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April 21, 2004


Donald R. McClarey

There are many different ways to fight against abortion. One way you do not fight against abortion is by supporting a candidate for president who runs ads touting how he will defend to the death legal abortion. That is akin to fighting anti-semitism in Weimar Germany while voting for the Nazis.

Patrick Sweeney

Oh! I get it now: it's like when a bank robber passes a note that reads "fill this bag with money or I will kill you" is merely indicating that the bank has a supply or money and the robber has a demand.

What you thought was a crime was in reality an economic transaction.


It is just unbelievable the rationalizations some people will come up with to justify voting for a guy with a conscience so darkened that he supports partial birth abortion and opposes the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Ono is shocked -- shocked! -- when somebody objects to calling that position "pro-life."

I wonder what he thinks the abortion rate was like during the Great Depression, or during the 2,000 years of Christian history before Roe v. Wade when people were much more desparately poor than they are now and there were no programs for single moms or day care or whatever.

I'm still waiting for the day when one of these "personally opposed" politicians says, "You know, I'm personally opposed to hoarding all your money and not giving it to the poor, but I can't impose my personal morality or my religious views on others by raising their taxes to fund welfare."



like it or not, there is an economic transaction involved here, just as there was in the days of legal slavery. The fact that it involves a human life is repugnant, but one must be able to see the problem clearly in order to combat it.

In fact, as I recall, the Missouri Compromise of 1850 prevented any new States from being slaveholding States. That was a start, but of course we still had the bloodiest war in American history ten years on.

I find myself wondering if the current culture was will play out in a similar fashion. Will the opponents of abortion eventually find it necessary to conduct a "John Brown" campaign against abortionists and those who work in the murder mills? It's surprisingly easy to make a moral case that one is saving lives by snuffing out a few others, and even that one has a moral imperative to do so; but we currently abjure such extreme measures. Frankly I doubt this scenario because no legitimate moral or religious authority endorses it.

Similarly, if Roe v. Wade is overturned and the States are allowed to make their own laws regarding this hideous procedure, will the supporters of abortion organize perverted "freedom rides" into the South to protest our lack of legalized Slaughter-of-the-Innocents? Would they receive the same (or a harsher) reception than the real "Freedom Riders" of the civil rights era? When you get down to it, the right to live is the most basic of civil or human rights. Those who deny it to 1.5 million human beings a year are sodden with the blood of their iniquity. And before anybody asks, no, I am not without sin, but supporting and sanctioning murder isn't among my sins -- even the murder of abortionists.

So what will the outcome be? I don't despair, but as Gollum would say, "We wondersss, yesss, we wonderssss."

Maclin Horton

Ono's reasoning is valid up to a point. That point is the failure to recognize that the real driving force for the late '60s / early '70s push for the legalization of abortion, and the driving force for the more determined elements within the pro-abortion movement today (the "promote and fight to the death" brigades which Amy mentions), was and is the sexual revolution. I believe this is a very provable point, although it would take some work to document it. In the meantime, two observations:

(1) I was there. I'm a 55-year-old ex-hippie. I know what the radicals of the '60s said among themselves and I know how we thought. You can take my word for it or not, but this is true: Cultural radicals then and now believe that a free life is impossible without sexual liberation and that sexual liberation is impossible unless the possibility of pregnancy can be removed. Abortion is the absolutely essential birth control of last resort. These people are not lying (that is, not consciously speaking falsehood) when they say they believe women cannot be free unless abortion is unconditionally available.

(2) Does anyone really believe pop musicians and movie stars--the vanguard of both propaganda and practice for the sexual revolution--take part in marches like this because they're concerned with "wage inequity" etc.? Gimme that proverbial break.

There could be some common ground between those who believe as Ono does and those of us who support legal restriction or prohibition of abortion. But the Kerrys et.al. do not really believe as Ono does; rather, they have thrown in their lot with the revolutionists, and that's why they won't cooperate in any measure whatsoever that would have the effect of discouraging abortion.


Peace, all.

Most of all, what is needed is a ratcheting down of the rhetoric on the issue. Realize, friends, that rationalization is a human privilege, not a leftist one. I've read Kr Ekeh's commentary, and I see nothing to suggest He Is The Enemy. A pro-lifer with different tactics: no more, no less.

