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The Sanctity of Life and Our Catholic Response

I can remember the day I found out I was pregnant with Leo as clearly as if it happened just yesterday and not 8 ½ years ago. I remember the joy, the pain, the fear, and the worry. I wrote about my journey through a high risk pregnancy here at the website and the outpouring of love and support that our readers showered on me helped to make each day a little easier and less scary to face, especially as many family and friends abandoned us in our time of need.

If you aren’t familiar with my story I will give you a short overview (unless you’d like to read it and then you can find it here, here, and here). During the birth of my 10th child we discovered my son was breech. The doctor, who had delivered more breech babies than any other doctor in our area, was confident in both my ability and his to safely deliver my son. However, try as I might, I simply could not deliver him. Worse yet, while trying I felt an incredible amount of pain (that was a different kind of pain) and my instincts jumped into overdrive. I began to plead with the doctor to take me to the OR to do a cesarean section. I couldn’t get them to understand how vital it was to get us there quickly. They wanted to simply numb my lower half, but I knew we didn’t have that much time. I begged them to put me under and to take the baby. I think they were pacifying me because I was so panicked, but I am forever thankful that they listened to my pleas.

I woke up 3 ½ hours later to find that my uterus and bladder had ruptured and that I had lost so much blood the doctor didn’t feel I would survived a hysterectomy and so he put the “puzzles pieces” of my uterus back together, tried to fix my bladder, and then closed me up. He would tell me that had we not followed my instincts both the baby and I would have died. He also told me that my uterus was so badly damaged it would never hold another pregnancy again; that if I got pregnant that both the baby and I would die.

Fast forward a mere 5 ½ months and after Herculean efforts to not get pregnant, I was sitting in my bathroom with a positive pregnancy test, tears spilling down my cheeks, fear and joy filling my heart simultaneously, and wondering how in the world I was going to tell my husband and children. Never in my thoughts, though, was what would I do about the pregnancy. I knew without a shadow of a doubt I would risk my life to give my child a chance to live.

The events that followed still hurt. We were discharged at my OB office because I refused an abortion, we lost friends as they turned their backs on us and judged us, we felt isolated and alone, and truly felt persecuted for living out our Catholic faith. My heart still reels from the injuries that friends and family inflicted on us during that time. Thankfully my story ended beautifully- a sweet, healthy little boy in my arms, doctors astounded that my uterus was perfectly and “miraculously” healed, and a new gift of life for my son, for myself, and for our family.

I write about my choice for life because today is a dark day in the history of our great United States of America. On this day in 1973 a ruling in the Roe v. Wade case legalized abortion across America. The case denied the rights of the unborn and instead gave women the “right” to decide to end a pregnancy for whatever reasons she may have. The case made it possible that today we have reached over 62.5 million abortions performed in the United States alone. It set a precedence that said a woman’s right to choose is more important than a child’s right to live. It demeaned life in the womb as unworthy in comparison to the mother and it set into motion the false ideology that one human is more important than another. It made a god out of “choice” and placed it on an unholy altar to be worshiped. It has directly affected the importance and sanctity of marriage and family life as well.

As much as I could write about the horrors of abortion and how it has torn at the fabric of our families and our faith, instead I want to touch on what our response is and what it should be towards those faced with the decision to choose life or to choose abortion.

In my own life I faced the condemnation of fellow Catholics who thought I was irresponsible for either “getting pregnant on purpose” or for allowing myself to “fall pregnant again”. Neither scenario was correct as we had done everything within our faith to avoid pregnancy, but that didn’t matter to those who condemned me. I was married, had many other children, and was a faithful church-goer and volunteer. If someone like me, who up to that point had “done it right”, was condemned in such a terrible way, I can only imagine what single young women, poor women, women who made “bad” life choices, drug addicted women, and others feel when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. It’s not hard to understand why they may choose to end a pregnancy instead of face the flames of condemnation.

A dear friend of mine chose differently than me. When faced with an unplanned pregnancy while still very young, her family encouraged her to have an abortion. It was just “what you did” she told me. There was never any thought that she would have the child; it was taken for granted that she would take care of the problem. And she did. We didn’t meet until I was in the middle of my pregnancy with Leo and as I told her my story about choosing life, she shared her story with me. My heart broke for her. The pain caused by her abortion long ago was still present. Her abortion was encouraged and supported and yet the pain she carried was heavy in her heart and on her soul. Even though we chose differently, the pain that lingers in both of us is evident.

