Mary Szoch is Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. Joy Zavalick is Research Assistant of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Daily Signal on November 30, 2021.
Only six nations in the world allow abortion on demand through nine months of pregnancy. Among those six are countries guilty of placing religious minorities in concentration camps, starving their own people, imprisoning political opponents, and offering people with disabilities an option for assisted suicide but not for care—and, the United States.
A case that will be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court this week, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has the potential to change that.
In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, an abortion clinic in Mississippi is challenging a 2018 state law that banned abortions after 15 weeks. If the Supreme Court finds that abortion bans prior to fetal viability are constitutional, Roe v. Wade, which has prevented states from legislating on abortion, will no longer be the law of the land.
As the beacon of hope for those “yearning to breathe free,” it is shameful that the United States joins human rights offenders North Korea, China, Vietnam, and Canada, as well as South Korea. These are America’s abortion-policy peers who also allow a doctor to abort a woman’s child right up until the moment of birth.
In the 191 other countries across the map—regardless of the political system—the right to life for the unborn looks much different.
Around the globe, 77 nations outlaw abortion completely or only allow abortion where the woman’s physical health is at risk. Perhaps more surprisingly, 94% of countries (186) have national restrictions on abortion in the second trimester. Except in cases of rape, incest, fetal anomaly, or economic hardship, 56 countries—including 48 of 51 European countries—ban abortion after 14 weeks.
It is important to note that because of the exception allowing abortion of unborn babies with a fetal anomaly through 40 weeks, the population of people with Down syndrome in Europe has decreased by 27%. With no restriction on the gestational age at which an abortion can be performed, America is a clear outlier.
The nations that restrict abortion in the first trimester do so in recognition of the fact that an unborn child is a human being. Poland’s abortion law acknowledges “that life is a fundamental right of a human being.” Andorra’s Constitution “recognizes the right to life and fully protects it in its different phases.” And the Maltase Constitution states, “every person in Malta is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual … namely … life, liberty, the enjoyment of property and the protection of the law.”
These countries do not weigh the interest of the unborn child as greater than that of the mother. They merely strive, as the Philippines does, to “equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.”
Among the few nations that have taken on more progressive abortion laws in recent years, the United States is still an outlier. In 2020, Argentina legalized elective abortion through the first 14 weeks of pregnancy—or 10 weeks earlier in gestation than the viability standard in the U.S.allows for states to restrict abortion.
Ireland legalized abortion through the first trimester—three weeks earlier in gestation than Mississippi is attempting to restrict abortion in the Dobbs case.
Mexico’s recent decriminalization of abortion has given states the jurisdiction to create their own restrictions on abortion legality—a right that American states have been fighting for since seven men on the Supreme Court stole their autonomy in 1973.
As the world waits for the court to determine the future of abortion in the U.S., it offers Americans an opportunity to reconsider vital questions: What is an abortion? And why does almost every nation who values human rights restrict it?
Current U.S. abortion law rests in the outdated scientific knowledge accessible to doctors and the Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago when Justice Harry Blackmun wrote, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”
The medical advances in ultrasound, the fetal doppler, and the ability to operate on babies in the womb continuously verify that the unborn child in the womb is—as countries around the world acknowledge—a human being.
While the women of China and North Korea, whose oppressive regimes use abortion as a form of torture, have had the atrocity of abortion through birth thrust upon them, here in the United States, the culture has voluntarily taken up the mantle of manipulating women into killing their children. If this seems farfetched, just look at the number of women arguing they would never have reached their education level, career goals, or even marital status without abortion.
The time for ignorance has come and gone. The United States must stop allowing the killing of an unborn child in the womb.