Family Research Council

March for Life marks 40 years of abortion law

By Jessica Prol


Jessica Prol is Managing Editor for Policy Publications at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Washington Times on January 25, 2013.


Her name is Naomi, and she has not yet been born. If mom and dad have guessed correctly, she is about 28 weeks old. The pregnancy growth trackers suggest that Naomi is the size of an eggplant, beginning to breathe on her own, and capable of sucking her own toes.

Naomi's parents are 18 years old, and they met at a prom for homeless teens. After a tumultuous relationship, homelessness and cross-country hitchhiking, mother, father and unborn child ended up at my dinner table, just a few days after Christmas.

Naomi's little life, it seems, is off to a rocky start. It is unplanned, "crisis" pregnancies like these that frequently end at an abortion clinic. Forty years ago, however, ending this pregnancy would have been illegal in most parts of the country.

On Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that a "right to privacy" under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment permitted a woman to abort her child. Intensely private decisions have produced tragic, public consequences: As of now, 55 million American citizens were never born.

In a speech titled, "The Morality of Birth Control," Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger made the case that lives like Naomi's should be avoided: "Many are diseased, feeble-minded, and are of the pauper element dependent entirely upon the normal and fit members of society for their support. There is no doubt in the minds of all thinking people that the procreation of this group should be stopped."

To be fair, Sanger did not advocate for abortion as a means of birth control, but the Planned Parenthood she founded now concentrates its abortion centers in our cities. In 2011 alone, Planned Parenthood clinics aborted a child every 94 seconds. According to its 2012 annual report, Planned Parenthood also accepted $542 million in federal, state and local grants, while raking in $53.8 million in revenue over expenses.

Advocates for "reproductive freedom" have championed "safe, legal and rare" abortions. Yet with more than 1 million abortions in the United States annually, it is hardly rare.

It is also hardly safe. In some cases, legal abortion has cost women their lives and their fertility. The recent documentary, "3801 Lancaster," tells the horrific story of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who sits in prison awaiting trial. According to the grand jury report, the doctor "regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy - and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors." He also stands accused of overdosing his patients, spreading venereal disease with infected instruments, perforating wombs and - on at least two occasions - causing patients' deaths.

More frequently, the mother walks away from the procedure, seemingly unscathed. It appears that only one life is lost; but in the days and months that follow, the mother often faces unexpected grief and guilt about her choice. Texas clinic director Abby Johnson worked for Planned Parenthood because she wanted to help women. Her book, "Unplanned," reveals her unanticipated grief and guilt about her work: "As I took the ultrasound probe in hand, I could not have imagined how the next ten minutes [helping perform an abortion] would shake the foundation of my values and change the course of my life."

In an open letter to clinic workers, Ms. Johnson recalls, "I thought I was doing the right thing. I defended what I was doing. I believed in what I was doing. I was a true advocate of 'choice.'" She continues, "Abortion is something that affects many people. Yes, it affects the woman; but it also affects the man involved, the extended family, and of course, the child growing in her womb."

If abortion is undeniably common and hardly safe, one begins to wonder if it should be legal.

Little Naomi's name means "beautiful, pleasant, delightful." While she already has a name, her life is still at risk. Thousands of people will be marching on the Mall today to stand up for her life, because you can't just terminate the beautiful and pleasant.