The Catholic Response

If we want to convince others of the horrors of abortion, we have to be willing to live what we preach. I found that were many who claimed to be pro-life and yet could not understand that even though I had 10 other children to take care of, I had no other choice but to offer my life for my son so that he had a chance to live. I found that, to some, our Catholic teachings maybe meant one thing on paper and another thing in real life.

Which is it? Do we believe that life is sacred and worth protecting or do we think that there are ifs, ands, and buts that supersede the teachings of our Catholic faith? If we truly believe that every life is sacred and worth saving, how are we working to help those who find themselves in crisis or unplanned pregnancies to choose life and to endure the hardships they are facing? Are we simply quoting Catechism passages and Bible verses or are we truly living out our call to help others understand and respect the life that God has blessed them with and then support them as they bring life into the world, regardless of the circumstance?

So far, this year in the United States alone there have been nearly 50,000 abortions performed. Friends, we are only 22 days into the New Year and nearly 50,000 babies have died because abortion is considered a valuable commodity in our country. How can this be ok? More importantly, what can we do about it?

It seems as if for now, legally, we don’t have much recourse to reverse Roe v. Wade and to make abortions illegal in our country. But we do have the ability to help women choose life. We have the ability to not only teach about the sanctity of life, but to live out those teachings by supporting women who find themselves in unplanned or crisis pregnancies. In order to help others respect life, we must first respect life. Not just the life of the baby, but the life of the mother, the father, and the entire family. We can’t just talk the talk, we must walk the walk.

  • We must teach our children that all life is sacred from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. We have to begin teaching them at a young age. Our children innately know and understand the sacredness of life and are horrified at the thought of someone killing another person, especially a baby. We must encourage their understanding and foster their love of all people.
  •  When we encounter someone who is experiencing a crisis or unplanned pregnancy we should meet them with love and hope, not judgment and condemnation. We should encourage them in their choice for life and support them as they go through pregnancy, birth, and family life. It’s easy to tell someone they should choose life and then never show our faces again. It’s more difficult to be an active participant in their lives, willing to help at every turn when possible.
  • Volunteer at a pregnancy center, at your church, at a homeless shelter, at a women’s shelter, a low income day care, or a soup kitchen- anywhere that provides services that a pregnant woman may need. If we don’t have the time to volunteer, we should financially support those programs that help women and families. Don’t worry about why they are in the position they are in, but simply love them enough to help them to better the situation they are in.
  • Be vocal in your support for life. Don’t be obnoxious, but be genuinely loving and kind as you explain why life is so precious and worth saving. There will be those who want to fight you… be strong in your faith and convictions but also in your love for those who think differently from you. The love we extend wins over more hearts and souls than hate ever could.
  •  Pray. Pray for the mothers, pray for the fathers, pray for the babies, and pray for the extended families. Spiritually adopt women who are considering abortions and offer up your hardships, your worries, and your own trials for their well-being and for their choice for life.
  • Offer a healing hug for those who have experienced abortion. Listen to their story, offer prayers, and don’t judge them. Guide them to understand that they are still loved and that they can be forgiven. Point them to resources that will help them through the pain that accompanies abortion- not the just the physical pain but the mental, emotional, and spiritual pains.
  • Work within your legal system to encourage our leaders to make new laws that focus on ending abortion and the need for abortions. Abortion is big business that lines the pockets of many and so it will be difficult to eradicate. But we have to continue our work to bring about those changes.

Today, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I ask that you pray with me for all those women who are facing crisis or unplanned pregnancies, for those who are facing medical emergencies in their pregnancies, for those who feel alone and abandoned in their time of need, and for all those who are facing a decision between life and death. Let God use us as His means to provide help and hope to those who need it most. I pray that God will wrap them in His arms and help them to see their worth, their child’s worth, and the joy that comes from choosing life.

If you or someone you know is facing a crisis pregnancy, please know that we are here for you. Reach out and we will do our best to put you in contact with those who can help you.

If you are in need of post abortion healing, please consider contacting Rachel’s Vineyard. They can help you find hope, healing, and peace.

