America’s Unwanted Children
By Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D.
June 10, 2002
“Abortion is good child policy,” proclaimed an opinion editorial published in the Chicago Tribune in April. The author argued that New York City’s lower crime rate today was due to the elimination through abortion of unwanted babies 18 years ago. Had those babies come into the world, said the writer, they likely would have grown up to become criminals. “The only children we ought to produce,” said Irving Harris, founder and chairman of The Harris Foundation in Chicago, “are wanted children.” This voice of moral relativism wanted Chicago to follow New York’s lead in making the world safer tomorrow by slaughtering innocents today.
An important part of the abortion mantra is to “make abortion rare.” Yet, the United States has the highest teen pregnancy and legal abortion rates among Western nations.1 Four in ten young women become pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20 –nearly one million a year.2 And, there are over one million abortions performed in the U.S. every year.
We have become so used to these figures being cited that we are numb to the implications. But, break the numbers down and the facts are that 6 million American women become pregnant every year –almost exactly half of them are unmarried. Of those 3 million unmarried pregnant women, almost half have an abortion and approximately the other half become single mothers. Very few of the unmarried pregnant women marry the father of their child or give the child up for adoption.
|Increasingly, abortion is less a desperate teen’s impulsive “solution” than a 20-something’s calculated “choice” between a man she wants and the baby he refuses to accept.|
Oddly, we are discovering that though most of the unmarried women are living with the man who fathered their child, they don’t even consider marriage as an option and would never consider giving the child up for adoption to a couple on the long lists of infertile couples desperate to have a child. Ironically, young women today are told that marrying because you “have to” or giving a child up for adoption is “cruel.” It is not considered cruel to abort a child that is unwanted. Indeed, in some circles abortion is considered a “brave” and “courageous” action because, some argue, nothing could be worse for a child than being “unwanted.” And, of course, some also argue that nothing could be worse for a woman than to be saddled with a child that is “unwanted.”
Actually, something is much worse –discovering that a guy is willing to have sex with you but is unwilling to marry you, even when that sex results in a pregnancy. The truth behind the data is that abortion is overwhelmingly a choice of unmarried, rather than married, pregnant women.3 Over and over, Crisis Pregnancy Center personnel hear unmarried women say that their “boyfriend” or “partner” or “significant other” is “making” them have an abortion. Choosing to have the baby is not an option among the “choices” that the women believe are available to them when a boyfriend or lover is pressuring them to have an abortion. Often the woman is told that if she doesn’t “get rid of the baby,” the man is “out of there.”
Older teens (ages 18 or 19) have higher abortion rates than younger teens (ages 15 through 17). In 1997, 1.7 percent of younger teens and 4.3 percent of older teens obtained an abortion.4
Increasingly, abortion is less a desperate teen’s impulsive “solution” than a 20-something’s calculated “choice” between a man she wants and the baby he refuses to accept. In 1996, women ages 20-24 had over 400,000 abortions, about one-third of the total performed that year (424,270 abortions or 31.9%). These women are, of course, supposed to be responsible, mature, and informed. Yet, their behavior has a high likelihood of producing pregnancy and the men they are involved with are poor candidates for marriage and even worse candidates for fatherhood. Even so, a lifestyle of casual sex is commonplace; it is glamorized in popular culture through contemporary shows like Friends and Sex and the City. The data indicates that cohabitation is continuing to rise dramatically. Though the median age for women’s first marriage is now in the mid-twenties,5 studies show that, contrary to the feminist myth, women don’t have as many choices as they have been led to expect. Among cohabiting or sexually involved couples, the guy determines if and when the couple gets married; a couple does not get married until the man is ready regardless of how much the woman might desire marriage. The abortion statistics indicate that even when confronted with a pregnancy, too many guys are unwilling to make a commitment or take responsibility. In this respect, too, trends have changed dramatically. In 1960, most unmarried pregnant women married the father of their baby before the baby was born, but by 1994, most did not.6
As the United States approaches the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, this so-called women’s rights issue is thoroughly entrenched into American culture and special interest groups are now calling for abortion to be a “human” rights issue.
But nagging facts just won’t go away. Since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in the United States, over 40 million abortions have been performed.