The suggestion that armed violence and anger can clothe the expression and politicking of a life issue reveals just how far we are from a solution. If Mr Ekeh is supporting the Weimar regime, then we're all citizens of that republic, sad to say. For too many people at both extremes, the icons of life and choice have been replaced by the demigod of The Cause.

Franklin Jennings

Actually, Todd, I think he was accused by analogy of supporting the Nazis, during the Weimar Regime. Nothing Wrong with being part of the Wiemar Republic, as long as you are fighting to keep control of it away from the Party of Death.


The basic issue, Todd, is why constantly demean those committed to making abortion less available via the political process? If you're pro-life, why? Ono and others are continually "reminding" us of the many ways to be pro-life (as I say, DUH, to those actually involved in pro-life activities), but seems to me that in the process all they do is play the game of inferring that those who are involved in political/legal action are somehow less prolife than they. Which makes no sense.


In Ono Ekeh's case, Todd, "rationalization" is a kind of falsehood, and that's not a privilege, it's a sin and, when done in the name of the faith, a scandal. I never said anything about it being peculiar to leftists -- for me at least, and for many people I know who believe "The Cause" of protecting the unborn baby who will die in the next 20 second is the most pressing political issue there is, it has nothing to do with partisanship or left-right anything. I've written columns praising pro-life Democrats. I grew up one and might be one still if I felt it was a tenable position. There's the retired union guy who wrote me a letter once after a column I wrote explaining that as a Catholic, he felt like he couldn't vote Democrat because of abortion but felt like he was slitting his own throat pulling the lever for Republcans. I wish like you can't imagine that both parties were chomping at the bit for my vote.

In fact, it's Mr. Ekeh who makes it a partisan issue, by couching his terms in left-right and misrepresenting the views of conservatives.

This matters. Presidents appoint judges, who like or or not are the oligarchs who really run this country. Presidents set policy for foreign aid and for the vast executive bureaucracy. Presidents use the biggest bully pulpit in the world to frame issues. Presidents sign or veto legislation. Presidents make a difference on abortion.

If somebody doesn't feel comfortable supporting Bush, I can respect that. But for somebody to actively support Kerry, with his morally monstrous views, and then call it a good, Catholic, pro-life choice -- that's nuts.


Peace, all.

I'm not convinced some of you are not rationalizing over Mr Ekeh yourselves. Amy asks, " ... why constantly demean those committed to making abortion less available via the political process?" and I have to wonder. Ekeh demeans no one. His commentary suggests more than one approach is possible. That's a debatable point, certainly, but he's not in any way suggesting his is the only way. In fact, he's had to defend his position more than he's tried to impose it on others. You can't say that about Deal "Headhunter" Hudson. I would ask why some pro-life persons, possibly including you, Amy, take such offense at another way. For the record, I think the Kerry way is a very bad way, but otherwise, Ekeh brings some good points to the table. If you feel he's strong-arming St Blog's, why not just walk away? If anyone's behaved meanly, it's Hudson.

Kyle, if we felt as strongly as you do about the issue, the only moral choice would be to quit all our day jobs and ride the anti-abortion train. Anything else would be a mortal sin.


I don't get how the "demand" and "supply" sides of abortion have to be either/or. If you have a killer disease on your hands, something that results in 1.5 million deaths a year, you'd work towards both prevention and cure.

But, as Cardinal Newman wrote, "men go by their sympathies, not by arguments". Trying to win over pro-choice Catholics can't be done with reason.


It's necessary to remember as well the strong element of social Darwinism in the Democratic Party's abortion dogma. Recall the last Roman Catholic politician to run on a national ticket: Geraldine Ferraro defended taxpayer subsidy of the killing of unborn children by arguing that "it's cheaper to do that than to put them through the system." That mindset, that owes so much to Margaret Sanger and her views on eugenics, still has a home in the party that ran the Jim Crow regime.

T. Marzen

Ono’s valid point is lost in political fog. Both carrots AND sticks are important in trying to discourage one form of behavior (abortion) and encouraging its alternative (childbirth). He’s right to suggest that throwing people (here, doctors and women) in jail may not always be the only or best way to discourage bad behavior and that prolifers often seem solely obsessed in the political realm with “making abortion illegal” (i.e., criminal) without regard to other, non-criminal public policy initiatives.