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What My Pro Life Husband Taught Me

What My Pro Life Husband Taught Me

When I first met my husband Neil many moons ago on AOL, I knew there was something special about the family he came from. They were and still are very passionately vocal about religion and politics, and particularly both when they meet at the crossroads of defending life, especially the littlest among us in the womb. I saw immediately what a tight knit family entrenched in the pro-life movement looked like when Catholicism was leading the charge. His  family didn’t just talk the talk, they literally walked the walk. Each year in the bitter DC winters {at least by my wimpy Texas standards!}, because Neil grew up in Northern Virginia, his family joined the March and became the voice for the voiceless. Each evening before meals, the family prayed to spiritually adopt unborn babies who were in danger of abortion, and so comfortable was he with this worldview, that he brashly let pro-abortion candidates and their supporters know exactly what he thought of them, teenager style. 

MaryAnnabortiontableAnd that was just scratching the surface. His mom and dad taught NFP classes, welcomed unwed mothers into their home, and the big doozy – his momma bravely side-walk counseled in a time when it was not fashionable to be pro-life; it was just work that needed doing and with the support of her husband, she made it her life’s work to witness the culture of life to young and scared pregnant women who needed more than the false compassion of abortion. So much did her desire to save the unborn press upon her heart that it led to her being thrown NeilBabyTeein jail for defending life and even strapping herself to an abortion table in the 70s to save a baby; a baby Neil would later hold as a young boy in his arms. 

This was normal for the Kreitzer household. 

I never knew how necessary it was to have a man in my life who would be so passionately pro-life as he was and still is. I see how important it is for the men of our culture to be not just culturally pro-life, but deeply steeped in it as well. While the circumstances in his family can be portrayed as extreme by some, anyone can do something to defend life. We can start by walking in the annual march for life, but how much better would it be that we adopt a culture of  walking the march year round and being a firm, but compassionate supporter of both mother and child. Not once in all the years I have known my husband has he ever backed down on the defense for human life, Wordless Wednesday They chanted HAIL SATAN - True Story at the Capitol in Austin, Texas - July 2, 2013and for that, I am deeply grateful. It’s a steadfastness and foundational piece of our relationship that makes me so proud to be his wife. I could not have envisioned how much I loved that about him until the summer of 2013 when the special session was called in Texas after Cecile Richard’s political stunt. I went down to the Capitol several times with friends and with the children to show our support of pro-life legislation, but it wasn’t until a 15-passenger van filled with church friends who mobilized to the Capitol – after we were prayed over for protection from evil by two of our favorite priests – that I saw how disturbed Neil was after witnessing the vitriolic behavior of the pro-abortion crowd that had dominated the rotunda of the Capitol. He then understood how chilling the previous trips had been for me when I, along with a group of friends, was encircled by the infamous “hail Satan” woman and her crew. The March for Life experience over the years was nothing like what we witnessed, he would later share. 

The evil present was palpable. 

It wasn’t until we shared that evening together, unsure how friends were faring in different parts of the Capitol and wondering about each other’s safety as a fire weapon was discovered and were on lockdown as a result, that I began to understand what it really meant to be pro-life. 

It meant being comfortable with the uncomfortable, facing danger, facing taunts and accusations, being told that if you in any way disagree with a choice to abort, that your opinion is no longer valid. It means dealing with the head-swirling semantics gymnastics of the pro-abortion movement, where in one moment, they would spew derogatory comments toward people who happened to be white men because of their position on life and then in the same dizzying sentence show support for the men who supported abortion. 

I now see how deeply important it is for more men to hold this view and role in our families alongside their wives – unapologetic, vocal, and most importantly, true compassion. 

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of [baby’s name] the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion.”

– Prayer of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

 

 

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Every Child a Wanted Child

testWhen I saw the second pink line on the pregnancy test, I felt sick.

All the reasons why this pregnancy was a catastrophe went through my mind: I’m riddled with chronic back pain and severe fatigue…I’ve been taking pain meds every day…we’re in the middle of an international adoption…we can barely take care of the three little ones we have.

I could already hear my in laws’ reaction at the news we were expecting our fourth; we’d already gotten lectures with our third child about how we needed to “slow down.” Oh sure, we’d get the perfunctory congratulations on the phone, but privately I knew they’d tsk tsk over how foolish we were to be pregnant again. Especially since we could have avoided this extra burden with a neat and tidy outpatient procedure for my husband.