Abortion has made it easier for irresponsible men to turn their backs on women and the children they conceive. Women are left to deal with the consequences and, often, they are not even aware of the worst complications of their choice to abort. And, abortion forces work diligently to prevent them from knowing the incontrovertible facts about abortion and its aftermath.
|If you slaughter the innocents, you destroy the future. Without moral absolutes, all our children are at risk.|
One of the major consequences of abortion, of course, is death. Pro-abortion rhetoric focuses on the danger of “back-alley” abortions, but legalized abortion is not safe. Studies show that abortion is four times deadlier than childbirth.7 Another complication can be infertility. Also, evidence is mounting that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer –commonly called the ABC link. In studies on American women, 11 out of 12 report an increased risk of breast cancer after having an induced abortion.8 Worldwide, 25 studies out of 31 indicate increased risk. A British study found that the risk of cancer was increased, on average, by 30% by one induced abortion. Emotional and psychological consequences are less easy to quantify, but abortion-related emotional and psychological problems are not uncommon after an abortion. In fact, such problems happen often enough that they have earned a medical name: “post-abortion syndrome.”
One author writes that separated women are at the highest risk for abortion; they are twice as likely as all women to have an abortion. She speculates about how marriage would have affected the abortion rates if both marriage and abortion rates had held steady from 1993 through 1996. “Had 61% of all women of childbearing age been married, there would have been 958,000 abortions in 1996, a 408,000 reduction (40%). If only the marriage rate had held steady, there still would have been a 194,000 reduction (14%).9
There is good news on the horizon: between 1994 and 1998, the number of abortion clinics in the United States decreased by over 40% simply because they couldn’t get enough doctors to provide the abortions; more and more physicians are refusing to perform abortions. Some medical schools are seeking legal recourse to require abortion training because too many medical students are declining to become licensed for the procedure.
Other good news is the increase in Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). At a time when some abortion clinics are closing because of the decline in business, CPCs 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.
Nothing is heard more often these days than that certain policies and programs must be enacted “for the children.” However, more and more Americans are realizing that our nation’s moral boundaries are blurred and America’s children are no longer safe; America’s culture is no longer child-friendly. If you slaughter the innocents, you destroy the future. Without moral absolutes, all our children are at risk.
Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D, is a Senior Fellow at The Beverly LaHaye Institute, the internal think-tank for Concerned Women for America. She is co-author of A Different Kind of Strength and author of Gaining Ground: A Profile of American Women in the Twentieth Century.
1U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Trends in the Well-Being of America’s Children and Youth, 2001, p. 266.
2Henshaw, S.K., U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Statistics, New York; Alan Guttmacher Institute, May, 1996; and J.D. Forest, Proportion of U.S. Women Ever Pregnant Before Age 20, New York: Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1986.
3According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate for unmarried women is 4 times greater than that of married women. In 1973, nearly 50 million women of childbearing age (ages 14-44) had nearly 800,000 abortions (46.8 million women had 745,000 abortions). By 1996, nearly 1.4 million abortions were performed that year on over 60 million women of childbearing age (now ages 15-44) –1,366,000 abortions on 60.4 million women.
4U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Trends in the Well-being of America’s Children and Youth, 2001, p. 267.
5In 1973, when abortion became legal in the United States, the median age of first marriage for women was 21 years of age; in 1996 it was 24.8 years of age.
6In 1960, 60% of unmarried pregnant women married the father of their child before the baby was born. By 1994, only 23% of women in that situation married. [U.S. Census Bureau report: Amara Bachu, “Trends in Premarital Childbearing: 1930-1994.” Current Population Reports, 1999, pp. 23-197.]7Riggs, Rebecca. Abortion Lies Exposed: Why the Facts Speak for Life, Concerned Women for America Press Release, January 21, 2002.
8Bordlee, Dorinda. Attitudes to Abortion in a Post 9/11 World, Concerned Women for America, January 29, 2002.
9Woods, Sarah, Why the Pro-Life Movement Must Join Forces with the Pro-Marriage and Pro-Fatherhood Movements, (unpublished manuscript), May 1, 2002.