Giovanni’s — 610 Bell School Road — Rockford, IL
Friday, January 18, 2008
7:30 a.m. — 8:45 a.m.
Keynote Speaker — Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse
A reporter called me earlier this week asking me to analyze and react to a new Guttmacher study reporting that abortion has dropped — an amazing 25 percent in actual numbers, 34 percent decline in the rate of abortions and 26 percent decline in the ratio of abortions to pregnancies. At its peak in 1983, 30 of every 100 known pregnancies ended in an abortion. Now it is 22 per 100 known pregnancies.
Several things didn’t quite add up about the report. First, that data is not new. I had reported those facts months earlier and have been talking and writing about it since then. Second, the article will be in the March issue of a sexual and reproductive health journal, but it was released to reporters two months early — just before the March for Life and the 35th anniversary of Roe v Wade. As they say, timing is everything.
In an attempt to denigrate the success of the pro-life movement, the Guttmacher article speculates that the decline in this “necessary service for women” is due to: fewer teen pregnancies, decline in abortion providers (down 2 percent since 2000) — requiring abortions to be done at a licensed surgical center — requiring expensive ultrasound equipment on-site, etc.
Obviously, we are making wonderful progress in ending the scourge of abortion. Obviously, we are changing the attitudes of people across the nation. Still, though, abortion remains a blight on our culture. Still, though, there are over a million abortions a year in the U.S.
This morning I want to focus on two things:
First, the ideological foundation for abortion compared to Biblical principles.
Second, evaluate how we doing in the battle for the hearts and minds of the culture.
THE PRO-ABORTION ACTIVISTS MADE HEADWAY
BY MAKING ABORTION A MATTER OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Way back when, Rebecca Walker — the founder of the 3rd Wave of feminism — declared, “You can’t be pro-woman and anti-abortion.” Her first abortion at age 14 came, she said, after “many days and nights” with her “first lover.” Imagine that — many days and nights with a lover at age 14! She wrote in Harper’s Magazine, “I hope that you will see that your abortion can be a rebellious and empowering act. It is a surgical operation with a mission. My hope is that after your abortion, you will begin to know your own power.”
Yes, Feminists say abortion is about power.
Feminists say — Abortion is about choice.
Feminists say — Abortion is about women’s rights.
Feminists say — Abortion is about reproductive health.
Behind that relatively benign rhetoric is the ultimate power grab: the power to choose between life and death. 1.2 million times a year, 4,000 times a day, women decide which baby will live and which will not. What a CHOICE.
This one will live this one will not.
This one is wanted this one is not.
This one is convenient this one is not.
Most of you will remember the movie KRAMER V. KRAMER. The newly empowered mother in that movie walks out on her husband and child to seek her own empowerment. Two things stand out to me about that movie — two groundbreaking things. Her friend says: “It took courage to walk out.” So, an act of selfishness and self-centeredness is described as courageous. A mother’s abandonment of her child is portrayed as noble and powerful. The mother writes her son to explain why she left: “Being your mommy was one thing – there are others.”
SADLY TODAY — TOO MANY WOMEN HAVE BOUGHT INTO THE IMPORTANCE OF THOSE “OTHER THINGS.”
They have embraced the view of Jean-Paul Sartre, the father of existentialism: “Man commits himself to his life, beyond which there is nothing.” Man commits himself to HIS LIFE, beyond which there is NOTHING.
There are no absolutes.
There is no God.
There are no standards.
The only thing that matters is your own personal happiness.
There is a terrible irony in that by reaching for so-called “women’s rights” feminists are rejecting the incredible God-given power that we already have as women. In choosing abortion they are specifically rejecting the amazing power of being a unique part of bringing about – and shaping – the next generation. Think of how the world is changed with each child brought into the world! That’s real power.
But if there is nothing beyond our own individual lives, our own individual happiness, then we have to redefine feminine power don’t we? Let’s contrast the secular, feminist view of a woman’s power with a Biblical interpretation. Look at the Proverbs 31 Woman.
“Who can find a virtuous woman? She is worth far more than rubies.”