The thing was, though—I agreed with them: This baby was a burden and I really didn’t need this right now. Even more galling was that I was a trained NFP instructor. Not only that, but I was the NFP coordinator for the entire diocese! We’d used the most conservative rules of NFP, yet here I was with a bona fide “method failure” pregnancy on my hands.

My pride, however, made sure no one but me knew this was an unplanned pregnancy. The in laws were outright lied to: “Oh, I’ve been wanting another baby for a while now.” I put on my good Catholic girl face and excitedly told our fellow parishioners we were pregnant again. I accepted their congratulations with a smile, agreeing with them that we were just so blessed.

Privately, though…privately, I was mad as hell at God.

For weeks after finding out we were pregnant, I couldn’t pray or read Scripture or focus during the Mass. I made an appointment with our priest. While telling him about my spiritual struggles, I demanded to know how God could foist this surprise pregnancy on us. It didn’t help that I’d been hit with severe nausea and vomiting that was ten times worse than any of my previous pregnancies. Combined with the back pain and fatigue, I was physically destroyed most of the time and unable to do much of anything other than lay on the couch all day while my three kids foraged in the pantry for snacks and watched cartoons. “I’ve tried so hard to be a good Catholic, Father,” I whined. “So how can God pile even more suffering on me with this baby?”

Our priest was gentle, but firm: “You can’t work in the NFP ministry and tell people they ought to be open to life unless you’re prepared to live that out yourself,” he said. “This child is a chance to witness to the world that we Catholics value life even when it doesn’t come at a convenient time.”

As the weeks wore on, I tried to get more excited about being pregnant, at least for the sake of our children. Our oldest, who was seven at the time, was ecstatic we were having a baby. So once again, I put on a smile and talked baby names and planned for the nursery. But inside, I felt…flat. Though the resentment had faded, I just couldn’t muster the same enthusiasm for this baby that I had for the first three.

test2At 18 weeks, we went in for our regularly scheduled prenatal appointment. The nausea and vomiting had stopped a week earlier and we expected to find out the baby’s sex in a few weeks. The tech squirted warm gel onto my belly and after a few swipes of the wand, the outline of our child’s body took place. There, in hazy outlines, I could see his head, legs, and chest. I looked for the signature flash in the center of the torso, but the screen was a flat gray.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “There is no heartbeat.” And with that, we knew our child was gone.

Within seconds, hot, stinging tears flooded my eyes. I began to sob, as the loss settled onto my heart like a stone. I’d spent four months resenting that this baby existed and now the agony of losing him was eating me alive. The guilt was almost as overwhelming as the grief.

As we walked back to the car, my husband began to talk about funeral arrangements and I was shocked out of my numbness as the next later of darkness wrapped itself around my heart. We had lost our child. I was going to have to labor and deliver a dead baby. We would have to have a funeral for our baby. These terrifying thoughts swirled in my head and I felt exhausted, as if I had just run a very long race.

That evening, we told our children their sibling had died. In many ways, seeing our kids in emotional pain was even harder than getting the news ourselves. Our oldest clung to me, weeping tears of bitter disappointment. Only later would I realize the extent of her grief, as it would take her several years to fully process the loss.

Two days later, I went into the hospital and delivered our fourth child, Benedict Jordan. As I sat there in the hospital bed and held the lifeless body of my son, my knowledge about the sanctity of human life ceased to be intellectual, but instead became a truth I knew in my very bones. In a moment, all guilt evaporated, as I realized what a precious gift he was, even in death. I knew that I’d loved him after all, had always loved him, even if that love had lay hidden beneath my ugly, worldly selfishness.

As I stared at his perfectly-formed little body, at his slender arms and legs, his perfect little face…I knew my son was a person in his own right. My own feelings about him—whether he was planned or unwanted, whether his existence was greeted with the most fervent joy or with fear and loathing—none of that impacted his intrinsic value. Staring at him, I understood the foolishness of the slogan, “Every child a wanted child.” My son was a human being and that fact alone merited him a rightful place in our world, gave him value independent of whether he was “wanted” or not. In his silent features, I saw the truth about unborn children proclaimed loudly and unapologetically: “I want you to love me, but I don’t need you to…I’m valuable because I exist; I don’t exist because I’m valuable.”

