Abortion is no longer primarily an act of teenage desperation; instead, more and more it is the calculated choice of adults unwilling to accept responsibility for their behavior. Abortion is becoming more “rare” among the nation’s teens, but a larger percentage of women in their mid to late 20s women who are supposed to be responsible, mature and informed are, to put it bluntly, using abortion as a form of birth control.
Sensible people are glad to see that teen abortions are declining dramatically and that the total number of abortions is also declining. The abstinence message is getting through to teens, and sonogram technology is making possible increased awareness of the humanity of those babies in the womb.
It is also good news that between 1994 and 1998, the number of abortion clinics in the United States decreased by more than 40 percent simply because not enough doctors are willing to provide the abortions and fewer women are asking for them. In addition, more and more doctors are refusing to perform abortions and many medical students are declining to become licensed for the procedure.
While abortion clinics are closing because of the decline in business, Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) are springing up everywhere. In 1980, there were only 500 across the nation. By 1990 there were 2,000, and now there are at least 4,000.
That’s the good news on the abortion front.
The bad news is that abortions to women over 25 have risen dramatically. Over the past decade, the percentage has grown from 35 percent of the total number of abortions to more than 48 percent in 2000. This contrasts with teen abortions, which have declined during the same period, and abortions to women 20-24, which have remained stable at about one-third of the total.
The real shocker, though, is that it is more common for women to have repeat abortions (some four or more) and to have abortions after already giving birth to living children. Obviously, 25-year-old women and women who are already mothers should know how to exercise self-control and to use contraceptives responsibly and effectively.
According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 6 million American women become pregnant every year – almost half of them unmarried. The abortion rate for unmarried women is four times greater than that of married women. Obviously, these women engage in irresponsible and risky sexual behavior with men who are poor candidates for marriage and even worse candidates for fatherhood. Of those 3 million unmarried pregnant women, almost half have an abortion and almost half become single mothers. Very few of them marry the father of their child or give the child up for adoption.
Sadly, abortion has made it easier for irresponsible men to turn their backs on women and the children they conceive. Ironically, though, most unmarried women are living with the man who fathered their child. Nevertheless, they do not even consider marriage and never consider releasing the child for adoption to a couple on the long lists of those desperate to have a child. Many women would not consider marrying because they “have to,” and they think that giving a child up for adoption is “cruel.” Yet, it is not considered cruel to abort an “unwanted” child that the man is unwilling to support.
During the time that the number of repeat abortions has been increasing, the number of women who choose abortion for the first time has decreased very steadily. Women who had not previously had a live birth accounted for 90 percent of the decline in the number of abortions from 1990 to 2000 only 40 percent of all abortions. By the late 1990s, though, more than 45 percent of all abortions were being performed on women with previous abortions. By the year 2000, the share of abortions accounted for by women with children increased to 60 percent of the total.
In summary, over the past couple of decades, abortion has enabled women to engage in sexual activity without marriage or any other commitment regardless of whether either person is able or willing to commit to a permanent relationship and regardless of whether either person is willing or able to take responsibility for the consequences. That’s the driving force behind the so-called “pro-choice” movement.
Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse is Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute.
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