On Jan. 22, our nation commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in America by a 7-2 vote. Steeped in “right to privacy” language, the court ruled that women should have a legal right to abortion. On Friday, hundreds of thousands flocked to the nation’s capitol to commemorate the 55 million lives that have been lost to abortion in the last 40 years, and the mothers and fathers who still bear the scars of their choices.
We remembered the 55 million children’s lives lost to abortion, but also that millions of post-abortive mothers and fathers live in our society. The promise of feminists and abortion-rights advocates 40 years ago to “liberate” women through legalized abortion is an empty, broken promise.
As a pro-life young woman who has only lived during the second half of Roe v. Wade’s existence, I am the face of the young, pro-life generation. We are not only pro-life, but also pro-woman and pro-family. We believe abortion will be abolished in our lifetime because we have seen a snuffed-out generation and the brokenness of those who have chosen abortion. Yet, most importantly, we are driven by love, for “There is no greater love than to lay one’s life down for one’s friend.”
The child is always the clearest victim of abortion. From its beginning, the crux of the pro-life cause has been the protection of the innocent child in the womb. The child’s very life and existence is caught up in a war of “rights,” “privacy” and “choice” semantics. The fundamental pro-life belief is that no government or person has the power or ability to give the “right” to life, or to take away life itself. Pregnancy, once considered a gift and a blessing, is now deemed an untimely burden on one’s freedom to pursue dreams or careers without the constraints of children.
Tragically, Roe v. Wade has pitted mother against child, mother against father, father against mother, and society against the greatest and most cherished gift: life. We must ask ourselves, what will become of a nation and people who cannot accept, without qualification, the most innocent and vulnerable?
The feminist movement of the 1970s saw legalizing abortion as the last major frontier in the liberation of women and the pursuit of full equality with men. Since then, pro-choice advocates have framed any attempted regulations or restrictions placed on Roe v. Wade as efforts to strip women of their basic human rights. Yet women’s liberation should never have reduced a woman’s body to mere “private property” with children as an extrinsic afterthought. Now is the time to call the bluff on the lies of the modern feminist movement; abortion has not and never will act for the good of women. In reality, Roe v. Wade imprisons women by denying the very apex of femininity: the bearing and nurturing life.
Roe v. Wade has not liberated women. On the contrary, legalized abortion has confined and wounded both women and men. In 2011, the British Journal of Psychiatry published the largest and most definitive analysis of the mental health risks of abortion. The meta-analysis was conducted by Dr. Priscilla Coleman, professor at Bowling Green State University. Dr. Coleman found that women who aborted have a 138 percent higher risk of mental health problems compared to women who have given birth. Also, women with a history of abortion have higher rates of anxiety (34 percent higher), depression (37 percent), alcohol use/misuse (110 percent), marijuana use (230 percent) and suicidal behavior (155 percent), compared to those who have not had an abortion.
Yet, even more gripping are the tragic stories of post-abortive women and men who regret and grieve their abortions. Post-abortive ministries, such as the nationwide Project Rachel Ministry, counsel women, men and family members who have been affected by abortion. Their stories, along with other post-abortive information can be found at helpafterabortion.com.
On Jan. 25, the annual March for Life took place in Washington, D.C. We marched not only for abortion to end, but also for our nation’s suffering post-abortive women and men. After 40 years, much more open dialogue is needed from both sides. We continue to hope that, in the years to come, abortion will not only be prohibited, but our society will realize that real liberation is found in truth. Only in this will our women, men and families be liberated in love.
To quote “It’s a Wonderful Life”: “One man’s life touches so many others, when he’s not there, it leaves an awfully big hole.” The next 40 years are our years. We will never forget and never stop fighting.
Ashley M. Brashear is a graduate student at the John Paul II Institute.