Pro-life advocates believe several myths that make it all but impossible for the "abortion problem" in the United States to be adequately addressed. One myth is that there is an "abortion problem" in the United States caused by the Supreme Court decision, Roe v Wade. The United States does not have an abortion problem, I repeat, the United States does not have an abortion problem. The United States has an unwanted pregnancy problem. Abortions are only a symptom of the real problem, unwanted pregnancies.
This is not an insight that I came up with in a rare moment of personal genius, people have been saying it for years. The problem for pro-choice advocates is that they have not been saying it enough. Right wing demagogues have long since realized if you repeat an untruth over and over, people will begin to think the untrue is true.
Pro-choice advocates and progressives in general should also use the principle of repetition to better spread the truth of various progressive beliefs. For example, the United States does not have an abortion problem. The United States has an unwanted pregnancy problem, and abortion is only a symptom of that real and actual problem. Lawmakers who try to restrict abortion by law will fail to decrease the abortion rate because abortion is only a symptom of the real problem, unwanted pregnancies.
The following essay will show that abortion has always been extremely common in the United States. While pro-life advocates say that Roe v Wade opened up a floodgate of abortions, the truth is that the rate of abortions as a percentage of population is at the lowest in 150 years, thanks to education and contraception.
The effort by mostly Republican and conservative legislators to make abortion illegal in several states around the country is based on several myths about the history and reality of abortion in the United States.
In truth, American does not have an abortion problem. This bears repeating, American does not have an abortion problem, Abortions are just a symptom of the real problem. The real problem is unwanted pregnancies. Passing laws making abortions illegal or making them difficult or impossible to obtain in your state does not eliminate the possibility of the women of your state obtaining an abortion if they have an unwanted pregnancy. Americans who sincerely wish to reduce the number of abortions in this country should address the real problem, that is unwanted pregnancies, otherwise you are wasting your time and victimizing the victim.
Of course, neither pro life or pro choice advocates want more women to have more abortions. Women with unwanted pregnancies have been obtaining abortions in this country since the beginning, and in astonishing numbers, and at a greater rate as a percentage of the population than even today.
Conservative activists Mare Krane Derr and Linda Naranjo-Huebl wrote a controversial book, Pro-life Feminism, Yesterday & Today (Sulxburger & Graham Publishing, Ltd., New York, 1995) in which they document that many of the early feminists were opponents of abortion. In quoting these early feminists, they reveal just how common if not pervasive abortion was in the years 1850-1900 and beyond. We will quote the feminists and reveal the astonishing numbers below.
Abortion was legal in most every state up until the turn of the century. This was based on the English Common Law tradition that the fetus was not viable until “quickening,” which was the point at which the mother detected movement.
But even after states had imposed restrictions on abortions to various degrees, abortions continued to occur at a high rate. In the 1930’s, there were an estimated 800,000 abortions a year The population in 1930 according to the 15th U.S. Census was 122,775,048. The percentage of abortions per person in 1930 was actually higher than today's 1.5 million abortions, a number which many pro-lifers consider intolerable and inconceivable.
(Boyer, Paul S, editor. (2006). The Oxford Companion to United States History. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. p. 3)
In a personal note, when I was in High School in 1967-68, before the Supreme Court decided Roe v Wade and abortion was still illegal in the Bible belt state of Georgia, I learned that two of my 17–18 year old senior classmates had abortions, and of course, I was not supposed to know.
One can speculate that if this number was true nationwide, then one can calculate that out of the approximately 7000 high schools in the U.S. at that time, a minimum of 14,000 high school girls a year had illegal abortions. According to the U.S. census, 1,459,000 women graduated from high school in the year 1969-70, which is a theoretical abortion rate of roughly one per cent. That figure does not include underclass women or high school dropouts, which a young woman might well do, for example, if she got pregnant.
