Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (84), January 28, 1988

Abortion Oppresses Women

In one of Regina’s Cole’s recent columns, she examines the ramifications of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing abortion. She expresses concern for its correlative part in a “general decay of family structure,” but in the end maintains that abortion is strictly a woman’s sole and private choice. Mrs. Cole also said that Roe v. Wade “did not endorse or condone abortions.

Certainly she wrestles with the whole question, and related concerns, in an open fashion, seeking to strike a balance. Mrs. Cole does not come across as pro-abortion as it were, but then again her position doe snot strike any balance either.

First, the Roe v. Wade decision cannot be interpreted other than legal permission for human abortion. Ir condoned it, pure and simple. Whereas then Chief Justice Warren Burger, in a consenting opinion, said that the decision was not tantamount to “abortion on demand,” he radically expressed otherwise in his final opinion of dissent in the recent Thornburgh ruling. In Thornburgh he expressed the strongest reservations about Roe v. Wade, calling for its re-examination by the Court. He knew that the annual rate of human abortion in the U.S. skyrocketed from 150,000 or less before the first states legalized in the late 1960s, to over one and a half million in the mid-eighties (according to the statistics of the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta). Roe v. Wade, through judicial fiat, rewrote Constitutional law and opened the gates wide to abortion on demand. Even Dr. Irvin Cushner, a pro-abortion physician testifying before Congress a decade ago, said that 98% of all abortions are indeed arbitrary.

Second, the “pro-choice” advocates have never made themselves accountable to the reality that abortion kills nascent human beings. It kills them at the early stages of life through which we have all come. This is not a matter of privacy any more than 18th and 19th century slave owners who considered slaves private property (chattel) — that they could do with them as they pleased. The argument for abortion as a privacy issue only reflects the “emotivism” Alasdair MacIntyre describes in his book, After Virtue, and what Robert Bellah et al. describe in Habits of the Heart as untethered individualism which threatens a still fragile experiment in democracy. There are many issues of genuine privacy, but not the killing of nascent human beings.

Finally, abortion not only exploits the unborn, but it exploits women. Later this year U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop will publish a report on “post-abortion syndrome,” adding to a growing literature on how abortion destroys the lives of many women who undergo it. Abortion remains, not an avenue of freedom and dignity for women, but a means of male chauvinism, where men get women pregnant and flee the responsibilities of fatherhood in the majority of instances. Mrs. Cole describes many of abortion’s results, but will not go to the root. Certainly courage and compassion can do better.

John C. Rankin, New England Christian Action Council, 11 Pleasant St.