As a Roman Catholic, I am “pro-life,” therefore I cannot defend a legal “right” to abortion. But (there is always a but), likewise I cannot call myself “pro-life” if my focus begins and ends with Roe v. Wade, and I actually support policies that make poverty or health care worse. We know that poverty, lack of healthcare and all the negatives that result from poverty, contribute big time to the deaths of infants and children.
I was fortunate enough to read an article called “When Abortion Falls.” The author begins with the acknowledgement that abortion is certainly related to the law, but “it is also related to underlying socio-economic conditions – poverty, economic opportunity, social cohesion, the adequacy of healthcare.
“While abortion rates in the United States have been trending downwards since the 1970s, the steepest rate of decrease took place during the Clinton administration.” And he was known as a “pro-choice” president! Labels really can be misleading, right?
The author cites two studies that should cause us to look more seriously at how better healthcare, for example, has lowered the abortion rate in Massachusetts after the introduction of Romney’s healthcare reform.
Abortion rates dropped by 17 percent! Since his healthcare legislation is similar to the Affordable Care Act and since the ACA has some explicit pro-life measures and protections that the Romney plan did not have, we should expect the same outcome at the national level in the years ahead.
The second study shows that if Roe v. Wade were overturned in 17 states, abortions will decline by 6 percent. And if 31 states band abortion the rate of decrease would be 15 percent. Certainly, the law will bring the number of abortions down. But wealthy women and even poor women will be able to find another state where abortion is still legal.
The document titled “Declaration on Procured Abortion,” which is also cited in the article quoted above, says it best: “One can never approve of abortion; but it is above all necessary to combat its causes. This includes political action, which will be in particular the task of the law. But it is necessary at the same time to influence morality and to do everything possible to help families, mothers and children.”
A wonderful friend of mine, a member of the Catholic Worker and now deceased, was a strong pro-life person. She would say to me quite often that so many of the pro-life people were very one-dimensional in their efforts to prevent abortions.
She would say that many pro-life persons practice the “abortion of the born.” She meant that once the child is brought into the world, all concern ends and the pro-life persons then subscribe to a politics that would deny healthcare and basic life needs from the child.
It does very little good to bring a child into this world and then abandon them to the vagaries of the economy, poor healthcare, lack of nutritious food, safe housing and good education.
At the end of the day, I am pro-life and that means that I must do all I can to alleviate the scourge of abortion—both of the unborn and the born!
April 2, 2014 //
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