According to the U.S. census in 1969-70, 341,219 women graduated from college. That number does not include underclass women who were attending college, just the graduates. Most all of these women students were away from home for the first time and looking to form romantic relationships. It is true that most women in college at that time were living in same sex dormitories, However, that would not prevent reckless young men from attempting to initiate a sexual relationship. If approximately one percent of female college graduates had an abortion in the year of graduation, that would be an additional 34,000 illegal abortions. One can presume that the younger women students were also procuring illegal abortions, as well as some of the millions of young women in the work place living away from parental guidance at home and away from the all seeing eyes and protection of dorm supervisors.
In 1970, the United States had a population of 203,392,031 according to the U.S. census. While the 48,000 illegal abortions in high school and college graduates is just an estimate, the number is not unrealistic, representing only one percent of the high school and college graduate population. Considering the total U.S. population of over 200 million, it would not be far fetched to estimate that at least 60,000 to 70,000 illegal abortions were being performed in the years right before Roe v Wade was decided by the Supreme Court.
In fact, that number is low, since as noted below, in 1971-1972, 100,000 abortions were being performed in California alone. This would certainly include women from neighboring states taking advantage of California's liberal abortion law.
This exposes as untrue the first abortion myth.
Myth 1. Roe v Wade opened a floodgate of abortions that would not have happened otherwise.
The poorly thought out process behind the desire to repeal or overturn Roe v. Wade is that in doing so, the number of abortions will be reduced, but that is incorrect. Since history shows us that laws restricting abortion do nothing to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, abortions will continue at a high rate as they have in the past. Back alley abortions will return with a vengeance resulting in needless deaths and serious medical consequences for the female victim. The other result will be an increase in infanticides and suicides.
In 1985, Kristin Luker in her book "Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood" described the abortion situation in California in the years before Roe v Wade. In 1968, the year that the California legislature liberalized California abortion laws, 5018 abortions were performed. However the number of abortions tripled to 15,952 in the following year. The next year 65,369 abortions were performed. In 1971, 116,359 abortions were performed. (University of California Press, Berkley. 1985. Page 94.)
The number stabilized at around 100,000 between 1972 and 1985. The Roe v Wade decision occurred in 1973. This essay will show that abortions were common in the U.S. before Roe v Wade and will remain common if Roe v Wade is overturned.
While some states allowed abortions in the case of rape and incest or the woman’s life, by the year 1900 abortion was by and large illegal in every state. However abortions continued to occur. As we have seen in the statistics from the 1930’s, anti-abortion laws do not address the underlying causes of abortion, which is an unwanted pregnancy, and thus do not prevent abortions.
Legislators might as well pass laws forbidding unwanted pregnancies. While that seems impractical or unrealistic, it actually is not as impractical as it might seem, and we will explain why in the conclusions.
As long as women are sexually active, unwanted pregnancies will occur. As a result, abortions will continue to occur as well.
According to the Kinsey report, in 1920, the percentage of women under the age of twenty who had premarital sex was 8 percent. In the years 1920-1929, 18 percent of women had premarital sex. In the years 1930-39, the percentage of women under the age of 20 who had premarital sex was 25 percent. In 1940-49 there was a drop to 21 percent, likely due to a lack of men during the war years. (Alfred Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, Table 84).
These percentages only reflect the unmarried sexual activity of women under the age of twenty. The percentages of women 20-29 would almost certainly be higher.
In 1976, Zelnick and Kantner found 46 percent of teenaged women had sex outside of marriage. (Luker, Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood, page 111)
Myth 2. People assume that abortions didn’t occur in America in the “good old days,” circa 1850-1900.
However they could not be more wrong. The authors of Pro Life Feminism quoted extensively from the writings of many of the early feminists and Suffragettes to prove the point that the first feminists were opposed to abortion. We will address the reasons for that below, but first we will use the quotations to prove the simple point that abortion was very common in the years 1850-1900.
