Are Our New Leaders Really Committed to ‘Abortion Reduction’?


As we mark the tragic January 22nd anniversary date of the infamous Roe v. Wade abortion decision, here’s a straight-up take on the “new” political message swirling around some liberal political and religious circles.

We invite you to post your comments!

Do you support commonsense laws like parental consent for minors getting abortions, as in Pennsylvania’s law? Did you know that the federal ‘Freedom of Choice Act’ (FOCA) would overturn PA’s abortion law (and that President Obama promised to sign it)?

* * *

The abortion debate used to be simple. “Pro-life” people opposed abortion and “pro-choice” meant you support abortion rights. So how have we reached the point where many voices, apparently including our new president, claim the best way to reduce abortion is to permit it?

As documented by sociologist Anne Hendershott, this long and unfortunate story of clever marketing and political compromise began in the 1960s when a number of prominent Catholic Democrats, including some in the Kennedy family, were persuaded to drop their opposition to legalizing abortion. The Catholic Church in America, while holding fast to its pro-life policy statements, sometimes overlooked these deviations, either to avoid divisive internal debate or because its leaders felt these Democrats’ other social policies would, on balance, tend to advance the greater good.

Unfortunately, similar political compromise can be said of some within the civil rights community. A prime example is Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was outspokenly pro-life (calling abortion “black genocide”) only to completely reverse his position when he decided to seek the 1984 Democratic Presidential nomination.

It’s no accident that as prominent leaders such as Jesse Jackson emerged as spokesmen, a historical commitment to seeking justice for innocent human life all but disappeared. Again, political support for government social programs trumped opposition to abortion. The result: Sadly, black women are more than five times as likely as white women to have an abortion; an estimated 16 million aborted since 1973 (according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute).

By the 1990s, Bill Clinton’s famous mantra of making abortion “safe, legal, and rare” created a connection between the goals of making abortion available everywhere and less frequently used. Few demanded that Clinton explain how these two apparently contradictory goals were compatible, nor did he make much effort to pursue abortion reduction seriously.

Meanwhile, liberal religious leaders challenged their conservative brethren to quit fighting Roe v. Wade and instead do something “constructive” like supporting government social programs for those in need. Conservatives rightly responded that they are already doing plenty — their nationwide movement of volunteer-based pregnancy care centers has given more practical aid to women in need than any liberal organization or government welfare program.

Fast forward to the 2008 presidential campaign, with another Democrat saying he wants to reduce abortion while promising Planned Parenthood that he would make it a high priority to sign a federal law (the Freedom of Choice Act) that would eliminate all state restrictions on abortion.

Once again, prominent religious leaders—this time two evangelicals with liberal social views — gave him cover. Tony Campolo claims to have played a part in framing the Democratic Party platform’s abortion plank and says it has made the party “committed to abortion reduction.” Jim Wallis of the Washington, D.C. Sojourners community said that “with the right economic and social supports, fewer women will choose abortions. … That’s a more effective way of dealing with the issue than trying to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

Some social supports may indeed cause fewer women to choose abortion. But does that mean we should accept the virtually unlimited access to abortion guaranteed by Roe v. Wade? Is there any logical connection between supporting Roe and reducing abortion?

Regardless of what you think about government social programs, if you truly want to reduce abortions you should support restrictions on abortion, not wipe them out with a “Freedom of Choice Act.”

Michael New, a professor at the University of Alabama, has looked closely at that question. Dr. New notes that 36 states, including Pennsylvania, have parental notification or consent laws that restrict teenagers’ access to abortion. He searched for evidence on the impact of these laws and found that the best case study appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2006.

This peer-reviewed study analyzed the Texas parental-notification law that took effect in 2000. The authors found that the law resulted in statistically significant declines in the abortion rate in Texas among 15-year-olds, 16-year-olds, and 17-year-olds.

Bottom line: Commonsense, pro-life laws — such as Pennsylvania’s Abortion Control Act — help to achieve the public policy goal of reducing the number of abortions. And most Americans seem to agree on this point: less of abortion is in society’s best interest.

If we truly think abortions are tragic and we want to reduce the number, we need more commonsense abortion laws in place, not less. And let’s leave tax-funded government’s health, education and welfare programs to be debated on their own merits.

Thomas J. Shaheen is Vice President for Policy at the Pennsylvania Family Institute, Harrisburg, Pa.