But the sticks/carrots are not usually exclusive methods of using the law, and, most important, Ono does not describe what a true “carrots” approach would look like. It would be something like this. Women who bear children would be PROVIDED special welfare, social, educational, and benefits, while women who abort would be DENIED these benefits. Childbirth services would be subsidized; abortion services would be severely taxed to benefit women and families who give birth. Women (and the their husbands) with children would be given many more legal advantages in the workplace and in the tax system. The public schools and government funded media programs would encourage childbirth and condemn abortion as much as they now condemn tobacco use and unsafe sex. I could go on and on. The list of possibilities in using (non-criminal) social and economic incentives to discourage abortion and encourage childbirth is virtually as endless as our tax and welfare codes.

Now, Ono, would your boy Kerry and his ilk really support a genuine program to encourage such a non-criminal program to encourage childbirth over abortion? Who knows, if comprehensive enough, it actually might work better than a criminal law standing alone in light the relative ease of performing abortion and difficulties in enforcing the criminal law against it! NOT A CHANCE. Ask yourself: Why is that?

Steve Skojec

As I was making my way through this post, a FedEx package came for one of the employees here. I put it on her desk, and noticed she was reading a .PDF flyer for an "interfaith service" to be held before the "March for Women's Lives." My heart sunk. This woman is by far the kindest person to me in this office, and we've become friends in the month or so I've been temping here. I dragged my feet back to the front desk, sat down, found her a link to one of the sites that promotes awareness of how abortion hurts women, and e-mailed it to her.

She came up here about five minutes ago, visibly uncomfortable and a bit put off. She gave me the usual line - "I don't like abortion and don't think women should have to do it - but if they need to, they should be able to." She then informed me that although she planned to participate in the March, she was also sending her donation today - she had it in hand - to a pro-life pregnancy center.

I asked her if she saw it as a life-and-death issue. She kind of skirted that. I told her that I'm not looking at this from within a vacuum, that I have a close friend who went through this - under the worst of circumstances - and forever feels as though she murdered her own child.

"I could never look at it like that." She responded. I saw conflict in her eyes, but she was convinced.

"I'm on both sides of the issue. I guess that makes me a hypocrite." She walked back to her desk.

I don't know how we can ever address this problem without at least the recognition that a fetus is a person. Some feminists, like Natalie Wolf, recognize this. They still think women have the right to kill their babies, but at least they are intellectually honest enough to look it square in the face and see it for what it is.

But the majority of people do everything within their power not to see that. The human mind is a marvelous thing, and so self-destructive at times.

I don't know how to reach them. I want these people to know I am not judging them, but the cultural wall that exists - the inability to breach the gap and actually talk about it with honesty and respect - that's not there. I can do that with other matters of the faith. But especially as a man, they just look at me like I'm from another planet. I know they can see the truth.

I just don't know how to get it to them.


Peace Todd,

Do you actually believe your own rhetoric or are you just messin' with us?

You seem to have an odd fascination with defending intellectually weak arguments, while at the same time claiming to be personally opposed to them. It's almost as if you want to pick a fight with everyone but you are unwilling to define and defend where YOU actually stand. I get the impression you're the type of guy who likes to throw a lot of punches as long as there's no chance you'll get hit back. The blogging world undoubtedly provides a fertile environment for your cowardice to blossom.

Tom Harmon

The other thing we should be asking Mr. Ekeh is: Have abortions gone up or down since post-Roe v. Wade liberals have begun pursuing Ekeh's plan: "if social conditions were changed so that women were empowered, and if we effectively addressed issues such as health care, child care, family leave, wage inequity, domestic violence and other women’s issues." Abortions up since '73, or down? This is not a hard answer. All of the issues he describes have been liberalized significantly.

Up, or down?


Peace, Poppi.

I'm struck by your approach, and I thank you for underscoring my point about the universality of rhetoric. I've made my own position clear on my blog -- so if you want to discuss mu position, go there. I've been clear elsewhere, even here. I think some pro-lifers and some pro-choice folks don't like my positions, but I've taken hits from both ends on it. It doesn't bother me much. As Pat Benatar used to say ...

The blogging world provides a fertile environment for a lot of things, my friend. I don't need to return your compliment.

Tom Harmon

The other thing we should be asking Mr. Ekeh is: Have abortions gone up or down since post-Roe v. Wade liberals have begun pursuing Ekeh's plan: "if social conditions were changed so that women were empowered, and if we effectively addressed issues such as health care, child care, family leave, wage inequity, domestic violence and other women’s issues." Abortions up since '73, or down? This is not a hard answer. All of the issues he describes have been liberalized significantly.