This is a woman of REAL POWER!! But her power is based on servanthood and self-sacrifice. She is the servant leader. Everything she does benefits more than just herself; it benefits her household. But notice – she is to be given a reward – she is to be praised in the gates.
The Proverbs 31 woman is praised in the gates; contrast that ideal with women under the abortion regime?
Abortion promises power brings powerlessness.
Abortion promises freedom brings lifelong bondage.
Abortion promises a better role for women brings destruction.
Abortion promises to save relationships destroys them instead.
Abortion promises “reproductive health” brings infertility and death.
Romans 1:25 — “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
Abortion — far from being the vehicle to real power that the feminists hope — instead destroys women. History has numerous examples of the destruction that follows when human beings seize power for themselves that rightly belongs to God. When we each become gods unto ourselves, disaster follows. So it is when women become takers of life rather than givers of life.
And, tragically, moral breakdown in one aspect of life leads to moral breakdown in other areas, too. So, we have Peter Singer (professor at Princeton University) arguing that euthanasia is only humane; that the elderly and handicapped have a right to death, even a responsibility to fade from the scene. So, we have fissures in the rest of the culture — no-fault divorce, cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births and the list goes on — when we set ourselves up as the sole arbiters of good and evil.
Mother Theresa: “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
Living as you wish, many find, is empty power.
Living for yourself, many find, is just plain empty.
Paul calls us in Ephesians to “speak the truth in love.” That is our challenge as pro-life advocates and Christians who love those who need Christ’s love — to begin anew telling those in bondage about the truth that brings real freedom and real power.
Abortion supporters say that we are against choice. In actuality we cannot be against choice because God Himself gave us free will (another word for choice), but He advised us to choose wisely and he instructed us in the way we should follow:
Deuteronomy 30:15: “See I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed.”
There are hundreds of examples of people who were destroyed by abortion. One of the more famous testimonies is from Dr. Alveta King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King. She shares her testimony of regret over an earlier abortion. She says, “Abortion didn’t solve my problems; it just created new ones.”
The Bible tells us: “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.” Our job is to reach out to the women and men who have been beguiled by the abortion lie.
WE NEED TO EVALUATE HOW WELL WE ARE DOING
IN WINNING THE BATTLE FOR THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE CULTURE.
The decline in the abortion numbers since 1990 is a direct result, I believe, of the work of the pro-life community. Pregnancy help centers, information on Internet websites — full and complete information about both the value of life and the realities of abortion — and events like this pro-life breakfast.
Let’s look at some of significant trends that are victories and challenges.
Abortions among teens have declined dramatically — now a small minority of the total number of abortions. Teens — less than 20 percent. Decreased 43 percent!! Majority of abortions are to older women. Women over 20 years of age — more than 60 percent and those over 25 — 48 percent Most abortions are to unmarried women — (four times higher) but their decline matches that of married women. Black women’s abortion rate is 3.5 times higher than for white women. (22 per thousand before Roe v Wade — then jumped to 60 per thousand) Abortions to women who already have a child are going up. (60% — women aborting a first pregnancy is only 40% of all abortions) Abortions to women who have already had an abortion are going up. (55 %) Teen sexual activity and teen births are down — along with teen abortions. So the argument that abortion is necessary to prevent teen pregnancy doesn’t hold true. Recession and unemployment do not increase the abortion rate so the argument that abortion is a matter of finances is not proved by the data. Proponents of abortion claimed that it would decrease child poverty — but the increase in single-mother homes has produced the opposite effect.
With fewer than 1 out of 5 abortions accounted for by teens and fewer than 1 out of 5 accounted for by married women, 62.5 percent of abortions in 2000 were to single women 20 years of age or older — 60% of those to women who had already had one or more live births (at least 40 percent of them to single women).
So, abortion is not a choice of inexperienced, immature teens, but older women who foolishly and irresponsibly risk unprotected sex in a day when STDs are rampant. Sadly, these older women are using abortion as birth control. Most say their choice is for financial reasons, but again note that recession and unemployment situations do not increase the number of abortions.
Let’s examine what is working. How are we reaching the teens and what hope do we have of reaching those 20-somethings who are driving today’s abortion statistics?