The feminist quoted in Pro Life Feminism frequently used the word “murder” as well as similar words in connection to abortion. Since that is a legal term which will ultimately be determined by God alone, I have taken the liberty of either eliminating those or similar words or substituting less moralistic language. In the conclusion, we will discuss the Christian definition of murder and why the Bible says that strident pro-lifers might be guilty of the crime of which they are accusing others. The point in quoting these feminists is not to debate the morality of abortion, but to demonstrate how common abortion was in the years between 1850 and 1900.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote in 1868:
“Infanticide is on the increase to an extent inconceivable. Nor is it confined to the cities by any means. Androscoggin County in Maine is largely a rural district, but a recent Medical Convention there unfolded a fearful condition of society in relation to this subject. Dr. Oaks made the remark, that according to the best estimate he could make, there were four hundred … abortions in that county alone. The statement is made in all possible seriousness, before a meeting of regular practitioners in the county, and from the statistics which were as freely exposed to one member of the medical fraternity as another.” The Revolution, March 12, 1868. (Androscoggin County population was 35,826 in 1870, according to the Ninth U.S. census.)
(Abortion) “… we are sorry to believe, is on the increase. (Infanticide) “either before or after birth, has become so frightfully prevalent that physicians, who have given careful and intelligent study to the subject, have declared that were it not for immigration the white population of the United States would actually fall off. In a populous quarter of a large Western city it is asserted, on medical authority, that not a single Anglo-American child has been born alive for the last three years. This is incredible; but making all due allowances for exaggeration, it is plain enough that (infanticide) is a common thing among American women.” The Revolution, February 5, 1868.
“It is not the duty of all men and women to be parents and because this has been regarded as their duty, infanticide is common and will continue to be until there is a changed attitude in regard to childbearing,” Quoted in: Lutz, Alma, Created Equal, New York, John Day, 1940.
Mattie H. Brinkerhoff wrote:
“… but the boldness with which many men blame women for the crime of infanticide without assuming themselves, in the case, a shadow of responsibility, I should think would rouse every mother, at least, to utter words in self defense. That American women are more guilty of this practice than women of any other nation, I do not doubt, but is there not a reason for this?” The Revolution, September 2, 1869.
Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin wrote:
“Even in the small cities in the country it is no uncommon thing for physicians to have a half dozen applications a day to produce abortions.”
Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, January 24, 1874.
(In 1870 there were approximately 70,000 physicians in the United States. If each physician were approached by 6 women seeking abortions, that would be a total of 420,000 possible abortions. Obviously, that number is inflated, because some women will be turned away and might go to several physicians before achieving the desired result. A more reasonable number would be two women instead of six, that would mean that in 1870, an estimated 140,000 women were seeking abortions.)
“… with these also the knowledge that pregnancy can be broken up, sometimes with little present evidence …to the, otherwise, mother…If this practice prevails so widely among wives, who have no need to resort to it “to hide their shame,” but merely to prevent an increase in the number of their children, how prevalent it must be among the unmarried class who have social death staring them in the face when they become pregnant without the consent of the canting priest of drunken squire? ,,.” Woodhull and Claflin’s weekly, June 20, 1874.
Eleanor Kirk wrote:
“Ask (Madame) Restell [a famous abortionist of that era] and thousands of physicians, male and female, who have been engaged in their work of (abortion) for years. Physicians who have graduated from our first medical colleges, whose elegant equipages stand in front of Fifth Avenue mansions…”
(Note that she said there were thousands of persons engaged in providing abortions. To have thousands of abortion providers is indicative of a large demand for those services.)
Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst wrote:
“There is undoubtedly a great international tendency towards the limitations of families. Abortion …is appallingly common amongst married women.”
“Numerous indeed are the married women in this country who, under economic pressure and the strain of maintaining the welfare of their families, have attempted abortion, not once but many times.”