Up, or down?


Todd writes:

Kyle, if we felt as strongly as you do about the issue, the only moral choice would be to quit all our day jobs and ride the anti-abortion train. Anything else would be a mortal sin.

Peace, Todd. As flattering as that bit of hyperbole is -- it's hard for me to imagine taking too seriously the murder of, conservatively, 3,000 innocent people a day who are utterly unprotected in law -- it's hard to see where you derive it from what I've written here.

It seems to me my main gist has been this: If one wants to support the candidate who thinks it's a constitutional right to rip open the head of a baby a minute from birth with scissors and kill her, who will appoint only judges who share that view to the nation's courts, who will pay for doing that with tax dollars, who will spread that philosophy to other countries through foreign aid, who will advocate for treaties in the United Nations imposing that view elsewhere, who will advocate that view to the nation through mass media at every opportunity while presenting himself as a faithful Catholic -- well, then one shouldn't try to pass that support off as being pro-life or in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church. It isn't.

First you imply I'm a partisan. When I demonstrate that's not true, even noting that I can understand someone not wanting to vote for Bush, you accuse me of some kind of impossibly high standard. Actually, all I'm suggesting is that pro-life Catholics should not vote for a president who thinks murder is a constitutional right, whatever party he may be from -- or at the very least, not pretend that it's the pro-life, Catholic thing to do.

Perhaps you could give me the benefit of the doubt the next time there's a question of what I mean?


Peace, Kyle.

I will take your points, especially on benefits, to heart. You are correct. Except perhaps where you're eager to label something as "sin," when it seems unclear to me such a thing is for certain. Some adjustment is needed there, I think.

I tried to be clear that Kerry is far from the right candidate for me (or really, for anyone) and that Ekeh and I would differ on that point. However, our current president was not very effective from the get-go on the matter. I don't believe it's likely either major party man will slide abortions up or down very much at all.

Is it a sin to be a pragmatist? A realist? The rhetoric I read on this thread talks about John Brown, labels those outside the camp as sinners and Nazis and cowards. Lively talk, perhaps, but not life-ly.


As Ono is using economic terms to address his views, I will venture to respond from that perspective. The economic terms address the behavioral matters and alternatives available to women with crisis pregnancies. If we do want fewer or no abortions to occur, we should generally seek to limit its availability and to influence the willingness of women to seek an abortion.

Nonetheless, this is a moral issue. If we believe that unborn children are human life and should not be murdered, then we must support efforts to make abortion illegal, unavailable to women, regardless of what else we do. As long as abortion is legal, the demand side approach is very vital because the woman can by law choose to abort her baby. She must be persuaded of the immorality of it. Further, if we can provide other incentives to encourage her to give her child life, then we must use whatever tools are available to us. I don't necessarily agree with all of the economic incentives that Ono cites. I know many lower income young women (white) who give birth to their children and think it's a pretty good deal that they get welfare. Because of today's lack of moral standards, they think nothing of their way of life. So, I'm not really thrilled, myself, with the incentives this creates. Yes, the children are saved, thank God, but are the young women dissuaded from their behavior that landed them in the situation in the first place? No. Have the economic incentives or moral persuasion been enough to save the babies? I am not sure. [I don't have precise figures in front of me, but I think we can all stipulate to the following general facts.] While the rates of abortion continue unabated, the rate of children born to unwed mothers continues to grow--and not just in minority neighborhoods. We need a behavior change, which bumps right up against the quest for absolute sexual freedom referred to above.

Because these efforts are not enough--though very important and must be continued--do NOT misunderstand me, it is clear to me that abortion must be made illegal in order to reduce/stop it in any meaningful way--just looking at it from an economic perspective. The crisis pregnancy centers should still exist b/c women will continue to need guidance when pregnant and single, for example. The things we are doing today should continue, ie, encourage adoption or guide mothers to some plan for living if they raise their children.

Anyway, my hat is off to all who labor to save unborn children, whether by their pursuit of legal prohibition, their direct work on the front lines with the women in such desperate need, prayer, or contributions to pro-life groups (around the world). I think all of this work is valid and important. Demand and supply approaches are complementary, and both should be pursued.

The bottom line, however, is that it must be made illegal because it is the intentional murder of innocent human beings. Thanks again to all of you who labor to save children.


