Women at war with late-term abortion

Antiabortion activists march during the annual March for Life rally in Washington. The march coincides with Supreme Court’s landmark Roe … Continued


Antiabortion activists march during the annual March for Life rally in Washington. The march coincides with Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized access to abortion.Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images

The Left made great hay in the media last year with the purported conservative “war on women.” I guess women who care about babies didn’t know conservatives were out to get them.

That is a viable interpretation of new data showing that more American women than men believe in ending late-term abortions. According to the Washington Post:

What are we to make of the polling showing, according to further Post analysis, that “71 percent of women would seem to support the effort to increase abortion restrictions”?

What has caused this swing in opinion, and why have the dogmatic, angrily uncompromising advocates of elective abortion on demand lost ground? One is the human conscience: Like it or not, we are stamped with a moral code, as intrinsic to the soul as DNA is to the body. “The work of the law,” writes the Apostle Paul, “is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Romans 2:15).

We can only repress our consciences so much. Earlier in his letter to the churches in Rome, Paul tells us that “men suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (1:17). The Greek word used for “suppress” means to quash, hold down, or incarcerate. The idea can be expressed this way: A Jack-in-the-Box is suppressed within its container. After a few turns of the handle, Jack bursts out, smile frozen in place, and no longer suppressed.

This is what we do with our consciences. We rationalize, ignore, reject, and become apathetic about the rights and wrongs about which our hearts inform us. Yet we cannot eradicate our consciences any more than we can eradicate our genetic code: Without either one, we become what we cannot be: inhuman.

At some point, the conscience pops up, like a coiled toy in a box, striking us with just accusation or just affirmation. We can hold it down only so long.

So it is with abortion: We can pretend the unborn child is merely a collation of blood and flesh only so long, and then the quiet voice of what we cannot un-know pipes up yet again.

That voice is amplified by our sensory capacities. Ultrasounds have changed everything: Looking at a baby forming in the womb, no honest person can deny that she is a person. The womb traditionally has been the safest place for an unborn child. Ensconced in fluid and deriving all her nutrition from her mother, the unborn baby grows cradled with her mother even as she will be cradled by her mother after birth.

Perversely, the facts about dignity of a fetus have long left the pro-abortion movement nearly apoplectic. “It is reprehensible and morally repugnant to use these distorted images to influence women who are making such an important decision on whether or not to go ahead with a pregnancy,” said an indignant Anne Weyman, chief executive of the U.K.’s Family Planning Association.

Consider the terminology of Ms. Weyman’s complaint: Reprehensible and moral repugnance are categories that can only have meaning in the context of right and wrong. That right and wrong exist presupposes that there is a final authority Who declares them such. Does anyone believe this authority is not also the creator of the lives Ms. Weyman is so eager to regard as the disposable effluvia of a night gone wrong?

She also called the images “distorted.” Perhaps she was looking at them without her glasses on. They are not distorted; they are distinct, and thereby devastating to any argument that the unborn child is less than human.

Former abortion clinic worker Joy Davis has written,

One’s conscience and one’s eyes confirm what science also tells us: That the unborn child, from conception onward, has all the same genetic information as every reader of this piece. She is fully human, and has value independent of her mother. She deserves the right to life.

“I formed you in your mother’s womb,” God tells Jeremiah (1:5), and the psalmist reflects on the fact that God “formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (139:13).

The women of our country are understanding as perhaps never before the reality and sacredness of that formation. That’s good news for the unborn, their mothers, and all of America as we continue fighting to defend the right to life.

Rob Schwarzwalder is senior vice president of the Family Research Council.

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  • WashingtonDame

    Beautiful essay, thank you!

  • WmarkW

    Fine. Let’s compromise by saying that abortion is a personal choice up to 20 weeks, and must be medically indicated after that. Almost all elective abortions take place in the first 13 weeks, so this would restrict abortion trivially. If we can agree on that, we can take this no-win issue out of the forefront of politics. If we accept 20 weeks as the cut-off, will you stop with ridiculous laws about having to look at an ultrasound, or state regulations that make operating a clinic prohbitively expensive?

  • FYIColumbiaMD

    During my wife’s first pregnancy, she developed severe complications. We were fortunate – she sought medical attention immediately. Over the course of 12 hours, her condition rapidly deteriorated. The hospital attempted to induce delivery – but she was not far enough along. We again were fortunate – the hospital performed an emergency C-section and my wife gave birth to a strapping 3 lb 3 oz boy that will be a high school senior this year. While the C-section was not without risk given her condition, the possibility of a viable birth was a risk my wife was willing to assume.

    Had the fetus not been viable – what then? Should my wife have been barred by the state from receiving an abortion even at the risk of her life?

    The existence of right and wrong does not as you state presuppose a ‘final authority’ – and it most certainly does not imply the Judeo-Christian mythos that you cite (which is horribly immoral). Your attempt to put the lives of others at risk by using the power of the state to limit individual freedom is no less reprehensible than those you chide for ‘a night gone wrong’.

  • jarandeh

    If I could, I’d ‘like’ this insightful comment 100 times.

  • Catken1

    This. Late-term abortions are among the most necessary and defensible abortions, because they are only allowed for the life or health of the mother, or when the baby is too damaged to survive for long outside the womb.