“Mothers vehemently defend abortion, declaring that they have resorted to it for the sake of their children. Increasing numbers of people argue that, faced with an undesired pregnancy, women will procure abortions by hook of crook: (they say) therefore the law should permit abortion, provided it be done under state supervision, with strict aseptic precautions.” Save the Mothers, London, Knopf, 1930, 108-110.
Dr Frederick Hollick, an advocate of sex education and women’s rights, wrote:
“I am confident that much of the horrible practice of procuring abortion, now so prevalent among married people, is caused by the want of simple and reliable means of prevention.” Frederick Hollick, The Marriage Guide, New York: T.W. Strong, 1850.
Dr. Alice Bunker Stockham wrote:
“…the fearful crime of feticide is daily committed.” Tokology: A Book for Every Woman, Chicago: Sanitary Publishing Company, 1887.
Myth 3. The efforts to restrict abortions are not evidence of a Republican or conservative “War on Women.”
Of course, the War on Women has been around for thousands of years in various cultures around the world. A good example that many people are familiar with is the Biblical incident when a woman who was caught committing adultery was brought before Jesus to be stoned. But according to Mosaic law, both parties guilty of adultery were supposed to pay the ultimate penalty. So where was the man? Surely she did not commit adultery by herself.
Sadly, exceptions were made for men who committed sexual violations, and in certain circumstances, even when a man raped the woman.
We don’t know all the details of this particular case, but the man involved is conspicuous by his absence. Sadly, there were several exceptions in Jewish law for a man accused of raping a woman. An early example of the concept of “legitimate” rape as opposed to “non legitimate” rape.
Of course, for some conservatives, “legitimate rape” would be when a member of a minority ethnic group rapes a white woman. To them, that would be inexcusable.
Most people today believe rape is rape. But for these conservatives with guilty memories of their behavior during their college years, their conscience requires them to make a distinction. For them, non-legitimate rape would be what many persons call “date rape.” It’s not his fault she just couldn’t keep him from wrestling that aspirin from between her knees. Plus, he knew in his heart that she really did want to do it.
Other common examples conservatives might consider to be non legitimate rape is slipping a date rape drug into her drink, or spiking the punch at your fraternity party with a non detectable but large amount of alcohol, so that she passes out and is helpless to resist your charms. Or even lying and telling her it’s love, then dropping her and moving on to the next conquest after achieving the goal.
One thing that is obvious in Pro Life Feminism is that the Feminists certainly believed there was a “War on Women” in their day and were not shy in describing the details.
In 1873, the Comstock law was passed which “prohibited open discussion of sexually related matters in the United States.” (Pro Llife, page 9} The law also prohibited contraceptive devices and even the discussion of and advocacy of contraception methods. Several of the feminists quoted in Pro Life Feminism went to jail for the crime of discussing women’s reproductive health or publicly advocating for the use of contraception.
Today legislators are attempting to pass person hood laws that would prohibit abortion and outlaw many forms of contraception. These misguided laws actually will increase the number of abortions, infanticide and suicides.
These feminists lived in “an era when men still argued in all seriousness that women were less than human because of their biological “ inferiority” and “their purported lack of souls.” ( page 10)
The feminists were acutely aware of the oppression of women in their day. This oppression included but was not limited to “culturally enforced ignorance about sexual and reproductive physiology; including pregnancy prevention and fetal development; men’s sexual and parental irresponsibility and coercion; women’s economic dependency and lack of opportunity; the stigma placed on women, but not men, who conceived out of wedlock; an overall dearth of communal supports for those who bore and reared children; the cultural belief that pregnancy was a disease; and women’s vulnerability to a profiteering industry which touted abortion as a panacea for all these injustices.” (page 12)
A good example of the double standards practiced and enjoyed by men of that era as well as today are the sex scandals involving the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher and the Rev. A.B. Carter. Both were accused of seducing one of their parishioners.
