Why the President is Wrong on Abortion

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President Obama
 
A few minutes ago, President Obama released a brief statement regarding the anniversary of Roe v. Wade (1973), the Supreme Court decision which dissolved most restrictions on abortion.
 

Statement by the President on Roe v. Wade Anniversary
 
Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health. We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom. And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children. Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

 

Though relatively short, the President’s statement is packed with several confusing assertions. I’d like to respond to some of them:
 

“[W]e recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health.”

It’s true that every woman should have liberty to make decisions regarding her own body, but not the body of another. Modern embryology affirms that a new human life is created at fertilization (i.e., conception.) Therefore abortion intentionally destroys the life, and thus the body, of an innocent human being. We all should have choices, but nobody should have the freedom to murder anyone else.
 

“We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care.”

Everyone agrees that women (and men) deserve safe, affordable healthcare. That’s not the question. The question is whether the restrictions put in place by Roe v. Wade constitute healthcare. Unfortunately, they primarily concern the right of mothers to uninhibitedly take the life of their children. It’s not healthcare to disrupt a healthy and normally functioning process (e.g., pregnancy) nor is it healthcare to destroy the health of unborn babies.
 

“[We reaffirm a woman’s] constitutional right to privacy”

Like many Constitutional rights, the right to privacy is not absolute. In the eyes of the law, what a woman does with her own body in her own environment is her own concern. Yet when her choices threaten the lives of innocent others, the common good trumps her right to privacy. We all intuitively understand this. It’s why we agree that invading drug labs trumps a drug dealer’s right to privacy. The same principle applies here: women have a right to privacy, but not at the expense of innocent lives.
 

“[We reaffirm a woman’s] right to reproductive freedom.”

I agree! Women should be completely free to reproduce however and, with certain qualifications, wherever and with whomever they will. But Roe v. Wade doesn’t concern reproduction at all. It regards what happens *after* reproduction occurs, after a new, unique, individual human has already been produced by his or her parents. I agree we should promote reproductive freedom but not the freedom to terminate any resulting children.
 

“[W]e resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.”

Although there are many ways to achieve this noble goal, the restrictions of Roe v. Wade should not be included. Greater access to abortion *increases* the number of unplanned pregnancies. This is because when abortion is a viable “fall back plan”, more couples have sex even when they’re not ready for a baby. Therefore, promoting abortion increases unintended pregnancies.
 

“[We resolve to] support maternal and child health”

I struggle to see how the Roe v. Wade decision supports child health when it seems that 100% of the children it directly affects are no longer alive.

Yet it doesn’t support maternal health either. By violently disrupting a healthy bodily function, abortion leads to increased depression, cancer, mental illness, future pregnancy complications, and more.

Also, note the President’s chilling word choice here. He didn’t resolve to support women’s health, but specifically “maternal” health. The word maternal connotes motherhood, and you can only be a mother if you have a child. This subtle choice insinuates that the President knows well that pregnant mothers carry children, not some abstract clump of cells, and therefore abortion is not a neutral surgical procedure. It involves a mother intending the death of her child.
 

“[We resolve to] build safe and healthy communities for all our children.”

Again, I struggle to see how the Roe v. Wade decision supports children. Abortion doesn’t result in safe and healthy communities for children. It results in less children.
 

“Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.”

I wholeheartedly agree! And that’s why Roe v. Wade should be overturned. The misguided court decision crushes the rights of unborn citizens for the sake of born citizens. It smashes their freedom and opportunity on the altar of false liberty. Everyone in this country deserves the same rights—men, women, and children—especially the smallest and most vulnerable among us.

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  • Joe Purkart

    you are missing one crucial point. in the eyes of the law a fetus is not a human until it takes its first breath. So, your arguments for an “innocent” life are a moral/philosophical/religious on. Now if you believe that abortion is wrong then by all means don’t do; don’t have be involved with anyone that finds it okay. however if you want to argue it make sure that you know all the laws surrounding it.

  • GW

    I am pro-life, but I have a point of view that, for some
    reason, gets me censored or deleted from web sites such as this one. I posted a Comment describing my point of
    view two nights ago on the Catholic Church facebook page, but my comment was
    deleted. I wish I understood why, but I’ll
    leave it for another discussion.