Nothing new here. Just another tired rehash of Mario Cuomo at ND circa 1984, and it's even less true now than it was then. Here's the money quote from Ono's apologia, and it's a lie:

"This demand-side approach will take time and does not immediately make abortions rare, but our goal is to change a culture, not just a law."

Who's the "our" in that sentence? Certainly not J. Forbes Kerry, who's publicly professed to be "proud" of favoring the federally funded deaths of innocents until the moment that they have fully emerged from the birth canal. He's on the record as being opposed to changing the culture. Ono needs to find another candidate if he's looking for someone committed to "our goal."

(Oops, sorry, I got carried away. Ono's obviously not looking for a candidate but a fig leaf.)


T. Marzen says: [Ono's] right to suggest that throwing people (here, doctors and women) in jail may not always be the only or best way to discourage bad behavior.

But it works. And after thirty years and twenty million abortions the folks are getting just a wee bit impatient. I venture to say that if an unborn baby had a say in the matter, he or she would be too. Just a hunch.



The "bottom line" is not making abortion "illegal," but stopping abortion. Who cares if it a crime to procure an abortion if this does not effectively prevent abortion? You are trading symbolism for substance, potentially sacrificing the lives of unborn children in the process.


Tom Harmon, the thing we should be asking Oko Eneh is what, precisely, in his proposed strategy:

"if social conditions were changed so that women were empowered, and if we effectively addressed issues such as health care, child care, family leave, wage inequity, domestic violence and other women’s issues"

is Europe not already doing? And if Euro-socialism has not eliminated abortion there, why does Eneh think it would here? (I suspect that the question answers itself -- if abortion disappeared tomorrow, he would advocate all the same things anyway; the abortion issue is merely a rhetorical device.)

T. Marzen


Criminalizing abortion may indeed "work" -- and I'm all in favor of it to the extent that it does (or would) work in practice. (Let's just see how many docs and women would actually be arrested, prosecuted, convicted by juries, and sentenced to prison for performing or procuring abortion before we decide that issue, OK?) The point is: It is delusory to imagine that enacting a criminal law is the only, final, or complete solution to abortion . . . just as it is delusory for Ono to exclude criminal law from the equation.


I was in a pro life student group with Ono so, even though I absolutely believe abortion should be made illegal tomorrow (or this afternoon if possible), I can vouch for his commitment to the pro life movement.

Perhaps it is a failure to understand the teaching or magisterial function of law, which if Ono suffers from that, it is a malady he shares with many pro-life conservatives who are economically Liberal (ie proponets of free market economics) or for that matter political Liberal (ie neoconservative) conservative catholics.

Neil Dhingra

I am, unfortunately, not as well informed on the political complexities of the abortion debate as I should be. Thus, while reading Ono Ekeh's delineation of different pro-life approaches - namely either criminalizing abortion providers or addressing the social issues that compel women to choose abortion - a question kept entering my head. I don't have an answer; perhaps some of you do.

The question goes something like this. Let us assume that Bush is reelected. What can we realistically expect in terms of effective pro-life legislation during his second term? We can assume that Bush will still have to struggle with the economy and the ambiguities in the Middle East, which will not leave him with a great deal of political capital to spend. We can assume that getting judges confirmed will remain a divisive and partisan affair, especially if certain issues are at stake. We can assume that the Republican party - including Bush - will not want to really alienate its not insignificant pro-choice members and base. Bush, after all, didn't mention abortion in his last State of the Union address, choosing instead to talk about steriod abuse. We can also assume that the same conflicted situation would face Kerry on this and other controversial bioethical issues.

That is, other than somewhat symbolic pieces of legislation, is anything really at stake in this election with regard to the criminalization of abortion? Or will the political process, allergic to prophetic witness, inevitably continue to reflect the compromised ambivalence that most Americans feel about abortion? This would mean, practically speaking, that Ekeh's approach, although lacking a certain frisson, is really the only approach.

Is this true? Hopefully not.



The points about the ultimate end of our efforts, be they legal or social, being an end to abortion itself are right, so far as they go. However, I'd point out that based on church teaching, the legal end is actually required regardless of its efficacy.

The Catechism (2273) makes this profound point, which is often overlooked: "The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation." It goes on to cite another church document from the CDF stating that when a legal regime denies the right to life, "the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined."