There are three factors that I think have had dramatic impact in changing public attitudes toward abortion.
1. SONOGRAMS — 3-D AND 4-D — this incredible technology has shown, in dramatic pictures, that a pre-born baby is not just a glob of issues; it really IS a human being. As Bill Cosby says, “That’s a baby in there!” The dramatic pictures, so clear now, show neo-natal reflexes and babies sucking their thumbs, blinking their eyes and, in every respect, showing their humanity and personality.
2. REAL-LIFE STORIES — the recent movement of “women who regret their abortions” and women who are committed to remain “Silent no more” are changing peoples’ lives.
Let’s listen to their voices.
“Well, I can’t have kids now. It’s really hard at times to know I gave up my only chance of having a family of my own. Sometimes I cry my eyes out all night long over that fact. I know that God has forgiven me. But it’s hard to forgive myself. Every time I see a baby I want one. And I know I can’t have one because, I had an abortion when I was just 14 years old.”
“Little did I know at 19 years old that my abortion was the beginning of years of pain, heartache, guilt, such trauma that led me to drinking and drub abuse to numb the pain, that I couldn’t change what I did The grieving process is indescribable.”
“At the time of my pregnancy I thought that the counsel I received was easiest to believe – which was ‘that the contents of my uterus was only tissue and that aborting the product of our conception was the best choice for my life’ The death of my child created intense relational problems with the baby’s father and within one year our relationship ended. The end to our love did not end the pain, the nightmares, the emotional tie with the baby’s father, the extremes of drug and alcohol use, the guilt and regret and the confused running from the tragic murder.”
MEN AND ABORTION
“My wife says that she doesn’t have tremendous qualms about the act of abortion. It isn’t a person yet. It isn’t even a fetus. It’s microscopic, you can’t even see it. That’s what she used both times to tell herself, “We can get through this. It’s okay.” On the other hand, you see your wife’s body changing. It changes so fast. You see changes in her right away with the new hormones coursing through her. Everything’s been triggered. So it’s not invisible. It’s not like you expect it to be. Something is there. You can see it. Your wife can feel it. That’s why abortion’s so difficult. If there weren’t physical evidence that something was going on, it might be easier to handle. You might be able to keep it in the realm of fantasy. But there IS evidence that something is going on, something very real, something physical, something magical.”
3. BUT ULTIMATELY, THE TIDE TURNED WITH ONE PICTURE THAT — THROUGH THE POWER OF THE INTERNET — SWEPT AROUND THE WORLD – (April and May 2000)
21-week old unborn baby, Samuel Armas, had Spina Bifida. Surgeon Joseph Bruner scheduled a pre-natal operation. He removed the mother’s uterus, made a small incision and began to operate. Little Samuel’s hand reached out and gripped the surgeon’s finger. Skeptics began a campaign to declare the picture bogus. But the surgeon says: “I always talk to the fetuses. I work to soothe them, by telling them that their parents love them and that I am helping them to become healthy. I work to develop a personal relationship with them.” When little Sam’s hand reached out, the doctor says, he reached out to take the finger when it emerged. The nurse who was in the operating room at the time told reporters that it is not uncommon for babies’ hands to reach out. She said, “Oh, they do that all the time.” The photographer who took that picture that shook the world said, “This made a pro-lifer out of me.”
THE PICTURE OF LITTLE SAMUEL’S HAND GRASPING THE SURGEON’S FINGER MADE A PRO-LIFER OUT OF A LOT OF PEOPLE.
There has been a striking change in the landscape — abortions are at their lowest level since 1990.
As we approach the 35th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, we are seeing a significant change in the socio-cultural mores of the nation.
Abortion, increasingly, is losing its favor as an option.
But, we have not yet made abortion rare.
While the tide seems to be turning in the right direction, there are still challenges ahead of us.
We must continue to focus on providing solid information to the public, providing counseling to those who need it, and outreach to those who are vulnerable.
We cannot rest when there are still 1.2 million abortions every year.
May God bless you in the very important work that you do to end this scourge on our nation’s conscience.