Abortion issue surrounded by myth By Guest Commentary I apologize for the length of my comments, but I want to share some information and hopefully dispel some of the common myths about abortion.
MYTH: Abortion is rare. Many don�t realize how pervasive abortion is: In our country, one in four pregnancies ends in abortion. There are roughly 1. 4 million abortions per year. (Those statistics are from the Centers for Disease Control.) According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute (the research arm of Planned Parenthood), 43 percent of women under the age of 45 have had an abortion. That is nearly half of all women under the age of 45!
MYTH: Abortion is a constitutional �right.� The �right� to abort (1973 Roe v. Wade) is based on as shaky judicial ground as the �right� to hold slaves was in the 1800s (1857 Dred Scott v. John F.A. Sandford.) Nowhere in the Constitution is the right to abort stated or even implied. In fact, when the Supreme Court heard Roe v. Wade, it surprised everyone � those on both sides of the issue � by completely sidestepping the question of when human life begins and relying upon a perceived right to privacy.
In doing so, it ignored explicit rights listed in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (provided such pursuit does not infringe upon another�s rights.) Further, it ran roughshod over state�s rights, serving a legislative (law-making) function, when its sole purpose is to serve in a judicial (law-interpreting) function.
In 1988, when the U.S. Supreme Court revisited the issue in Webster v. Reproduction Health Services, it admitted that the �life of each human being begins a conception,� but considered that to be a �value judgment,� a philosophical statement with no immediate application to abortion law! That judgment did, however, result in giving back to the states some of the rights that had been wiped away with Roe v. Wade: States could require parental consent, could require waiting periods, could require informed consent, as long as states did not impose an �undue burden� upon a woman seeking an abortion.
MYTH: Abortion is a �choice� with minimal after-effects. It is actually a �non-choice� � something a woman feels she has to do rather than pro-actively chooses to do. Society ignores or casually dismisses the emotional and physical harm of abortion. Abortion survivors (women who have undergone abortion) often find that later, when they have other children, they are haunted by the realization that the baby they aborted was their own child.
They imagine what their lost child might have been like at the ages of their live children. Many suffer profound grief and remorse. They sense others are not willing or able to help them. In fact, many find that when they share their feelings of remorse, they often hear callous replies such as �Well, why did you have the abortion if you didn�t want it?� But the concept of �choice� is a sham if a woman doesn�t have the necessary support to continue her pregnancy!
Those who�ve faced unplanned pregnancies know how immensely emotional and heart-wrenching the decision can be especially when the woman feels pressured by external circumstances to have an abortion. What women often don�t realize, however, is that they can end a pregnancy, but they cannot erase it. Abortion survivors may rationalize that the choice was the right one for them at the time. And they may need to rationalize to continue with their lives.
We need to be extremely sympathetic to abortion survivors regardless of how we feel about abortion. But the question society needs to grapple with is why did the woman feel abortion was the right decision at the time: Was it so she could continue school or work? Because she didn�t have enough money? Because her parents or boyfriend wanted her to? Those are reasons that spring from a society that does not support women nor value motherhood.
MYTH: A woman who becomes pregnant as a result of rape or incest obviously would want to end the pregnancy. Actually, just the opposite is true: Many women feel that carrying the pregnancy to term, whether or not they keep the child, is a means of healing. According to a study done by Dr. Sandra Mahkorn of pregnant rape victims, a remarkable 75 to 85 percent chose against abortion! This correlates with the results of a study of 164 pregnant rape victims by Dr. David Reardon in which he found that 73 percent chose to not abort. They realize the child is not responsible for the manner in which he or she was conceived and they see the very real possibility of something good coming from something intended for evil. They sense that by carrying the pregnancy to term they actually rise above th rape.
As Dr. Mahkorn observes, �Giving birth, especially when conception was not desired, is a totally selfless act, a generous act, a display of courage, strength, and honor. It is proof that she is better than the rapist. While he was selfish, she can be generous. While he destroyed, she can nurture.�
In fact, women who have been sexually assaulted are at a greater risk of feeling traumatized by an abortion. They see gross similarities between the rape and the abortion procedure � the lack of control, the invasion of their bodies � they often report sensing that the abortion felt like a sort of medical rape.
MYTH: Feminists are naturally pro-choice. Contrary to what many may think, the early feminists were overwhelmingly pro-life. In fact, a number of women left the mainstream feminist movement in the �70s when it began to link �abortion rights� with �women�s rights.� The early feminists realized the threat abortion posed to women and their children.
At the core of the issue is the reality that a �successful� abortion is always fatal to at least one of the humans involved. But does �human� equal �person�? I believe it does, and I believe that any attempt to argue otherwise is extremely dangerous.
Whenever we, as a society, attempt to strip the label of �person� from a fellow member of humanity, it is almost always with the intent of doing harm.