Pope John Paul II amplified this point in Evangelium Vitae. "Although laws are not the only means of protecting human life, nevertheless they do play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behaviour. I repeat once more that a law which violates an innocent person's natural right to life is unjust and, as such, is not valid as a law." (EV, 90)

Earlier, in paragraph 70, he argues persuasively that the right to life cannot be subject to the mere whims of majority votes, or it makes a mockery of the very idea of democracy.

I would point out that the spread of the Culture of Death since 1973 (euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, cloning) and our increasingly incoherent jurisprudence as judges try to defend indefensible decisions bear out the widsom of the church's teaching here. The right to life is no less than a founding pillar of civilization. Abandon it, and the results will be catastrophic and unpredictable.

(The Pope writes far more eloquently than I have about these points in EV, as well.)

Steve Skojec

You know, Neil, I wonder that myself. And what I find that I am confronted with is this - keep the dam in place with at least a nominally pro-life president whose increasingly Christian position makes him a candidate for doing more, or let loose the tides of hell and allow the most pro-abortion man in politics start implementing policies that will put our tax dollars at the service of abortion providers and without question implement judicial activists if given the chance.

I hate incrementalism, but what choice have we got?

Mike Petrik


Actually, the accomplishments of the Bush Administration vis-a-vis abortion have been fairly impressive given the legal constraints under which the executive branch operates, and they have been posted repeatedly on this blog already. You might consider researching this a bit.


Your symbolism versus substance argument would be true only if you assume criminalization would not deter abortions. Such an assumption is belied by the fact that the number of US abortions (by any estimate) promptly skyrocketed after abortion's decriminalization in 1973.



Yes, we should ulitmately try to stop all abortions as much as we are able. We really need, however, to make it illegal in order to reach that goal. So, I suppose making it illegal is a means rather than an end; you are right in that sense. But it really is an extremely necessary means that cannot be abandoned or sidelined for moral or economic persuasion. My own observations and Mike's comments about the number of abortions skyrocketing post-Roe v Wade demonstrate that legal prohibition is a critical objective on the way to ultimately stopping all abortion.


PS. Even if making abortion illegal did not stop or reduce the number of abortions (which I doubt), just agreeing as a society that it is abhorrent and murder, plain and simple, is an important step in changing the culture.


One clarification, Mike Petrik. Abortion technically wasn't "decriminalized" in 1973. Instead, it was "constitutionalized" and the power of the individual states to regulate it was virtually eliminated, literally overnight. In effect, though, Roe did wipe out the criminal statutes that remained on any states' books.

The point being only that the reversal of Roe would not lead to immediate "criminalization" of abortion, as pro-aborts typically claim. Rather, it would return to the states their historic police power to regulate the practice. Whether criminalization resulted would be left to the various state legislatures (and/or state courts).

Mike Petrik

I considered adding the word "effectively" to my post but thought it was irrelevant to my point. Should've known I'd be called on it. You are right, of course; but I stand by my point.


PMC, that's mostly correct. It is possible, although alas highly unlikely, that the court could find a constitutional right to life and ban abortion in overturning Roe. That is actually an accurate reading of the Constitution in my estimation, and the best thing that could happen, but given that the best friends of life on the court, such as Justice Scalia, do not see the document that way, it is very unlikely to happen.

And by supporting such judicial activism, I no doubt lose my membership in the federalism club.

Mike Petrik


Do not despair. The society, not being a church, has no dogmas as such. While some may view you as no longer in perfect communion, I know from personal experience that the loyal opposition is always welcome.


Kyle, you are right on both counts. That that would be the "right" way to read the Constitution, but never in its history has it been read that way and won't be anytime soon.

In that regard, I think that Scalia was unfortunately excoriated in "all-or-nothing" circles, but I am an unashamed incrementalist --which is why I see what this administration has been able to do in little more than 3 years and stand impressed.

Mike P. -- I also stand by your point that Roe obviously resulted in more abortions.


Ekeh demeans no one.

I actually kinda think he demeans himself. He was caught using company computer on company time to undermine his boss...that's theft regardless of whether or not 20 pages are devoted to it in the company handbook. A more gracious approach would have been to simply apologize and then move on. I felt embarrassed for him reading the rest of the article.

Mike Petrik

My intended point was not that Roe caused more abortions (though that is a fact), but that since "decriminalization" caused an increase in the number of abortions it is reasonable to suppose that re-criminalization would cause a reduction. This point was in response to Celine's prior post which seemed to assume the contrary. Sorry if I was unclear.


