Reducing the U.S. abortion rate...
By encouraging pregnant
to choose childbirth over abortion
There are various approaches to reduce the abortion rate. Two of the most
- By legislation that makes abortions more difficult to obtain. Much of the pro-life
effort has been concentrated in this area. They have sponsored legislation
or regulations to:
The general goal is to make abortion "Safe, Legal and Unavailable,"
to quote the title of a book on this topic by Melody Rose. 1
- Prevent women under the age of 18 from having an abortion without
prior parental consent or notification.
- Criminalize the transporting of women under the age of 18 across
state lines to have an abortion.
- Requiring abortion providers to supply specific information to a woman
seeking an abortion.
- Requiring a woman to view an ultrasound of her embryo or fetus.
- Requiring a waiting period before a woman can obtain an abortion.
- Require abortion providers to meet unreasonably strict medical
- Through education that prevents pregnancies from
happening either by:
- Convincing students to choose abstinence.
- Providing sexually active or potentially active people with access
to contraceptives and information on their proper use.
- Creating a culture in which sexually active couples who are not in a
permanent relationship are expected to prevent pregnancy.
These approaches to reducing abortions are controversial. They immediately
trigger resistance by the pro-life movement, the pro-choice movement, and/or
religious and social conservatives.
However, there is a third path that may be used: to encourage
already-pregnant couples to choose childbirth instead of abortion. Many couples
would prefer to make this decision if certain roadblocks were removed and if
child raising were more affordable and feasable.
Governments around the world have encouraged childbirth through:
- Liberal pregnancy leave legislation.
- Reducing income taxes for parents.
- Making child care facilities more affordable and available.
- Providing special classes for pregnant students.
- Providing free pre-natal health care.
- Providing free health insurance for children.
- Removal of sales tax on children's clothing.
An example of federal legislation to encourage continuing pregnancies:
On 2008-SEP-26, Congress passed a bill to help parents of fetuses and babies
with genetic defects. It is designed to make childbirth a more desirable option by increasing support
to the parents before and after birth. Having access to sufficient emotional and
physical support might persuade some parents to continue their pregnancy rather
than choose abortion.
Prenatal tests nnow make it possible to identify fetuses that have defects in their
genetic structure that will cause mental retardation, deafness, early-onset
Alzheimer's disease, and a range of other diseases.
The New York Times wrote that:
"For many women and their partners, the decision to
terminate a pregnancy after a prenatal diagnosis of a serious genetic defect can
be harrowing, often coming after a painful assessment of their own emotional and
financial resources. ...
About 90 percent of women who learn they are carrying a fetus with the extra
21st chromosome that causes Down syndrome choose an abortion. Studies have shown
that many women choose to abort for diagnoses of less serious conditions."
In an unusual display of bi-partisanship, one of the most
conservative legislators in Congress -- Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) -- joined with one of
the most liberal, -- Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) -- and with one other
Democrat, one independent, and three other Republicans -- to cosponsor the
Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act. It passed
the senate on 2008-SEP-23 by unanimous consent. It passed the House two days
later by a voice vote. If signed by
President Bush, it will help provide up-to-date information to families that
receive an adverse prenatal genetic diagnosis. It will link them to support
services and networks that may be able to offer them continuing support.
- Melody Rose, "Safe, Legal and Unavailable? Abortion politics in the United
States," CQ Press, (2007). RRead
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
Sarahlyunn Lester, "Genetic Testing + Abortion = ???," New York Times,
- "Good News: Prenatal-Awareness Bill Heads to
President's Desk," CitizenLink.com, 2008-SEP-26, at:
- "S. 1810: Prenatally and Postnatally
Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act," Govtrack.us, at:
Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2008-SEP-29
Latest update: 2008-SEP-29
Author: B.A. Robinson