In the early 1870’s the Rev. Carter of the Church of the Holy Saviour in New York was accused of seducing a young lady, procuring an abortion for her and sending her to a brothel. When the story was picked up by the press, the victim was widely condemned before the evidence had been examined. The outcome of the legal case is unclear but in 1892, the Reverend was still rector of his church. (Pro Life page 92)
The details of the case involving the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, pastor and founder of one of the first mega-churches, the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, created a national sensation. In 1870, Elizabeth Tilton confessed to her husband that she had an affair with their pastor and mutual friend, Rev. Beecher. When rumors began circulating, something had to be done, so Theodore was fired from his job at a New York newspaper.
Initially, Elizabeth recanted her accusations in writing, due to pressure from Theodore and the Reverend. The story became a national sensation when Theodore told Elizabeth Cady Stanton about his wife and Beecher’s affair. Stanton then told the feminists Victoria Woodhull and Beecher’s sister, Isabella Beecher Hooker.
Because Rev. Beecher had denounced Woodhull from the pulpit for advocating free love, she and her sister published an expose in their Woodhull and Clafin’s Weekly paper on November 2, 1872. The sisters accused Beecher of not practicing what he preached, instead, they wrote that America’s most famous preacher was practicing in private the exact opposite of what he preached.
Naturally, something had to be done about this situation, so Anthony Comstock had Woodhull arrested for violating the Comstock law by sending obscene material through the mail. The Plymouth Church held an inquiry, exonerated Beecher and in 1873 excommunicated Theodore Tilton.
Tilton then sued Beecher in effect for alienating the affections of his wife Elizabeth, and the sensational mega-trial lasted from January to July 1875. Jurors deliberated for six days but could not reach a verdict.
Plymouth Church then held a second board of inquiry, and Beecher was again found innocent. Two years later, Elizabeth again charged Beecher with adultery, and since something had to done, the church excommunicated her also.
Beecher’s wife Eunice nobly stood by her husband through out the ordeal, when she wasn’t flat on her back giving birth to one of his ten children.
If the mega-church pastors and parish priests of today manage to engage in sensational sex scandals, it’s because they are standing on the shoulders of giants like Henry Ward Beecher.
Beecher remained a popular national figure and role model.
(Pro Life page 92.)
One of the ideas espoused by almost all of the early feminists was the concept of “voluntary motherhood.” Incredibly, selfish men could insist on their conjugal rights and society demanded that women comply, not withstanding the state of her physical or mental health. It was unthinkable to society that a man could be guilty of raping his wife, even if brutal or overwhelming force was used. Sadly, society still believed this concept to be true right up to the rise of the modern women’s liberation movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
The early feminists believed that prevention of pregnancy was the best antidote to abortion. But the male dominated society refused to allow women to practice “voluntary motherhood.”
In the mid to late 1800’s, the average woman bore 5 to 8 children. Giving birth was akin to playing Russian roulette. Each birth increased the odds of complications and mortality. Practically every one knew a friend or relative who died giving birth, like the early feminist and doctor who was featured in the book, Charlotte Denman Lozier, who died in childbirth at the age of 25.
It is ironic that of the roughly 30 women featured in Part One, that one, Dr. Lozier, should die giving birth, because 1 in 30 is roughly the death rate at that time. It is doubly ironic that Dr. Lozier should fall victim, since she championed the medical education of all women and self knowledge of their own bodies.
The War on Women that the feminists and suffragettes suffered under as victims in the past has never had a cease fire, truce or peace treaty. The War is alive and well today and women are the only targets.
Part of the problem is the religious patriarchy. A belief in the inferiority of women is a center piece of their philosophy. The ultra sound laws designed to intimidate women seeking abortion are government sponsored rape, not health care. Webster defines rape as “unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman without her consent and chiefly by force or deception; an outrageous violation.”
Governor McDonnell, R. Va, is not Governor Ultrasound but Governor Government Rape.
The heart of the feminists argument was equality in suffrage, property ownership, education, health care and employment.