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13 Responses to “Are Our New Leaders Really Committed to ‘Abortion Reduction’?”

  1. Ruth Anne Ford Says:

    I do not support any form of abortion.
    I do not believe Barack Obama will support my views.
    I would like to see Roe V. Wade overturned.

  2. coleen hulse Says:

    write to your state officials, this is murder, and murder is against God’s laws, as well as man’s. let them know we will not be mislead or decieved.

  3. Carol Says:

    I am strictly pro-life – No compromise!!!!!!!!!

  4. Norman King Says:

    I was there with the liberal mentality in the 70’s. I coerced a young woman to have an abortion before Roe v Wade and saw nothing wrong with it. I actually thought I was carefully planning my life. It wasn’t until years later in the 90’s when I received Jesus into my heart that I could see the truth. I have been frustrated too often to count when I encounter people who are like I was. The only cure for this cultures blindness is the same enduring cure that has always been, a new life and a new heart. Until He returns we can only hope to be found faithful full of salt and light.


  5. Joy Says:

    Because I so strongly believe that every life is precious I have adopted 3 special needs children. I know others that would be interested in adopting children too. Please…give each child life.

  6. DK Says:

    Everything that us prolifers have prayed for and have hoped for and have worked for, so far, for so long may be overturned soon, and it is tragic! How could something like this have happened? I feel the sun is setting over our country. You don’t even hear a word a this on the mainstream news. Either they don’t think it’s news or they’re playing their role of taking the side of the Establishment because the Establishment are the ones supporting and sinking money into making abortion a “right”. They want a world all their own, and they want to kill the rest of us off so they can have it all! It’s the New World Order, is it not? In the end, it’s God that has the final say and not them. We have to keep praying and fighting, even if we lose (I doubt it with God there). Better go down fighting than let them get their way. We can’t give up!

  7. charlie Says:

    we have the most radical pro abortion and anti God person in our highest office and in our congress. Its a sad time in the history of our country but God is still God and we must fight and stand up for God’s holy standard’s. If we do God will honor that, if we don’t then we have only ourselves to blame for the downfall of our nation.

  8. Jospeh Bernhard Ph.D. Says:

    Look at the darker issues such as using our tax dollars overseas to pay for abortions and planned parenthood (stopped by Republican presidents and allowed by Democrats), and the heinous practice of late term and partial birth abortions that literally murders a child just before he/she comes into the world. Our new president and vice president (who is catholic apparently in name only) will again allow this barbaric practice. Maybe their next step is to reinstate the practice of allowing babies who survive abortions to be set aside to starve to death as Mr. Obama did in Illinois. This is a very dark time for our country and culture. This is not change we need or should accept as human beings.

  9. Dick Crousey Says:

    One legal abortion is too many. How can it be that my daughter cannot be given an aspirin at school without my permission and yet in some states a school can arrange to provide an abortion without the parent’s notification?

    Is it time for all who are truly opposed to abortion to stop paying federal taxes? If we acted together something would have to change. There’s not room enough to place all of us in jail.

    God help us all! As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord!

  10. Debbie Sulecki Says:

    Can it be that this issue has been debated so much that we have forgotten what is really at stake? A precious, innocent, God-created human being. If President Obama and all “pro-choice” proponents could just pause long enough to remember that what is at stake is a “child” and not an “issue”, perhaps we could begin to see a change.

    All life, in every age or stage, is sacred and has great value in God’s eyes. Any nation who would dare to call itself “great” must first take a good look at what value we place on life and how we honor it. May God open our eyes and hearts . . .

  11. Jill Says:

    I am so deeply saddened by what this date represents. Thirty-five years of rights for women but non for the silent millions who have perished. God can forgive a nation who has turned against Him only if we turn back in repentence. We…I… have become complacent with being coerced into silence. Speaking the truth is what we are called to do. Changing hearts is the job of the Holy Spirit. Pray hard and speak out against the slaughter of countless lives! Pray that eyes will be open and hearts changed through the power of the resurrected Jesus.

  12. Lynne Sheppard Says:

    What happens to common sense? If FOCA is adopted – a minor can get an abortion without parental consent, but cannot get a tatoo!

  13. marilyn cronrath Says:

    Obama is not the President of all Americans! He is a traitor to the most innocent and fragile of our society – the unborn; he is a destroyer of the constitution and has broken his oath to uphold it.

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