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Religious Tolerance logo

Abortion access

Overview of abortion: An
apparently unsolvable dilemma?

Part 3 of 3:

Conflicting beliefs about
abortion access (Cont'd).
Status of the pro-life and
pro-choice groups, &
abortion access in the U.S. & Canada:

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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Conflicting beliefs about abortion access (Continued):

  • Some would only allow legal abortions in one or more of the following situations:
    • If an abortion is needed to save the life of the woman, or

    • To prevent the woman from experiencing permanent disability, or

    • To prevent the woman having serious health problems.

    • When the fetus is so malformed that it will only live a matter of hours after birth.

    • When the fetus has a serious chromosome abnormality -- e.g. those that cause Down Syndrome.

    • When the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

    Again, few if any polls ask these questions.

  • A small minority believe that all abortions should be banned, even if needed to save the life of the mother. According to the same polls, between 12% and 25% of American adults held this position. We feel that it is naive for the media to imply that there is a unity of belief within the pro-life and within the pro-choice movements.

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Status of the two groups and of abortion access in the U.S.:

The pro-life and pro-choice movements are both powerful and active. Pro-life groups are particularly influential at the state level and have successfully persuaded legislators and governors to create many state laws that restrict abortion. Many of the laws have been ineffectual; they are so broadly worded that court injunctions suspend them shortly after having been signed into law. Courts often find that these laws are so vaguely worded that physicians are unable to determine whether a specific act is allowed or prohibited. Those laws which survive court challenges are not particularly effective; they often merely have the effect of generating a delay before a woman can obtain an abortion, or of making it more probable that women seeking an abortion will go to a nearby state.

Approval of the abortion drug RU-486 has forever change abortion in America. Doctors are now able to prescribe the pills and women may be able to take the pill at their homes. Rural women will not have to drive long distances to abortion clinics. Women will not have to run the gauntlet of abortion protestors.

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2018-NOV-23: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report on abortion numbers in the U.S.:

Their report dealt with abortions during 2015. They found:

  • The total number of surgical abortions was 638,169. This included: "surgical abortions, intrauterine instillations, medical [non surgical] abortions, and hysterectomies/hysterotomies. (Intrauterine instillations refers to "... a rarely used method of late term abortion, performed by injecting a solution into the uterus.") 13
  • The rate of abortions was 11.8 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (15 to 44 years)
  • The ratio of abortions was 188 abortions per 1,000 live births. 14,15

During 2014, six women died as a result of complications from legally induced abortions in the U.S.

Unfortunately, these numbers are underestimates because individual states are not required to report abortion information to the CDC. California, Maryland, and New Hampshire have not reported data for at least eight years.

During the interval 2006 to 2016:

  • The total number of abortions dropped by 24%.
  • The rate of abortions dropped by 26%.
  • The ratio of abortions dropped by 19%. 14,15

Various factors are believed to have driven these numbers lower:

  • Higher levels of comprehensive sex education in schools.
  • Greater use of contraceptive to prevent conception.
  • Fewer abortion clinics. Seven states have only one clinic in operation.
  • Availability of the "morning after pill" that prevents conceptions.
  • Availability of cheap test strips that detect very early pregnancy.
  • Greater availability of RU-486 medication from physicians that terminate early pregnancies without surgery.
  • Increasing number of pro-life pregnancy care centers whose goal is to discourage women from having abortions.
  • Ultrasound technology which persuades many women to not have an abortion.
  • Increased number of abortion-restricting state laws: 260 during the previous five years and over 540 since the year 2010.

The CDC also reported on when during pregnancy surgical abortions were performed in 2015. They found:

  • 65% were performed on embryos (8 weeks gestation or less gestation).
  • 35% were performed on fetuses (more than 8 weeks gestation).
  • 92% were performed before 21 weeks gestation. This is about three weeks before the fetus' higher brain functions first turn on and the fetus is able to sense its environment to some degree.
  • 59.3% of abortions were performed on women who had had one or more previous live births.
  • 56.3% of abortions were performed on women who had never had a previous abortions.

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Status of the pro-life and pro-choice groups and of abortion access in Canada:

The pro-life movement lost most of its church funding after some groups started to harass abortion providers in the vicinity of their homes. This also generated fear among the families and neighbors of the providers. During the late 1990's, two Canadian pro-life groups lost their charitable status with Revenue Canada because of excessive political activity.