Unfortunately, we are witnessing a roll back of the gains women have made over the last 100 years. Voter suppression laws proposed and passed in Republican controlled legislatures disproportionately affect women. Attempts to completely outlaw abortion are essentially religious dogma and a violation of the Separation of Church and State. Of course, these religious conservatives don’t believe in the separation of Church and State, even though Separation is a founding Christian principle.
Religious conservatives who express deep concern for the fate of the fetus quickly do a turn about when the child is born. When the mother asks for government help with health care, food, housing or child care, they say, “Not with our tax money,” and “Don’t have a baby if you can’t afford it.”
Several conservative Republican Governors have refused to join the Federal Medicaid extension, even though the Federal Government is picking up a majority of the tab. This is after years of budget cutbacks to programs that protect the welfare of those state’s poorer citizens. This too adversely affects women and their children disproportionately.
Conservatives are vowing to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood which provides health care services in over 820 clinics, and is the largest provider of reproductive health care services in the United States serving 3 million women and children. 35% of Planned Parenthood’s services are contraceptive, while 3% is abortion. Eliminating Planned Parenthood would mean more women will die of cancer, HIV and complications from botched abortions. Obviously, these elected officials don’t care.
Planned Parenthood has done more to reduce the number of abortions than any other organization in the United States. If Pro-life activists really are pro-life, than would be advocating for more public funding for Planned Parenthood, not less.
Abortion has always been common in the United States as it has around the world. Roe v Wade did not open a floodgate of abortions, abortions have been ubiquitous in America since the 1850’s or earlier. As noted in the paragraphs above, the testimony of the pioneer feminists was that abortion was “on an increase inconceivable,” (1868), "present in both cities and rural districts," (1869) “ on the increase,” (1868) and “frightfully prevalent,” (1868) “ a common thing among American women,” (1868) “common and will continue to be,” (N.D.) “American women are more guilty of this practice than women of any other nation,” (1874) “…in small cities it is no uncommon thing for physicians to have a half dozen applications to produce abortions,” (1874) “this practice prevails widely among wives,” (1874) “thousands of physicians, male and female, …engaged in their work (of abortion) for years,” (1868) “is appallingly common among married women,” (1930) “married women …who have attempted abortion, not once but many times,” (1930) “the practice of procuring abortions now so prevalent among married people,” (1850) and “daily committed.” (1887)
According to experts, there were 300,000 abortions in the 1930’s. We speculated that in the years right before the Roe v Wade decision, there were probably at least 60,000 to 70,000 abortions at a minimum and probably many more. (100,000 in California in the years before Roe v Wade.) That only represents about 1% of the female population in the most vulnerable age groups.
The “War on Women” is being prosecuted with obsessive zeal. It is correctly labeled as a war on women because women are the only victims. Only one women in history got pregnant without the assistance of a human male.
Yet, with all the legislation targeting women, there is no legislation targeting the person who, according to conservative law makers, is her “partner in crime,” the man who helped to create the real problem, a woman with an unwanted pregnancy.
Two solutions come to mind to redress this imbalance and shine the spotlight on the men who have, through out American history and even today, are creating an epidemic of unwanted pregnancies, which then results in an unfortunately and inevitably large number of abortions.
Solution one is actually an ancient idea which fell out of fashion in our modern era but it is an idea whose time has obviously returned, but with a twist. A chastity belt was a tool that a man used to ensure that his wife did not bear another man’s children at his expense.
Today, reckless young and old men need to be saved from their raging hormones that are resulting in unwanted pregnancies and thus abortions.
A key operated chastity belt for men could be created that is light weight, comfortable to wear, water proof for swimming and bathing, non-obtrusive, accommodating to the routine needs of nature and equipped with an electronic alarm that would notify the appropriate authorities in the case of unauthorized removal. Wives and mothers would hold the key, and would have to accept the appropriate share of blame for negative consequences if husbands or sons were allowed out into society without the chastity belt and thus unprotected from themselves.
