20 percent of women suffer immediate physical complications after an RU-486 abortion and 5.6 percent suffer immediate physical complications after a surgical abortion — infection, hemorrhage, retained blood clots, torn or perforated uterus and complications from anesthesia. Complications and deaths associated with abortion in the US are largely unreported as abortion-related. But in European countries that keep track of all health data and mortality data, abortion has been found to be associated with far higher risks of death than other pregnancy outcomes. A Danish study found that compared to women “who carried their first pregnancy to term, … the cumulative risk of death for women who had a 1st trimester abortion was significantly higher in all periods examined from 180 days (84%) through 10 years (39%). The risk of death was likewise significantly higher for women who had abortions after 12 weeks from one year (331%) through 10 years (141%) when compared to women who delivered a first pregnancy.” Twelve out of twelve recent studies on the incidence of breast cancer following abortion, demonstrated an average increased risk of breast cancer of almost 554 percent.
4. Later born children have a higher risk of premature birth and all the health risks that entails. The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists (AAPLOG) reports that 137 studies show a link between abortion and preterm birth. In 2006, the Institute of Medicine listed abortion as an “immutable risk factor for preterm birth.” Two meta-analyses with data from 41 studies on abortion and premature birth were published in 2009. After one abortion, the risk of preterm birth (before 37 weeks) increases by 36 percent and risk of very preterm birth (before 32 weeks) increases by 64 percent. After two or more abortions, the increased risk of preterm birth is 96 percent. A McGill University study in 2013 involving nearly 18,000 women found that “women who had one prior induced abortion were 45% more likely to have premature births by 32 weeks, 71% more likely to have premature births by 28 weeks, and 217% more likely to have premature births by 26 weeks.” "Preterm birth contributes to cerebral palsy, lung disease, cognitive impairments and infant mortality. Later children may also face problems if their mom struggles with depression or substance abuse from an abortion."
5. Abortion has altered for the worse the relationship between men and women. As law professor Richard Stith has remarked, pregnancy is now seen as “Her Choice. Her Problem.” Because contraception is viewed as her responsibility and abortion is legally her choice alone, many men have abdicated responsibility for supporting and caring for the children they sire and for the mother of those children. Roe gave them permission to remain immature, irresponsible, untrustworthy, even predatory, thus making it all the harder for women to find men who are mature, responsible and trustworthy. See, for example, Barbara Defoe Whitehead, “Why There Are No Good Men Left” (2003), Kay Hymowitz, “Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys” (2011) and Hanna Rosin, “The End of Men” (2012). There are now more single adults over the age of 16 (50.2 percent) than married adults, whereas in 1960, over 72 percent of adults were married.
6. Because abortion allows men to walk away, women are left with the choices of single parenthood, adoption or abortion. Single parent families deprive children of fathers and stability. They result in educational, emotional,and social deficits of every type, starting with poverty. Single-parent families are
four times more likely to be low-income than married-couple families. Risks to children raised by a parent who is cohabiting are summarized in this article.
7. With sex decoupled from marriage and the responsibility owed a spouse and children, we have become a sex-obsessed country. Pornography, entertainment media and magazines promote fornication. Two-thirds of young adult men view pornography at least once week. Viewing pornography undermines one’s ability to sustain an intimate relationship with a partner, makes marriage seem confining and less desirable, and it can become addictive. But don’t take my word for it, read this.
8. In the 1960s, an estimated two million unwed mothers surrendered their babies for adoption. More recently, however, infertile childless couples are likely to be on a long waiting list to adopt a shrinking number of US infants. The US “Department of Health and Human Services estimates that only 14,000 infants were ‘voluntarily’ surrendered in 2003.“ As a result, many couples have paid exorbitant sums to adopt kids from overseas. But international adoptions have plummeted since 2004 due mainly to restrictions imposed by foreign governments. In 2004, there were 22,991 international adoptions by US couples. In 2013, there were only 7,092.
9. IVF, destructive embryo research and embryonic stem cell research have wide support, despite the loss of human life involved, because Roe denied fundamental human rights to human embryos and fetuses. If a doctor is allowed to cut off and remove parts of a viable unborn child weeks before birth (and then sell the child’s organs to researchers), one can hardly complain when researchers manipulate and destroy week-old human embryos and harvest their stem cells for (highly speculative) research.
10. The Roe decision undermined the American system of government (federalism and the separation of powers) and its founding principles — the sanctity of life, the equal dignity of all and impartial justice — making the will of nine Justices, rather than the Constitution, the supreme law of the land. The decision represents an abdication of the government’s duty to defend the vulnerable and innocent. It goes without saying that there is no "privacy right to abortion" in the Constitution. Although a former president of Planned Parenthood, Gloria Feldt, spoke of Roe as securing for women "the basic human right to make their own childbearing choices [read abort a child] — a right as intrinsic as the right to breathe and to walk, to work and to think, to speak our truths, to thrive, to learn, and to love" few would agree that being able to abort a child is as necessary and intrinsic as breathing, thinking and speaking. Six justices of the Supreme Court (White, Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy and O’Connor) have stated that Roe is not grounded in the Constitution. Virtually every constitutional scholar who has written an article or book on Roe has strongly criticized the decision. Yale Law School Professor John Hart Ely, for example, wrote that "Roe is bad because it is bad constitutional law, or rather because it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be." The Court intentionally ignored the undisputed scientific evidence that a new human life comes into being at conception, stating "We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins." And rather than attempting to base its decision on a constitutional principle, the Court instead describes the hardships of "maternity, or additional offspring" which "may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. … Mental and physical health may be taxed by childcare. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it." But these pretexts apply equally to already born children to the age of 18. Does that not justify abortion through the 54th trimester? And one doesn’t have to be a "person" to enjoy the protection of the law. We punish people who abuse animals and, in Florida, men have been fined and jailed for removing a sea turtle egg from its nest, whether or not the unhatched sea turtle is viable or even deceased at the time it was moved.
And that’s why we must continue to (1) pass laws restricting the Roe abortion license, (2) educate the public on the reality of abortion and the harm it causes women, children, men and society, (3) reach more women to help them choose life-affirming alternatives to abortion, (4) vote wisely for pro-life candidates, with special attention to U.S. Senators and a President who’d be disposed to nominate and confirm the necessary 5th vote on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe and, above all, (5) pray daily for pregnant women at risk and their vulnerable unborn children, for all those who minister to them in pregnancy resource centers, for women and men who are suffering in the aftermath of abortion, for everyone involved in the abortion industry and for wise and good public servants.
is a senior writer for Aleteia’s English-language edition.