Abortion: A Rare Procedure?
Abortion is the most common surgical procedure performed in the United States. At least 1.2 million abortions are reported each year. In Texas, there were 77,811 reported abortions to our state health department in 2007; and over 80,000 reported to Guttmacher. Contrary to common perception, abortion is not rare and most likely has affected many people whom we know. By the age of 20, 1 in 7 women has undergone at least one abortion, and sadly, by age 45, 1 in 3 women has chosen to terminate.
Why Women Choose Abortion
Statistics show that most women are choosing abortions either because they do not have the money to support a child or because they are not ready for a responsibility that will change their lives so drastically. These reasons for abortion rarely reflect the common perception that abortions are only done when the life or health of the mother is at stake, for rape, incest, or life of the mother account for less than 5% of abortions. This is a sobering realization: abortion is used primarily as birth control.
Another influence for women choosing abortion is the law. When women were asked, “Did the knowledge that abortion is legal influence your opinion about the morality of choosing abortion?,” 70% said the law played a major role in their moral perception. David Reardon of the Elliott Institute concluded, “While most aborting women have a negative moral view of abortion, they find comfort and grounds for rationalization in the socio-legal status of abortion. Some even doubt their own moral values, thinking, ‘If it’s legal, then it must be alright.’ ” (Aborted Women Silent No More , 13)
A better understanding of why women choose abortions affords better outreach and assistance to pregnant women. First, since many women think they do not have the resources to care for their children, we must either help them secure those resources or remind them that adoption is a noble option. Many organizations specialize in the care of women who are pregnant and scared, such as local pregnancy resource centers, Birthright, CareNet, and other Pro-Life agencies; many can be found in the “Abortion Alternatives” section in your yellow pages.
Also, since the law is such a great teacher, we must support legislation that enables women to be more informed when they are facing an unexpected pregnancy. Texas has passed the “Parental Consent Act” (which keeps families involved in a minor's life-altering decisions), the “Woman’s Right to Know Act” (which gives women facts about abortion alternatives, fetal development, and the medical risks of abortion), and is currently working hard to pass “The Ultrasound Bill” (which will allow women seeking abortion to see an ultrasound of their unborn child). It is important to continue supporting such legislation.
Finding ways to address the specific needs of women is vitally important if we want to reduce abortion in our society and move towards a true Culture of Life. Pregnancy resource centers save women and children from the violence of abortion every day. Pro-Life legislation teaches women and families that their health and well-being are important while also starting to change hearts and minds. Texas’s teen abortion rate dropped by 20% in 2000—the first year our “Parental Notification Act” was implemented. These are proven solutions that garner support from a majority of Americans. We must continue to fight the culture of death by promoting life-affirming choices for women.
Why Women Choose Abortion
Not ready for a child or more children; timing is wrong 25%
Cannot afford a baby now 23%
Children are grown; woman has all the children she wants 19%
Problems with relationship; unmarried 8%
Too young; not mature enough 7%
Interfere with education or career plans 4%
Woman has health problem 4%
Baby has possible health problems 3%
Pregnancy caused by rape 0.5%
Husband or partner wants woman to undergo abortion 0.5%
Parents want pregnant daughter to have abortion 0.5%
Do not want people to know I had sex/got pregnant 0.5%
[source: “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives,” by Lawrence B. Finer et al., of the Guttmacher Institute (2004).]