My bad, Mike. Your earlier post was sufficiently clear, and I again agree with you as you've restated it.


American women had somewhere between 200,000 and 1.2 million abortions a year before Roe (a million is probably the number with the most support); last year, we had about 1.3 million abortions. When you consider the population increase since the early 70s - not to mention the other changes in our culture, which might have increased abortion regardless of its legal status - that's not a very big change. There's almost no change at all if we restrict our view to the few years before and after Roe - which we should do, to avoid mistaking other cultural changes for the effect of Roe.

It's probably more reliable to look at birthrates - unlike illegal abortions, births are easy to count accurately. But there was no significant change in US birthrates following the Roe decision.

Recent evidence from Poland shows the same thing - outlawing abortion doesn't seem to reduce abortion, nor does it increase the birthrate. (See Reproductive Health Matters, Volume 10, Issue 19 , May 2002, Pages 22-30).

Outlawing abortion has some high costs; it restricts women's freedom, it has enforcement costs, and it makes criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens (not unlike gun bans, actually). Although I don't agree with banning abortion, all of that might be justifiable (from an anti-abortion point of view) if there was a large reduction in abortions, or an increase in childbirth, following a ban - but there is not. From a cost-benefit analysis perspective, banning abortion has high costs in exchange for next-to-no benefits.

The analogy to bank robberies makes no sense, because it's fairly clear that penalizing bank robberies actually does reduce them. Furthermore, since most bank robberies are committed by a very small number of dedicated criminals, putting a small number of people in prison presumably has a large impact on reducing the total number of bank robberies. The same is not true of abortion.

Donald R. McClarey

Ampersand, your figures on annual illegal abortions each year before Roe are highly inflated, but leave that aside. We will outlaw abortions, and I pray you will live to see that day, for the same reason we outlaw infanticide, manslaughter, homocide, murder,etc.: to protect innocent human life. After that day illegal abortions, at a greatly reduced rate, will occur just as murders still occur, even though murder is illegal.

Mike Petrik

I agree completely with Don's last post.

I take special issue with Amersand's figures. These are the data NARAL and its allies trot out routinely, but never with any support. My friends at NOW candidly admit they are BS figures (related to the back alley death figures that have been discovered to be phony), but useful to their cause.


I agree that Ampersand's numbers are faulty. Founder of NARAL Bernard Nathanson (spelling?) admits to having made them up. Here's another thing to consider:

"It's probably more reliable to look at birthrates - unlike illegal abortions, births are easy to count accurately. But there was no significant change in US birthrates following the Roe decision."

Birthrates would only be an accurate guide if the rates of pregnancy remained constant. Assuming that this information is accurate (which, I grant, is a pretty big assumption), one thing that could easily have happened was that pregnancy rates and abortion rates both increased, resulting in no change in birthrates.


It may be a good idea to take a look at the Civil Rights and how these were won. Two things happened, first the Laws were changed, then people's hearts changed.
Today something like separate water fountains which were common in the 1950's would be unthinkable. I pray for the day when abortions are as unthinkable. But people in the 1950's didn't just try to change hearts first, they changed the laws, the people's hearts changed ONLY AFTER the laws changed.

Fr. Rob Johansen

Dr. Bernard Nathanson was a founder of the pro-abortion movement involved intimately with the politicking and organization of NARAL. He beleived in abortion so much that he ran his own abortion clinic. He later became pro-life (and subsequently Catholic). He admitted in his book Aborting America that the figures touted by NARAL and NOW concerning illegal "back-alley" abortions before Roe were completely invented, bogus statistics. That didn't stop the establishment media from gobbling them up and parroting them uncritically.

The real annual figure for abortions pre-Roe was more like "a few thousand". Even if you put it as high as 10,000 a year, that is several orders of magnitude lower than the 1.3 million today.


Ono seems to have a little problem with Kerry as well (from Drudge Report):

"Kerry told the LOWELL SUN in October, 1972: "I would say also that it's a tragic day in the lives of everybody when abortion is looked on as an alternative to birth control or as an alternative to having a child. I think that's wrong. It should be the very last thing if it has to be anything, and I say that not just because I'm opposed to abortion but because I think that's common sense."

Kerry declared: "I think the question of abortion is one that should be left for the states to decide." "

Mike Petrik

Kerry will own up to his 1972 errors without hesitation. He's that kind of guy.

