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More Laws = More Abortions (Wed Oct 6, 2004 3:43 pm)

As a retired physician suggests in a letter to the editor of AMERICA (Oct. 4), making abortion a crime again may actually promote more abortions. According to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both the rate and number of abortions have steadily declined in the past five years. One factor in this decline points to the significant number of women who, after counseling or viewing the ultrasound, turn away from the procedure and go on to carry the pregnancy to term. If abortion should be made illegal again, these services would no longer be mandatory, thus denying women the opportunity and help to make better informed decisions about their choice, and would tend to encourage them to return to the questionable and sometimes deadly underground abortion providers or unsupervised use of abortifacients.

Should not this information give pause to those who seek to reinstate laws against abortion? Even the most well-intentioned politicians and clergy would be well advised to reevaluate their support for laws against abortion. They have not worked in the past and the data indicates that eliminating services to women seeking abortion would only decrease the number who change their mind and give birth.

What are about? Preventing abortions or passing laws? As Catholic bishops become aware of this correlation, we encourage them to reconsider their efforts to restore illegal abortions (and the data suggests that this would occur should they be successful). Their persistence in light of this data gives rise to questions about their ability to change, or their motives.

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