In an attempt to gain more public support, in the 1970s, Christian evangelicals re-branded their anti-abortion efforts as “pro-life.” In other words, if you supported a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy or even to use contraceptives, you were against life – the equivalent of a murderer.
Unfortunately, it worked.
It seems that, each year, “Pro-Lifers” have succeeded in finding new ways to undermine Roe v. Wade. They have portrayed Planned Parenthood as an abortion mill, even though abortions represent a tiny portion of its activities and even though, in some areas, Planned Parenthood is the only source of health care for underprivileged women.
But to truly understand the effects of the “Pro-Life” movement, one must look at the consequences. First, doctors, nurses and other clinic workers have been threatened and murdered by “Pro-Life” extremists. Almost all of them have had their homes and vehicles vandalized and their privacy invaded.
In addition, one must understand that, for some women, being forced to carry a baby to full term is life-threatening. One must realize that being forced to have an unwanted baby can literally destroy a woman’s opportunity to finish her education, to improve her life economically, and to improve the lives of the children she may already have. One must also understand that to follow some of the new “Pro-Life” laws are impractical and even scientifically impossible.
If we return to the days before Roe v Wade and before contraception was readily available, many more women will become pregnant. The poor will, once again, resort to more dangerous ways to end their pregnancies, including coat hangers, acids, falls and suicides. But, of course, the rich will merely travel to countries where abortions are legal. Or they’ll convince their family doctors to describe the procedure as a D&C.
Many of the women who carry unwanted children to term will place their children up for adoption – a system already at its limits. At any given time, roughly 120,000 kids in the US are up for adoption and, as sex education, contraception and abortion become less accessible, that number is certain to grow. So, too, will the number of children with major disabilities who will be placed up for adoption. The children who are not immediately adopted are placed in the foster system. That may seem like a reasonable outcome. But according to census data from 2011, there were 47,885 children in foster care. Many stay in the system until they “age out.”
It’s worth noting that 50 per cent of the nation’s homeless and 80 percent of our prison population have come through the foster care system. So, obviously, our entire society is impacted by unwanted and unloved children. And, if the “Pro-Life” extremists get their way, many more children will end up in the system!