On April 5, 2016 The Lexington Herald published an article about Saving Jane Doe, and my struggle with the abortion issue (see the link on the media page.) Two people commented with sharply different opinions. One said 55 million babies would not be able to comment on the article. The other said they were not babies until they were born. They both missed the points I was trying to make. First, making abortion illegal does not prevent it. Second, an unborn child is still a child.
Many people do equate the right to choose with the right to abort. That is at least part of the reason the abortion rate doubled in the first seven years after it became legal. According to the Guttmacher Institute the abortion rate per 1000 women age 15-45 was 16.3 in 1973 and rose to a high of 29.3 in 1980. After 1981, the rate has gradually fallen to almost exactly the same as in 1973, 16.9 in 2011.There are likely a number of reasons for this decline, including better contraception and better acceptance of single parenting, but I suspect another factor is that women have come to the realization that making abortion legal does not make it right. They may know someone who still suffers from having made that choice. The point is at least 16 of 1000 women choose abortion whether it is legal or not, and they have in every culture since the hunter-gatherers.
I simply cannot understand how anyone can argue that a fetus is not a human being. If a 26-week baby is delivered prematurely, every effort is made to save it and the likelihood of success improves each year. Should we make all of that effort for a “wanted” baby and allow an”unwanted” baby at the same gestation to be electively aborted? I don’t think so. When a baby can survive outside the womb, it has rights of its own, and when a baby’s rights and its mother’s rights are in conflict, then we need to talk about responsibilities, both society’s and the mother’s. The baby probably has rights prior to viability, but at that point it is not society’s responsibility to interfere.