In a week, our country will mark 41 years of abortion on demand. For more than four decades, we have allowed men and women to bestow personhood on their offspring; if their child is wanted, he’s a person and given all the rights and protections the rest of us enjoy. But if he isn’t, he can be disposed of like so much biological garbage. Something as nebulous and as subject as the parents’ feelings determine whether a child is named, sheltered, and welcomed or whether he is nameless, destroyed, and forgotten. This is a power that no human being ought to have over another, especially over the most vulnerable among us.

My son went on to God with his dignity completely unfazed by his mother’s selfishness, as does every child who is tragically aborted. May God give our people the grace to recognize and uphold the inherent sanctity of every human life, from conception to natural death.

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We Will Remember: How Being Chained to An Abortion Table Saved a Life

This month marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Once again on January 22nd, tens of thousands will march on Washington to commemorate the little ones whose blood drenches our poor country. We will march and pray for an end to the American holocaust – and we will remember. We must remember because memory is the gift future generations give to the martyred victims of the past.

In his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize lecture, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel emphasized the importance of remembering even when memories are so painful one longs to forget. He reminded his listeners of a Jewish historian, Shimon Dubnov who exhorted his companions in the Riga ghetto, most of whom were killed under the Third Reich’s policy of racial genocide, to “write it all down.” Wiesel tells us:

Overnight, countless victims became chroniclers and historians in the ghettos, even in the death camps. Even members of the Sonderkommandos, those inmates forced to burn their fellow inmates’ corpses before being burned in turn, left behind extraordinary documents. To testify became an obsession. They left us poems and letters, diaries and fragments of novels, some known throughout the world, others still unpublished.

The response to great atrocities, whether the Holocaust during World War II, the Rwandan massacres, or our own American Abortion Holocaust must be to remember. As Wiesel said, “We must remember the suffering…[and] struggle to invent a thousand and one reasons to hope.” The stories, especially those of hope,  not only respect the victims of the past, they give courage to new generations fighting to overcome the darkness of the present.

And so, I have a story to tell, a story of hope, a thirty-five year old story from the early days of the abortion holocaust when a handful of activists were trying to wake up the country, but primarily trying to save babies, one at a time, from the extermination camps on American soil.

My story begins on a hot July morning in 1977, a decade before the large protests of Operation Rescue in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Small groups of pro-lifers were “sitting in” at abortion mills around the country trying to save the babies in danger of imminent death. I was part of that early movement because, as a young mother of tiny children, my heart was wrenched by the murder of babies I considered siblings to my own. And so our little band went to the abortion mill of a man instrumental in overturning Washington, D.C.’s law against abortion, a man who set the stage and helped bring about Roe v. Wade.

Milan Vuitch was a Serbian immigrant, a member of the back alley butchers society who performed illegal abortions in his basement for years before legalization.While feminists portrayed illegal abortion with coat hangars, in reality many abortionists were doctors moonlighting on the side. Vuitch openly bragged about his actions and was arrested numerous times in D.C. without ever serving a  day in jail. After abortion was legalized, he simply moved his shingle from the back alley to an office building on I Street and named his mill the Laurel Clinic. But Vuitch continued to provide unsafe “back alley” services. After Roe guaranteed “safe legal abortions,” Vuitch killed two women, 17-year-old Wilma Harris in 1974 and 32-year-old Georgianna English in 1980 and he maimed many others. Vuitch, in fact, continued to be a controversial figure. In 1984, WDVM-TV won a Peabody Award for an expose by reporter Mark Feldstein showing numerous medical violations at the Laurel Clinic including filthy instruments, using questionable anesthesia drugs, and other dangerous practices. On one occasion Vuitch even sent a 17-year-old home with an incomplete abortion telling her to return with $400 before he would finish the procedure. He also instructed her not to go to the hospital, but she collapsed and was taken to the emergency room where she delivered a six-month-old premature baby who later died.

Vuitch always postured as a man holding the moral high ground claiming he only aborted for “medical reasons,” but it wasn’t true. He would abort for no reason or any reason. During the WDVM investigation, Feldstein had a female associate go for a pregnancy test using his urine. Vuitch staff told her she was, indeed, pregnant. It was all about the money!