Abortion protests now fail to attract large numbers of supporters. The groups now do little more than conduct candlelight vigils, and issue press releases. One exception is the annual March for Life which is held at the nation's capital in Ottawa, Ontario each May. After the 2017 march, Life News reported that:

"... an estimated 25,000 people [had] attended [in 2016], and organizers hoped to break the record this year. ..."

"Photos and social media posts ... indicate that the [2017] crowd size probably did break the record, but LifeNews could not find an official estimate. The CBC reported 'hundreds” of people attended the march, but mainstream news outlets tend to vastly underestimate March for Life numbers." 11

Abortion access is rarely is discussed in the media. The country has many laws that promote the safety of abortions, but has no law that regulates access to abortion. That function has been taken over by provincial and territorial medical associations which have regulations that limit how late in pregnancy an abortion can be performed and for what reasons.

In recent years, social and religious conservatives have been forging strong bonds with the Conservative Party of Canada, similar to the formation of the Moral Majority and Religious Right movements in the U.S. during the late 20th century. Prior to 2015-OCT, the Conservative Party had insufficient members in the Canadian Parliament, and was only been able to influence laws and regulations on relatively minor moral issues, like:

    • Terminating foreign aid relating to abortion.

    • Gutting government funding to various women's movements in the country.

    • Terminating funding programs that had enabled groups to challenge government human rights violations through the courts.

    • Unsuccessfully attempting to re-open debate on same-sex civil marriage (a.k.a. gay marriage) in Parliament.

The Christian Heritage political party is strongly pro-life. However, it only fielded 30 candidates among the available 338 seats in Parliament, only received 0.09% of the public vote and failed to elect a single candidate. 12

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At the 2015-OCT federal election, the Liberal Party of Canada regained its majority position. Abortion access appears secure. However, if the Conservative Party were able to obtain a majority in the House of Commons in the future, then it is quite probable that the Conservatives would quickly tackle major moral issues, by:

  • Re-establishing the death penalty.

  • Restricting or eliminating abortion access.

  • Terminating future gay marriages and perhaps forcibly divorcing existing same-sex couples.

and perhaps even

  • Re-criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual behavior.

Canada's political system is structured very differently from the U.S. These major moral issues must be fought on a state-by-state basis in the U.S., but can be changed simultaneously in every province and territory across Canada by a single federal law.

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References used:

  1. American statistics are listed by Baptists for Life, Inc. at: http://www.bfl.org/stats
  2. Canadian statistics are listed by Action Life (Ottawa) Inc. at: http://www.ncf.carleton.ca/
  3. Bob Enyart is an extremely conservative talk show host. He has a "Bob Enyart Live Abortion Clock" on his web site. It lists the total number of legal abortions that have been performed since 1973. See: http://www.enyart.com/
  4. Carl Sagan, "Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium: Chapter 15" Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store Chapter 15 has been reprinted at: http://www.2think.org/
  5. S. Boyd, "Give us liberty: The approval of RU-486 isn't about morals, it's about options," Salon.com at: http://www.salon.com/  (This may be a temporary posting)
  6. A.T. Hyman, "The 'A' Word." This is an essay on the legal aspects of the abortion debate. See: http://members.aol.com/
  7. Nellie Gray, president of March for Life, at the 28th annual March for Life, 2001-JAN-22.
  8. "Constitution Party supports statewide abortion ban," Stop Abortion in Ohio, undated, at: http://www.ohioabortionban.com/
  9. "Sanctity of Life," Platform, Constitution Party at: http://www.constitutionparty.com/
  10. Marci McDonald, "The Armageddon Factor," Random House Canada. Released 2010-MAY-11.
  11. Micaiah Bilger, "Thousands of Pro-Lifers Flood the Streets in Canada’s March for Life," 2017-MAR-11, at: http://www.lifenews.com/
  12. "Canadian Federal Election 2015," Wikipedia, as on 2017-MAY-15, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  13. Tom Strode, "Abortion decline calls for ongoing pro-life effort," Baptist Press, 2018-DEC-06, at: http://www.bpnews.net/
  14. "Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2015," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2018-NOV-23, at: https://www.cdc.gov/

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Copyright © 1996 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated 2017-MAY-15
Author: Bruce A Robinson

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