Family Research Council

Women at war with late-term abortion

By Rob Schwarzwalder Senior Vice-President


Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Vice President at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Washington Post on August 8, 2013.


The Left made great hay in the media last year with the purported conservative "war on women." I guess women who care about babies didn't know conservatives were out to get them.

That is a viable interpretation of new data showing that more American women than men believe in ending late-term abortions. According to the Washington Post:

A new Quinnipiac poll shows 60 percent of women prefer allowing unrestricted abortions for only the first 20 weeks of pregnancy rather than the Supreme Court-prescribed 24 weeks. Among men, 50 percent support the 20-week law - a 10-point gap. A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed the gap at seven points, while two other polls (from NBC/Wall Street Journal and National Journal) showed it at six and four, respectively.

What are we to make of the polling showing, according to further Post analysis, that "71 percent of women would seem to support the effort to increase abortion restrictions"?

What has caused this swing in opinion, and why have the dogmatic, angrily uncompromising advocates of elective abortion on demand lost ground? One is the human conscience: Like it or not, we are stamped with a moral code, as intrinsic to the soul as DNA is to the body. "The work of the law," writes the Apostle Paul, "is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them" (Romans 2:15).

We can only repress our consciences so much. Earlier in his letter to the churches in Rome, Paul tells us that "men suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (1:17). The Greek word used for "suppress" means to quash, hold down, or incarcerate. The idea can be expressed this way: A Jack-in-the-Box is suppressed within its container. After a few turns of the handle, Jack bursts out, smile frozen in place, and no longer suppressed.

This is what we do with our consciences. We rationalize, ignore, reject, and become apathetic about the rights and wrongs about which our hearts inform us. Yet we cannot eradicate our consciences any more than we can eradicate our genetic code: Without either one, we become what we cannot be: inhuman.

At some point, the conscience pops up, like a coiled toy in a box, striking us with just accusation or just affirmation. We can hold it down only so long.

So it is with abortion: We can pretend the unborn child is merely a collation of blood and flesh only so long, and then the quiet voice of what we cannot un-know pipes up yet again.

That voice is amplified by our sensory capacities. Ultrasounds have changed everything: Looking at a baby forming in the womb, no honest person can deny that she is a person. The womb traditionally has been the safest place for an unborn child. Ensconced in fluid and deriving all her nutrition from her mother, the unborn baby grows cradled with her mother even as she will be cradled by her mother after birth.

Perversely, the facts about dignity of a fetus have long left the pro-abortion movement nearly apoplectic. "It is reprehensible and morally repugnant to use these distorted images to influence women who are making such an important decision on whether or not to go ahead with a pregnancy," said an indignant Anne Weyman, chief executive of the U.K.'s Family Planning Association.

Consider the terminology of Ms. Weyman's complaint: Reprehensible and moral repugnance are categories that can only have meaning in the context of right and wrong. That right and wrong exist presupposes that there is a final authority Who declares them such. Does anyone believe this authority is not also the creator of the lives Ms. Weyman is so eager to regard as the disposable effluvia of a night gone wrong?

She also called the images "distorted." Perhaps she was looking at them without her glasses on. They are not distorted; they are distinct, and thereby devastating to any argument that the unborn child is less than human.

Former abortion clinic worker Joy Davis has written,

If the patient ever saw the ultrasound, they could see a baby. It would be sucking its thumb, most of the time, or moving its hands, or whatever, and it was a very cute thing to see, on the ultrasound. And so, as a rule, (the clinic doctor) would always tell us to keep that screen turned away from the patient and never let them see it. So I just took it on myself to start showing them the pictures, and most everyone I showed the picture got up and walked out, and changed her mind.

One's conscience and one's eyes confirm what science also tells us: That the unborn child, from conception onward, has all the same genetic information as every reader of this piece. She is fully human, and has value independent of her mother. She deserves the right to life.

"I formed you in your mother's womb," God tells Jeremiah (1:5), and the psalmist reflects on the fact that God "formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb" (139:13).

The women of our country are understanding as perhaps never before the reality and sacredness of that formation. That's good news for the unborn, their mothers, and all of America as we continue fighting to defend the right to life.