For unmarried male students attending college and living away from home, a female dean would hold the keys, releasing them only for marriage or a medical emergency. For members of the armed forces, no pun intended, the highest ranking female officer in the unit would retain the keys. The keys of unmarried males living away from home would be held by their local health department or appropriate social agency. All males would be required to wear the chastity belt unless diagnosed as sterile or impotent.
One obvious problem implementing the program is that conservative male legislators would not willingly require themselves to wear the belt, even rabid anti-abortion lawmakers would never restrict their ability to indulge themselves in a moment of weakness. They know they would probably not even suffer politically if they stray as long as they are able to convince their wife to appear on TV with them while pretending to be contrite and regretting only that they were caught.
While this idea would be incredibly effective in reducing the number of abortions to a very small number, realistically, and sadly, it probably would not pass in even the most rabidly anti-abortion state. That should not stop pro-choice legislators from introducing bills to require male chastity belts, if only to demonstrate the pervasive reality of the War on Women and the hypocrisy of the conservative politicians and pro-life advocates.
A more realistic idea for modifying the War on Women is available. That is, to make it illegal for a man to impregnate a women against her desire, in other words, to hold men equally accountable when a women has an unwanted pregnancy. Unwanted pregnancies are the reason women choose to have abortions.
This would be a simple law to implement and apply. A woman with an unwanted pregnancy would appear before a judge or justice of the peace and ask for redress under the law. The official would ask the woman to swear to tell the truth. Once under oath, the official would ask the woman to answer three simple questions. The first question is, “Are you pregnant?” The woman answers in the affirmative. The official would say, “We will conduct a pregnancy test to confirm that is accurate.” The second question is, “Who is the father?” The woman would name the man who is responsible. The official would say, “We will conduct a paternity test to confirm that is accurate.” The final question is, “ Do you want to be pregnant?” If the woman says no, and if the pregnancy and paternity tests come back positive, the man is automatically guilty of violating the law against creating an unwanted pregnancy and is liable to pay whatever fine or pay whatever penalty is proscribed under the various laws passed by the various states.
There will essentially be no appeal available to the man who has been found guilty of creating an unwanted pregnancy. The facts are self evident. Once the determination has been reached, there is nothing that can change the decision. Even if the man marries the woman afterwards, or if the woman has an abortion, the decision can not and will not be reversed. The law can not and will not allow the man to try to wiggle his way out of his responsibility for creating an unwanted pregnancy.
The penalty imposed must be sufficient to deter men from engaging in reckless sexual behavior. For a first offense, the fine should be a minimum of $1000.00. For a second offense the fine should be $3-5000.00, plus 30 days community service, and for a third offense, a fine of $5-10000.00 and some amount of jail time. The incarceration could be served on weekends if the miscreant is a student or a man with family responsibilities who might be at risk of losing his job.
This simple law would be effective in reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and thus abortions. As a salient point, the law would almost certainly be an incredibly effective non-tax raising revenue generator for cash strapped states, especially in the Bible Belt states.
One of the reasons why the early feminists advocated making abortions illegal was, along with concern for the health of a woman who suffered a botched abortion and the fetus in general, was that they thought that if abortion was not readily available, men would choose to be more responsible in their sexual conduct. Of course, that was a naive and a forlorn hope. Banning abortions and not addressing the real problem, that is, unwanted pregnancies, will not significantly reduce the number of abortions, just increase the number of botched ones.
Many otherwise reasonable and rational pro-life advocates picket abortion clinics, block the entrance and yell and scream at medical personal and the women seeking abortions. They accuse doctors and nurses of being guilty of “murder.” Most of these people consider it their Christian duty to behave in that manner.
Many pro-life advocates insist that abortion is a matter of legal concern because, to them, it is a matter of a woman engaging in sexually irresponsible behavior resulting in violence to the fetus. Many pro-life advocates consider abortion to be murder and tell women so to their face.