    My point of view is that we as Catholics have ceased to be
    the conscience of the nation and have sublimated ourselves to the Republican Party. It’s the only explanation for articles such
    as this one; articles that continually repeat pro-life themes while never
    actually proposing real alternatives for people who feel they must get an
    abortion.

    It seems obvious that if abortion were universally outlawed
    tomorrow, the effect would be that wealthy, well-connected, or just plan
    intelligent women would still find doctors who would perform abortions. Poor women would find other, more dangerous
    ways.

    We as Catholics apparently don’t understand why a woman
    would want or feel she needs an abortion, and as a result we’ve never
    articulated other alternatives that include real support. Of course, the woman can give the child up
    for adoption through Catholic Social Services, but there’s no national
    infrastructure where pregnant women can get actual support. The social safety net of this nation has been
    decimated by our elected representatives.
    Our educational system has been starved, and worse: our public school
    teachers and administrators have had their innovative spirit taken away by
    micro-managing ideologues (witness the creationist crowd).

    The solution to the problem of abortion will entail a
    multi-faceted approach, including justice for those who engage in the practice,
    support for pregnant women who need it, and continuing support for those children
    born as a result of the banning of abortion.
    I’m a lifelong Catholic, and I’ve never heard a Catholic leader eschew
    an opportunity to demonize their opposition to advocate for a Catholic way.

    “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren.”

  • TJPaladin

    Brandon – Why are you wrong about this statement ?

    Other than a reference to Roe v Wade the president didn’t even mention the word “abortion” – Are you sure that is what he was talking about ?
    ==
    Statement by the President on Roe v. Wade Anniversary

    ==
    > Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health.
    >
    ===

    Well, since an unborn child is a different body than its mother’s there is nothing to disagree with here.
    Certainly a woman should have a choice about her own body.

    ==
    >We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom.
    >
    ==
    Well certainly we should all have personal privacy.
    And an unborn child is a person. So they should have privacy as well.
    And Abortion isn’t, by definition, reproduction… then this statement obviously has nothing to do with abortion.
    Are you sure that the Pres. was talking about abortion ?

    ==
    > And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children.
    >
    ===

    Again, abortion has nothing to do with preventing pregnancy.
    Nor – in the mind of someone like Pres.. Obama does it have to do with Maternal or Child health.
    So – I still wonder if he was even talking about abortion ?

    Just saying – that maybe you misunderstood what he was talking about….

    — I’ll remove my tongue from my cheek now. —

    TJP

  • karenzainal

    Yes. Not only was the word “abortion” not mentioned even once, President Obama’s statement was just laden with confounding euphemisms.

    It inspired me to write this post on abortion euphemisms: http://karenwriteshere.com/2014/01/23/enough-with-the-endless-abortion-euphemisms/

  • Anthony

    So lets be clear Im not choosing either side so don’t take anything I say personal because in reality it isn’t. I agree with most every point in this article. Part of being human is being spiritual. Without spirituality in your life something is missing from you as a person. But spirituality set aside sometimes there are extenuating circumstances in which what feels right in your heart isnt necessarily the right choice. Of course there is the whole deal with what if the mother was raped or something bad in that nature. But a huge thing that seems to be overlooked is the quality of life the kid being “saved” will have. Just because the child is born it doesn’t garuntee them a happy or fair life. That all depends on circumstance. For example.. The mother is a drug addict and its an unintended pregnancy. The baby already has a high chance of birth defect due to the drugs but once the child is born there probably wont be loving arms there to hold it. Sure there is Foster care but look how that is going. There are too many kids and not enough people to take them in. And sadly not all of the people that take them in are good people. Its an overcrowded and degrading system that offers a very bleak future for the kids involved.And if you go the route of ok parents. You had the kid, you take care of it. Yea the kid avoids foster care but there was a reason the parent or parents wanted to abort it. So do you really think the child is going to have a happy life? Its like taking an accused innocent and throwing them in a lions den and saying “If you survive then your free to live your life”. Its not fair nor morally right. Everyone has a right to be happy and be free to live their lives respectively. And everyone has the right to an opinion. But noone has the right to dictate someonelse’s life wether live or unborn because they feel by their own standards and morals that it should be a certain way. Live your life as honest and best as you can and let other people live their lives

  • Karla

    I understand where most of your points are coming from, even I don’t see the same light, but one comment I feel I must discuss.