Fr. Rob Johansen

Outlawing abortion has some high costs; it restricts women's freedom...

The only "freedom" abortion restricts is women's "freedom" to kill their unborn children. That freedom is an illusion. Freedom used to perfrom an evil act is no freedom at all.

it has enforcement costs, and it makes criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens

Making abortion illegal would not "make" anyone a criminal. It would simply recognize the objective nature of reality.


Just to hammer the point of Ampy's bogus numbers, even the Alan Guttmacher Inst., a pro-abort resource, estimates that current levels of abortion in the US are >2x the levels immediately before Roe. If you go back a year or two before Roe, before some states had liberalized their laws, the increase is far more dramatic according to the AGI.



Keep in mind that two Supreme Court seats will likely be vacated during the next Presidential term. If you are pro-life, who do you want appointing those justices, Bush or Kerry?

The whole "what can one man do . . ." argument is fatuous. That type of rhetoric can be used to justify voting for anyone under any circumstances. It can also be used as a convenient excuse for any of us to remain sitting on our hands while the culture of death devours us. It's important to recognize we are at war in this culture and the Enemy would like nothing better than for us to remain comfortably reposed in our fox holes arguing tactics while we lose battle after battle. It's important to think in the long term, but we can't afford to do it at the expense of taking action today. I'm convinced that if everyone who claimed to be pro-life simply began acting as if they were, we would put a huge dent in the abortion numbers.

Bush may not be perfect, but I challenge anyone to name a better, realistic option for the pro-life cause. If you have to hold your nose while voting for Bush, too bad. Just do it. And please, spare us your self-indulgent whining and work to nominate someone better next time.


Thanks to others who had data on the number of abortions pre-Roe v. post-Roe. I also thought that, as a matter of logic, it makes perfect sense that if some act that had heretofore been illegal, became legal, one would expect the occurrence of that act to increase mightily upon legalization.

For example, it is generally accepted that the "no-fault" and other easier divorce laws in place have contirbuted greatly to the extensive increase in divorce in more recent decades. Yes, the general culture change came along with it. It's hard to say which caused the other, though.


Actually, Peggy, some recent research (pdf link) has suggested that no-fault divorce caused a short-term bump in divorces (as folks who otherwise would have waited a year or two got divorces immediately), but over the long term divorce trends were not changed.

Someone wrote "I take special issue with Amersand's figures. These are the data NARAL and its allies trot out routinely, but never with any support."

Tietze, Christopher, "Abortion on request: Its consequences for population trends and public health." Semin Psychiatry 1970;2:375-381 is the source of the "million per year" figure.

See also the data discussed in Journal of the American Medical Association for December 9, 1992.

Now let's see you folks do as well. One poster claimed that "The real annual figure for abortions pre-Roe was more like 'a few thousand,'" at most ten thousand; I'd like to see a source for that figure, preferably a peer-reviewed journal. I think you're confusing all abortions with legal abortions; in the 1960s, there were about that many legal abortions per year, but there were many more illegal abortions.

Please note, by the way, that before abortion was legal there were 200-300 known abortion-related deaths per year in the USA. (Some pro-choicers have claimed there were ten or twenty times that figure, but they were wrong). If you want to seriously argue that there were 3,000 ("a few thousand") abortions per year, then you're also saying that when abortion was illegal, as many as one out of ten abortions led to the woman's death. Do you really think that was the case?

PMC claims: "Just to hammer the point of Ampy's bogus numbers, even the Alan Guttmacher Inst., a pro-abort resource, estimates that current levels of abortion in the US are >2x the levels immediately before Roe."

PMC, could you provide a link or citation to the AGI article which says this? (Not just to a pro-life article claiming that the AGI said this.)

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute "Estimates of the number of illegal abortions in the 1950s and 1960s ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year. One analysis, extrapolating from data from North Carolina, concluded that an estimated 829,000 illegal or self-induced abortions occurred in 1967."

Plus, there's the more recent evidence from Poland, cited in my last comment, which also proved that outlawing abortion isn't very effective.

* * *

Stacey, can you give ANY plausible reason to believe that BOTH the pregnancy rate and the abortion rate suddenly jumped after Roe was legalized? (As for birth rates, see for yourself: in the five or six years after Roe, there was no significant change.)


My apologies; looks like I forgot to close a couple of tags.

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