Even before all this information came to light, Vuitch was notorious enough for our group to choose his facility for the sit-in. The plan that day included delaying our removal as long as possible giving pro-life counselors time to offer help and information to the mothers. How? By not only blocking the abortion rooms, but chaining ourselves to the tables.

We met at nearby St. Matthew’s Cathedral for Mass and prayed the mothers would choose life for their babies. Then we moved on to the “clinic” with chains and padlocks. Three women, myself included, were chained to operating tables in the abortion rooms. When asked later by media why we chained ourselves, I said the chains not only made it harder to remove us, but symbolized what abortion does to women, making them recyclable sex objects chained to the Playboy mentality.

During the sit-in one young woman left the clinic in tears. Her name was Linda and she met my friend Brigid among those picketing outside. Linda didn’t really want an abortion. Like many women, she felt forced by her circumstances. She told Brigid she knew the clinic staff were lying to her when they said the baby was “just a clump of cells.” Our presence and encouragement was all she needed to change her mind. Linda not only chose life for her baby that day, she later asked Brigid to be her little girl’s Godmother. And Baby Tee received a special gift from God. She was born on the fifth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, January 22, 1978, a confirmation of life on an anniversary of death.

So on January 22nd, 2013, the 40th anniversary of one of the blackest days in American history, a blaze of birthday candles will light up a cake. Tee will be 35 years old. Her birth was the end of a chapter on the impact of the early sit-ins, but only the beginning of a chapter on life and hope. Baby Tee made visible the reason we risked arrest and went to jail. Her life was more than worth it. But that isn’t quite the end of the story. I had the privilege of babysitting for Tee one day and snapped a photo of her sitting on my son Neil’s lap, two little children beloved by God and their mothers.

A quote from the Talmud reads, “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” The American abortion tragedy can be summed up in that quote. There are millions of stories of abortion, one for every baby killed and every baby who survives, one for every mother who chooses life and every mother who chooses death. There are stories for the abortionists and clinic workers who repent and there are stories for the pro-lifers who picket and counsel, who staff crisis pregnancy centers, and preach the truth to the culture of death.

We need to write those stories down and remember. As Elie Wiesel said, “I remember the killers, I remember the victims…. There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” And that’s why the pro-life movement will win in the end. Because those who stand for life will remember and protest. We will never give up or give in. We will never forget and we will never allow society to forget either, because to save one child is to save the whole world!

**Mary Ann Kreitzer is a co-founder of Les Femmes and the Catholic Media Coalition, organizations that defend the authentic Catholic Faith. She is a master catechist, a long-time pro-life activist, and a former Natural Family Planning teacher. She writes from the Shenendoah Valley of Virginia**

 

 

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Has Abortion Lived Up to Its Promises?

In less than two weeks, our nation will mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion-on-demand the law of the land. The milestone is causing many on both sides of the aisle to take a closer look at our changing political landscape and ask, “Does legal abortion have a future in America?”

As a recent article in Time magazine pointed out, ultrasound technology and medical advances have steadily chipped away at the public’s support of abortion, because the humanity of the unborn child has become increasingly undeniable. And while that’s good news, there’s still a barrier pro-life advocates haven’t seemed able to overcome, a reason people cite for keeping abortion legal that for many, trumps even the moral responsibility to protect innocent human life. And that’s the belief that abortion offers a pragmatic solution to our worst societal scourges.

Abortion may be evil, admit the honest pro-choicers, but it’s a necessary evil. We need it if we’re to keep other serious problems in check. Even before Roe v. Wade, abortion advocates have insisted that widespread access to abortion will mean “every child a wanted child,” which will reduce child abuse. Abortion will reduce crime, too, since those unwanted and impoverished children who often grow into criminals will never be born. It will also protect vulnerable women from being butchered by untrained abortionists cashing in on their desperation. Widespread abortion, we were promised, would lead to stronger women, stronger families, and a stronger society.

So has abortion lived up to its promises? The answer is a resounding “no.”

With nearly 50 million “unwanted” children eliminated via abortion since 1973, we should have seen child abuse plummet. But that’s not what has happened. In 2005, nearly a million children were victims of abuse and neglect, with experts estimating that three times that amount were actually abused. Almost 1,500 children died of their injuries that year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which reports that all types of child abuse have increased since 1980. For some reason, the plan to reduce crime by eliminating the potential victims just didn’t pan out.