    You talk about unwanted pregnancies and how normalizing abortion will increase them. Why do you think this? What literature or statistics say such a thing? Because to me, it’d be the opposite. By legalizing and normalizing abortions we would virtually eliminate illegal/back alley abortions, which is definitely a good thing. So if those people that would have gotten illegal ones now would get legal ones, yes the numbers would show an increase but its statistically the same amount of people doing it; now its just 100% safe (as opposed to the illegal ones I don’t want to get into safety of the fetus/child in this post).

    Also, I highly, *highly* doubt it would raise unprotected sex between partners. No sane woman would go “Ah, yes, they have legalized abortions and it is supported by the community, I will have all the crazy unprotected sex I want now because I can just drive on over to a clinic later!” Because having a partner wear a condom or taking the pill, etc., is so much easier, quicker, less traumatic, cheaper, and painless in comparison to getting an abortion. If they opened up a clinic on the corner of every street I would still make my partner wear a condom every time until we want a child. I am going to give credit to the majority of women and say they would do the same.

    Basically, I just do not think your comment holds water, and I know it is a comment a lot of people make, so this is my argument as to why it is a weak point.

    Thank you for your time!
    -Karla

    • Alexis Boulet

      History absolutely supports that prohibiting or restricting abortions doesn’t prevent them or protect women. The best way to prevent abortions is to empower women so that they feel secure in their ability to provide for themselves and their families.

      • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

        “History absolutely supports that prohibiting or restricting abortions doesn’t prevent them or protect women.”

        Are you suggesting that prohibiting or restricting abortions increases the number of abortion? If so, please provide evidence for this shocking claim.

        “The best way to prevent abortions is to empower women so that they feel secure in their ability to provide for themselves and their families.”

        Without evidence this is mere conjecture. Please provide data proving this claim, otherwise we’ll assume it’s a well-intentioned but baseless opinion.

        • Alexis Boulet

          http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.html
          Here are is are just a few of the facts supported by studies from the WHO and
          other organizations. Please view the link for a more comprehensive understanding of these results.

          ABORTION LAW

          • Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. For example, the abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America—regions in which abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. The rate is 12 per 1,000 in Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds. [1]

          • Where abortion is permitted on broad legal grounds, it is generally safe, and where it is highly restricted, it is typically unsafe. In developing countries, relatively liberal abortion laws are associated with fewer negative health consequences from unsafe abortion than are highly restrictive laws. [2]

          • In South Africa, the annual number of abortion-related deaths fell by 91 % after the liberalization of the abortion law. [2]

          • In Nepal, where abortion was made legal on broad grounds in 2002, it appears that abortion-related complications are on the decline: A recent study in eight districts found that abortion-related complications accounted for 54% of all facility-treated maternal illnesses in 1998, but for only 28% in 2008–2009. [3]

          • Between 1997 and 2008, the grounds on which abortion may be legally performed were broadened in 17 countries: Benin, Bhutan, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guinea, Iran, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Portugal, Saint Lucia, Swaziland, Switzerland, Thailand and Togo. Mexico City and parts of Australia (Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia) also liberalized their abortion laws. In contrast, El Salvador and Nicaragua changed their already restrictive laws to prohibit abortion entirely, while Poland withdrew socioeconomic reasons as a legal ground for abortion.

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

      “You talk about unwanted pregnancies and how normalizing abortion will increase them. Why do you think this? What literature or statistics say such a thing? Because to me, it’d be the opposite. By legalizing and normalizing abortions we would virtually eliminate illegal/back alley abortions, which is definitely a good thing.”

      Karl, thank for the comment! I clearly explained the answer to your question in my article. When abortion is a legal option, couples tend to engage more often in sexual behaviors resulting in pregnancy. They use less contraception, or abstain less often, because abortion is seen as “backup contraception.” Therefore the wider availability of abortion, the higher rate of unplanned pregnancies.

      The second part of your comment misconstrues my point (and the President’s.) Nobody said that legalizing abortion would increase illegal/back alley abortions. We said it would increase unplanned pregnancies, which the President (and most people of good will) are eager to reduce.

  • "There is only one tragedy in the end, not to have been a saint." - Léon Bloy