Abortion on the Decline in the U.S.
Time magazine looked at abortion in the United States 40 years after the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 in an article “What Choice?” by Kate Pickert earlier this year.
Since Roe v. Wade, more than 50 million legal abortions have been performed in the U.S. And nearly 1 in 3 American women will undergo an abortion by age 45, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights group. However, the Institute notes the abortion rate among women aged 15 to 44 has declined from about 30 per 1 000 women in 1981 to about 20 per 1 000 in 2008.
Medical advances have helped the pro-life cause. For example, prenatal ultrasounds became common in the 1980s, allowing people to view babies in the womb and some children born at 24 weeks after conception can now survive. Cultural norms about unwed motherhood have also changed since Roe v. Wade.
Today there are fewer doctors willing to perform abortions: the number of abortion providers fell from 2 908 in 1982 to 1 793 in 2008. Four states—North Dakota, South Dakota, Mississippi and Arkansas—have only one surgical-abortion clinic each reports Ms. Pickert.
Another factor is state regulations on abortion, of which a record 92 were passed in 24 states in 2011. States determine who can access abortion services and under what circumstances. In 1992, the Supreme Court’s decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey upheld Roe v. Wade but ruled states can regulate abortion, provided that the regulations do not impose an “undue burden” on women.
In North Dakota, for example, women must wait 24 hours between booking an appointment and coming to the clinic, where they go through counselling, verification and testing. Minors must get permission from one or both parents, depending on who has custody, or from a judge.
Independent abortion clinics, where the majority of abortions are performed, are more easily closed by means of state regulations such as requirements for doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals or for clinics to comply with architectural zoning regulations for hospitals. Since these state-based clinic laws promote women’s safety, rallying support against them is difficult. Further, we would add the atrocities at abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s clinic point to the need for regular inspections of these clinics.
Notre Dame University law professor Carter Snead said in an interview in 2010:
“Also the voices of the pro-life movement are younger, there are many younger women heading the movement, and their arguments go to both the well-being of the mother and unborn child. By contrast, the abortion rights movement has been highly visible in opposition to very popular measures, including bans on intact dilation and partial birth abortions, parental involvement, enhanced informed consent provisions for women seeking abortions and the like. I think since the late 1990s, pro-lifers have seemed more reasonable in tone and substance”. 1
A sizeable number of Americans support many of these pro-life measures. As pro-choice activist Frances Kissling pointed out, many Americans are uncomfortable with the pro-choice position that “abortion should be legal, a private matter between a woman and her doctor, with no restriction or regulation beyond what is absolutely necessary to protect the woman’s health.” For example, 79 percent of pro-choice Americans think third-trimester abortions should be illegal and 60 percent support 24-hour waiting periods and parental consent for minors, according to Gallup data. Polls have also shown that more Americans call themselves ‘pro-life” than “pro-choice”.
The findings of a Pew Research Centre poll released at the time of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade showed that 63% don’t want Roe completely overturned. Pro-life people acknowledge that they still have a long way to go but nonetheless their efforts have saved lives.
Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe of the Roe v. Wade case became pro-life. McCorvey later admitted that she had not been raped as she had claimed at the time. Norma McCorvey gave birth to her child.
The legacy of Roe v. Wade is undeniably a tragic one.50 million or more unborn children killed by abortion is a horrific loss of life. 40 years of Roe v. wade is 40 years too many.
1.Valpy, Michael. The abortion issue comes back to life. Globe and Mail, Saturday, March 26, 2010.