Roe v Wade and women’s rights


EMILY’s List, which works toward getting pro-choice Democratic women elected to office, is telling its supporters that the Republican Congress is poised to pass laws to restrict access to abortion or to reproductive care. In an urgent e-mail, Emily’s List wrote: “If this community doesn’t speak out, women could lose the rights we’ve fought so hard to win.” Forty-two years after the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, we have yet to convince people that access to abortion isn’t an issue of women’s rights. We need to make a more compelling case that abortion diminishes a woman’s life — and the life of our society — by extinguishing a separate life within her.

Women choose abortion for a myriad of reasons and a competitive, technology driven society that accepts nothing less than perfection stokes the decision-making process. Guttmacher Institute identifies more selfless motives: “The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life.” They have concerns for or responsibilities toward other individuals, they can’t afford a baby, having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents. They don’t want to be single parents or are having problems with their husband/partner. (July 2014)

Overall, the abortion rate in the U.S. has declined: 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 2011 — compared with 29.3 per 1,000 in 1981 according to Guttmacher Institute. In Iowa, 11 percent of pregnancies ended in induced abortions in 2011.

But there’s not much room for encouragement. Early medication abortions are on the rise in the United States. Guttmacher Institute reports an estimated 239,400 early medication abortions performed in 2011, representing 23 percent of all nonhospital abortions. Taking pills to end an unborn child’s life speaks sadly to what we have become: a disposable society.


Our task is to put the focus on the value of two miracles of God’s creation: mother and child. A thoughtful article in America magazine (Jan. 19-26, 2015) titled: “The Feminist Case Against Abortion” offers some powerful advice.

“We should start by addressing the needs of women,” writes Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life of America. “As pro-life employers and educators, we must examine our own policies and practices in our own communities, workplaces, colleges and universities.” Foster says we have to “ramp up our efforts to systemically address the unmet needs of struggling parents, birthparents and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.” And women who choose to give their babies up for adoption must receive our unconditional support.

A sense of awe, mystery and blessing from God in the creation of new life is another aspect we need to convey. Research professor Gilbert Meilaender writes in Commonweal: “A humility that receives children as blessings given to us rather than products made by us may deepen our capacity to see in others, whatever their talents or capacities, a dignity equal to our own. After all, we have not made them; we have simply received them as those who mysteriously have a share in our own being.” (“The Future of Baby-Making,” Jan. 23, 2015)

Barb Arland-Fye

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