Changing Attitudes Concerning Abortion

Wayne Jackson
Americans’ views on abortion seem to be shifting, according to recent polling data.

According to a recent issue of U.S. News & World Report (March 1, 1999), Faye Wattleton, former head of Planned Parenthood, was “crushed” when she learned that America’s views on abortion are shifting, apparently toward a more conservative posture.

In an article titled, “The Joy of Sexual Values,” senior writer John Leo says that Wattleton’s new group, the Center for Gender Equality, found that fifty-three percent of American women think abortion should be permitted only under special circumstances, e.g., in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother’s life. Only twenty-eight percent favored unrestricted abortions, and some seventy percent say that more restrictions are needed.

When UCLA conducted its national survey designed to gauge the attitudes of college freshmen, it discovered that support for legal abortions dropped for the sixth straight year. Over the past nine years, backing for abortions has dipped some fourteen percent.

Those who regard human life as sacred are delighted to see this transition in thinking. May the day be hastened when the notorious Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973 is reversed.

We continue to be troubled, though, that many who view themselves as “pro-life” advocates are willing to make exceptions, justifying abortions in cases of rape and incest. Their position simply is not logical.

Consider the following points.

If the fetus within a woman’s womb is a human being, to take his or her life is murder. If the fetus is not a human person, why should anyone oppose abortion under any circumstance? The manner of conception is irrelevant. Is a child a child, regardless of by whom the conception was initiated? Of course it is.

Let us think about the matter from this vantage point. Suppose a woman is raped and, as a consequence, becomes pregnant (though such occurrences are extremely rare). Let us also assume, for the sake of the argument, that for some reason she carries the baby full term and gives birth. Let us take it a step further and suppose that she nurtures the baby for a couple of years. Finally, she visits a psychiatrist and confides that though she has tried to love this child, the memories of her rape have made her a mental wreck; she can no longer bear to be in the youngster’s presence.

Here is the key question. May she now, with impunity, kill her offspring? Universally, the cry will be, “No!” But why not? If rape is a justification for destroying the child before birth, why not after birth as well?

Does logic confuse some of our leaders? If abortion is a moral act, there should be no restrictions. If abortion is an immoral act, concessions may not be made to accommodate “circumstances.”

The conception of children, by either rape or incest, is a tragedy. But one does not correct a wrong with a wrong. Somehow, though, in the abortion controversy, two wrongs are supposed to constitute a right! This ideology is utter nonsense.

This is not at all difficult to understand. The problem is that politicians, and others of significant influence (including a host of clergymen), are simply too spineless to take a strong and consistent stand on this volatile issue. When common sense and moral conviction melt in the face of politics, we are in a sorry state of affairs.

It is wonderful that attitudes toward abortion are moving in a more conservative direction. However, we have light years yet to traverse.