  • Catken1

    Of course, it would be nice if the “pro-life – as long as that life is supported by someone else’s work, pain, effort, resources and risk and not mine” sort would stop denying that pregnant women are people, too. When one person is wholly dependent on another’s body and body parts for their life, the donor human must give consent, which can be withdrawn at any time.
    You preach about women who “care about babies” (as if those who believed that the gift of life is a gift to be given by a free woman and not a duty to be extracted from a slave somehow “don’t care about babies”), and who see the humanity of a fetus – but you’re perfectly willing to treat those women as things, as incubators to be used, without any concern for the cost to them or for their wishes.
    Any decent moral code does not treat adult women as things, does not demand the co-optation of one person’s body for the good of another against that person’s will, and does not insist that a woman’s humanity, value as a person, and rights over her own most intimate body disappear the moment she conceives a child.

  • DanaB1

    An even higher percentage of elective abortions would take place in that first 13 weeks if the religious right would stop trying to make it so difficult to get an abortion by passing ultrasound laws and waiting period requirements, closing clinics over crap like the height of their counters, harassing and terrorizing doctors, nurses and other staff at family planning clinics to the point that many give up and refuse to offer abortions in fear of their or their family’s safety and lives, trying to defund Planned Parenthood…etc., etc., etc.

  • Hildy J

    If the anti-abortion movement would clearly state that they feel that late term abortions should be available from all hospitals (including ones run by churches) in defined circumstances (at a minimum the life of the mother) then I’d have more sympathy for them.

    Make no mistake, however. The anti-abortion movement is what it says – against all abortions at all times in any form and they even go beyond that to protest things like the Plan B pill. A number in the movement will go after birth control if they get their way on abortion.

  • cricket44

    Oh, Rob. First of all, an opinion piece about abortion from a male member of a hate group is not something to be taken seriously. Secondly, those polls are meaningless until it can be proven that every participant is aware of the facts about late term abortions and not the anti-choice lies. I notice how you gloss over the pesky woman around the fetus. Remember her?

  • anabelle23

    It’s NOT about abortion it is about a woman’s right to chose. and ONLY that woman’s right to choose. No one else’s.

  • RC SoPJC

    No, I will not compromise. The waiting periods and ultrasounds have contributed to more women changing their minds and keeping their yet-to-be-born babies. The more stringent regulations on the clinics will make it safer for the women electing to proceed with the abortions.

  • DanaB1

    “The waiting periods and ultrasounds have contributed to more women changing their minds and keeping their yet-to-be-born babies.”

    They’ve also caused a lot of unnecessary heartache and hardship to women who already knew they wanted/needed to have an abortion, including women who were having abortions of wanted pregnancies because of medical issues. Can you provide evidence that such requirements have changed enough minds to outweigh the hardship they’ve caused, even given an assumption that society had a right to cause that hardship for any reason?

    “The more stringent regulations on the clinics will make it safer for the women electing to proceed with the abortions.”

    Not if they can’t get to a clinic to have a safe abortion because your “stringent regulations” closed them all down, which is, of course, the purpose of those regulations. They will find a way to do it anyway without having to get to a clinic, the nearest one of which may now be 200 miles away, which I guarantee will be far less safe than the clinics operating now which you’re so worried about.

  • DanaB1

    Should have said “can’t get to a *legitimate* clinic.” Because we all know, in the absence of the law-abiding clinic operators who will shut down under your TRAP laws, there will be a Kermit Gosnell who will defy the law and offer women abortions under what really are unsafe conditions, at least until he’s discovered after having killed a few women.

    Oh, wait, that’s what you claim to be trying to prevent, isn’t it?

  • Catken1

    OK, RC. Then we will not compromise on your rights. If an innocent child needs your blood, bone marrow, or any other body part of yours, and you don’t choose to give, you MUST take off work, travel to the one clinic in the state where you can explain your reasons, be forced to watch a tearjerking video explaining just how selfish and murderous you are for wanting to treat your body as your own, and have an intrusive proctal ultrasound done just because we can.
    That will contribute to more children saved, and if it causes you pain and hardship, who cares? You aren’t willing to consider pregnant women as human beings worthy of consideration, worthy of the right to make decisions about their own personal organs, so why should we do that for you?

  • Hopeliz57

    Most of the strident comments to this story are sad. They clearly show that people have hardened their consciences in order to believe that abortion is a good thing, no matter what. They no longer entertain any ambivalence about the enormity of taking a human life; they pretend there is no moral issue at stake at all. So sad, so disheartening.

  • MoralPilgrim

    Remember the bitter legacy of the Romanian despotic Ceausescu who outlawed contraception and abortion? Know anything about the unrelieved, grinding poverty of orphans living in the streets? Think it can’t happen in the U.S.? Perhaps you’re not paying attention to the Christian right’s legislative actions, personally delivered by the GOP.

  • DanaB1

    I don’t know many people who believe abortion is “a good thing, no matter what.” What most pro-choice people believe is a good thing is for women to be able to make that choice for themselves, regardless of what we think of that choice. We fully understand the enormity of the decision involved in whether to have an abortion or not, and the moral complexity of it; that’s why we believe nobody has the right to make it but the woman herself: not you, not me, and certainly not the government.