Nor have we seen any positive impact on crime in general because of abortion. Interestingly, “progressive” states that legalized abortion prior to Roe v. Wade experienced consistently higher homicide rates nearly every year between 1976 and 1998, according to Yale University law professor John Lott and Australian economist John Whitley. Lott and Whitney found that legalizing abortion actually increased state murder rates by up to 7 percent. It seems that the plan to reduce crime by eliminating the potential perpetrators floundered, too.

And what about the women whose lives would be dramatically improved by abortion? How have they fared?

Contrary to the claims that thousands of women were dying from illegal abortion prior to Roe v. Wade, the American Medical Association reports that the figure for 1950 was actually 263, and that those numbers were even dropping, with 119 abortion-related deaths in 1970. Regardless, legal abortion was supposed to virtually eliminate the chance that a woman would be injured or killed during an abortion.

Today, however, providers who had great incentive to perform a medically competent abortion prior to Roe v. Wade now practice in medicine’s most unregulated specialty. In the book Lime 5, pro-life group Life Dynamics reported on the thousands of public records proving women are injured and killed every year by abortion. Just this week, the organization published controversial autopsy photos of a young woman who died during a botched abortion in a Pennsylvania clinic. Perhaps the most recent example of women being sacrificed to the altar of abortion rights is the case of abortionist Kermitt Gosnell, who was indicted in 2011 for some of the most egregious medical conduct imaginable…including the gruesome murders of at least eight babies born alive during attempted abortions in his Philadelphia clinic. We shouldn’t be surprised then, that a regional advisor to the World Health Organization admitted in 2005 that “up to 20 percent of maternal deaths are due to abortion, even in those situations where abortion is legal.”

It’s clear legalizing abortion has actually increased the risk to women’s health. As Gosnell discovered, even the most incompetent abortionist can count on abortion advocates to cover up the carnage they visit on unsuspecting women, who have been assured that abortion is safe because it’s legal. Case in point: former pro-choice governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge (R), ended regular inspections of abortion clinics in that state during his administration. Which meant that for nearly two decades, Gosnell’s house of horrors was allowed to operate unchecked, with warnings from patients, doctors, and public health employees repeatedly ignored.

Not that Pennsylvania is unique; many (most?) states have turned a blind eye to the abortion industry in the interest of protecting abortion access at all costs. My home state, Virginia, just passed legislation a few years ago finally requiring abortion clinics to meet the same medical standards as other free-standing clinics. In any other area of medicine, this lack of government oversight would instantly be considered unsafe and unacceptable, yet we’re willing to expose women seeking abortions to this kind of substandard medical care. Abortion advocates need to just say what they really mean: safe if possible, but legal regardless.

Not surprisingly, then, “complications following abortions performed in free-standing clinics is one of the most frequent gynecologic emergencies…encountered,” according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in February 1983. Twenty years later, nothing has improved, as the 2005 WHO report showed. Few people realize that even in the United States, legal abortion is actually the fifth leading cause of death for pregnant women. Far from protecting women, legal abortion is instead maiming and killing us–with impunity.

 

But abortion gives women control over their fertility and that’s empowering, abortion advocates insist. Yet for a choice that’s supposed to be so beneficial, it’s strange so many post-abortive women find the experience anything but positive. Countless studies show that women who abort have an increased incidence of depression, anxiety, and suicide. They’re at a greater risk for substance abuse, and often engage in years of uncharacteristically self-destructive behavior after their abortions. Many of these women, who were once pro-choice, are now speaking out against abortion. It seems that this “empowering” experience really leaves the vast majority of women feeling powerless, abandoned, and violated.

For 40 years, we’ve been told keeping abortion legal is both the practical and the compassionate choice for America. We were promised it would reduce problems such as child abuse and crime, that it would empower women and keep them safe from unscrupulous and greedy medical butchers. Abortion must remain legal, we’ve been told, because there are just so many practical benefits to be gained. Yet as the evidence clearly shows, abortion’s promises are as empty today as they were before Roe v. Wade. The practical, personal, and societal benefits of legal abortion never have and never will materialize, because a poisonous tree can’t bear good fruit. The social experiment called “legal abortion” is an abysmal failure. Let’s pray, sisters, that it doesn’t take our nation another four decades to rectify this costly mistake.