Abortion is America’s most frequently performed surgery on women. The Guttmacher Institute, a polling agency for the abortion industry, reports that four out of every ten pregnancies are ended by abortion.(i) In 2011 there were 1.06 million reported abortions in the United States, down 13 percent from 1.21 million in 2008.[ii] The Guttmacher Institute also reports that “Globally, 25% of pregnancies ended in abortion in 2010–2014.”[iii]
Virtually every family, at some level, has been touched by abortion.
The stakes in this issue are extraordinarily high. If the pro-choice position is correct, the freedom to choose abortion is a basic civil right. If the pro-life position is correct, human casualties from the 2,904 surgical abortions occurring every day in America (not even counting chemical abortions) total more than all lives lost in the September 11, 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center.
A 2011 Gallup poll indicated 27 percent of Americans say they are very strongly pro-choice, while 22 percent say they are very strongly pro-life. Taken together, that means 49 percent of Americans hold a strong view on abortion, either for or against.[iv] The other 51 percent are not as firm in their opinions. However, even these “uncertain” people mostly believe that “abortion is morally wrong,” and 39 percent of them favor restrictions in all but a select few circumstances. Worldwide, a majority of people in 26 nations of 40 surveyed said that abortion was “morally objectionable.”[v]
Pro-Lifers and Pro-Choicers Can Find Common Ground
Many of us have seen what happens when those who have strong opinions one way or the other try to discuss the abortion issue. Sometimes the discussions are rational and productive. Sometimes they rapidly become heated and accusatory. This issue divides people not only on the streets and in workplaces, but also in homes and churches. So, while abortion is difficult to talk about, it’s important to provide accurate information and a context in which that information can be discussed.
Are the interactions between pro-choicers and pro-lifers destined to be dialogues of the deaf? Or can they actually meet on common ground? I believe there’s at least a threefold common ground.
First, there’s the common ground of empirical data—of scientific and psychological evidence that we need not and should not deny. Second, we share the ability (if we’re able to let go of prejudices) to be logical and rational in applying this truth. Third, though it’s not as large or solid as it was even two decades ago, most people still share a common ground of morality and some sense of justice, fairness, and compassion.
A Challenge to My Pro-Choice (and Pro-Life) Readers
If you’re pro-choice and reading this article series, then good for you. I hope this means you have an open mind. If the pro-life side proves to be as senseless and irrational as you may have been led to believe, fine, you can give it the firsthand rejection it deserves. But if it proves to be sensible, then I encourage you to rethink your position.
I don’t ask anyone to accept the pro-life position without thinking. On the contrary, I ask readers to look at the evidence and weigh it on its own merit. Set aside stereotypes of the pro-life position. Be intellectually honest and resist the temptation to be politically correct by holding to the pro-choice position even if it turns out that the evidence contradicts it.
If you’re one of the 50 percent who are on the fence, with mixed feelings, I ask you to make these articles part of your quest for truth. You can hear the pro-choice position anywhere—just turn on the TV or read the news. But unless you read or listen to other viewpoints more widely than most people, these articles may be your only opportunity to examine the pro-life position.
If you are pro-life, I also ask you to think through your position. It isn’t good enough to say, “I know I’m right, but I’m not sure why.” We should base our beliefs on the evidence. If we’re wrong on any point, by all means let’s revise our position. If we’re right, we need to learn how to intelligently and graciously inform others.
If abortion does not kill children, the pro-life mentality is worse than a nuisance—it’s a serious threat to women’s rights and personal liberty, and it’s responsible for imposing a baseless guilt on those who’ve had abortions.
On the other hand, if abortion does kill children, the pro-choice mentality is responsible for the deaths of over a million innocent people each year, nearly as many as the combined total of Americans who have died in all wars in our history.[vi] It would mean that since Roe v. Wade in 1973, over 58 million children have lost their lives through abortion.[vii] It’s also largely to blame for the feelings of guilt, depression, despair, and even suicidal tendencies that many women have experienced despite being assured that abortion is in their best interests. Clearly, this isn’t a case where “it doesn’t make a difference who’s right and who’s wrong.”
One thing is certain: If abortion really does kill children and harm women, then there’s too much at stake to remain silent and do nothing.
[i] Guttmacher Institute, “Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States,” March 2016, https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states.
[iii] Guttmacher Institute, “Induced Abortion Worldwide,” May 2016, https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/facts-induced-abortion-worldwide.
[iv] Lydia Saad, “Americans Still Split along ‘Pro-Choice,’ ‘Pro-Life’ Lines,” Gallup Politics, May 23, 2011, http://www.gallup.com/poll/147734/Americans-Split-Along-Pro-Choice-Pro-Life-Lines.aspx.
[v] Pew Center Research, “Global Views on Morality: Abortion,” April 15, 2014, http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/04/15/global-morality/table/abortion/.
[vi] Megan Crigger and Laura Santhanam, “How many Americans have died in U.S. wars?,” PBS Newshour, May 24, 2015, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/many-americans-died-u-s-wars/.
[vii] National Right to Life, “The State of Abortion in the United States, 2016,” January 2016, http://www.nrlc.org/uploads/communications/stateofabortion2016.pdf.