However, a careful study of scripture shows that their behavior is problematical and seems to be not very Christian at all, at least, according to the Bible.
While Christianity is fundamentally based on Mosaic Law, the Founder of Christianity made certain reforms, simplifying many of Moses’ laws and eliminated many more completely. Mosaic Law is not and has never been binding on Christians, only Christian law, as found in the New Testament. (See my essay “Myths of the Ten Commandments”) In Jesus’ day, only the Jews and converts were bound by what was then the very strict Mosaic Law.
What many Christians fail to realize today is that Christianity is voluntary. It is also clear from the scriptures that the founders of Christianity believed that being a Christian was a matter of conscious choice. Christians should be cautious in attempting to force Christian laws and ideals on unwilling persons. The principle of Separation of Church and State forbids the nation or individual states from forcing religious dogma on citizens, no matter how well meaning.
Several of the reforms that Jesus instituted covered the areas of sex and violence, still topics of intense interest today.
In Mosaic Law, adultery was a capital crime. Partly this was so because Mosaic Law was adopted when the Israelites were wandering in the desert surrounded by enemies and fighting numerous battles, which if lost, could threaten the existence of the nation. Thus Mosaic Law is a type of martial law, which is always harsher than peace time laws. Soldiers who were risking their lives fighting on the front lines wanted to be reassured that their wives and daughters would be safe from unscrupulous men holding down the home front.
Earlier, we discussed the woman taken in adultery, when Jesus challenged the man who was without sin to cast the first stone. There are several lessons one can learn from this incident, but one important one is that “all men are sinners.”
Dictionaries define adultery as sex between a spouse and another person who is not the spouse. In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus redefines adultery thusly, “….whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Again, adultery was a capital offense at that time, and so, that was a serious matter. Practically every man and even some women have had lust in their heart. Most people won’t admit it in mixed company, President Jimmy Carter did in an interview and was loudly mocked for his honesty. Fortunately, there is a simple process for having one’s sins forgiven, otherwise, Heaven would be a very lonely place. One important lesson to take away from this is that, again, “all men are sinners, and even that all men are adulterers.”
Since practically every human is guilty of some sort of sexual indiscretions, at least according to Jesus’ definition, humans should be wary of harshly judging or condemning other person’s sexual behavior, lest they be so judged.
Matthew 7:1-2. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgement you judge, you shall be judged, and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Again, Jesus has redefined adultery so that practically every human is guilty.
As mentioned earlier, many pro-life advocates consider abortion to be murder, and during demonstrations at clinics, so address the doctors, staff and the women with unwanted pregnancies as "murderers".
But Jesus has also redefined the crime or sin of murder. In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus says …”and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgement. But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement, … whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”
Therefore, according to Jesus, anger, name calling and insults, are essentially the same as murder. Moreover, the picketing of abortion clinics and the effort to make abortion illegal are not addressing the real problem, unwanted pregnancies. Are religious pro-life advocates who engage in this behavior violating the clear teachings of Jesus?
Once a woman has an unwanted pregnancy, haven’t religious persons failed in their self imposed religious duty? Is the knowledge of their failure to prevent an unwanted pregnancy explain why they are so strident, belligerent and unmerciful to their sisters who feel they need to have an abortion?
Thus, it is evident that abortions have always been relatively common in the United States and almost certainly will continue to be no matter the legal status, unless the real problem is addressed, unwanted pregnancies. Conservative legislators are avoiding real solutions to the issue with their war on women, and should do more to address both sides of the problem of unwanted pregnancies, by holding the man who recklessly impregnated the woman legally responsible. Sex education and contraception are also valuable tools, which could be used to reduce the number of abortions, but illogically, conservatives and pro-life advocates oppose those as well.
Since neither pro-life or pro-choice advocates desire more women to have more abortions, both should work together in a common cause to ensure that abortions are safe, legal and rare.