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The Catholic Standard and Times
Newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Respect Life Issue
September 26, 2002

Is It Pro-Choice or No-Choice? Women Deserve Better



A young coed has just discovered that she is pregnant. She tells her boyfriend, who says he is not ready to settle down and doesn't want the child, nor does he foresee any way that he could support the child should she decide to have it. Instead, he offers to pay the $300 abortion fee.

The woman, who has just started college, is now alone with her child growing inside her. She has been abandoned, at least emotionally, by the man with whom she was having a relationship. She looks for some way to survive without him, but the campus offers few services for pregnant students and her parents would not understand. Her only "choice" seems to be among the several local abortion clinics.

She arranges to have an abortion, but is never able to have a face-to-face interview with the physician who will perform the procedure. In fact, she isn't given any opportunity to discuss the risks of abortion, especially those concerning women with a prior history of depression such as herself. Eighteen months after she aborts her child, she makes an unsuccessful attempt at suicide. Sadly, this act of desperation finally wins her the help she so sorely needed before.

This story is true - not for just one woman - but for thousands, and it's causing women across America to become increasingly disenchanted with a movement that failed to address the same two factors that drove them to abort 30 years ago - lack of emotional support and financial insecurity.

Serrin Foster, President of Feminists for Life, echoed these concerns, "Forty million abortions are a reflection that we have failed women..."

She's right, and even Planned Parenthood's research group, the Alan Guttmacher Institute, agrees with her. According to the Institute, the two primary reasons women seek abortions today are the same as they were before Roe v. Wade -- women are either abandoned or pressured by the father or lack the financial resources to support the baby on their own, or both.

However, the more modern example cited above indicates that what abortion-on-demand has really gained women is a new slate of medical and emotional problems. These problems are the result of poorly regulated clinics that were created to make legal abortion safer for women.

Cathleen Cleaver of the Pro-life Secretariat of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops commented at a recent Capital Hill briefing, "Abortion is the most common surgery in the nation, and yet it is the least regulated and researched."

Like the woman in the above example, many women never see the doctor who will perform their abortions until they're in the operating room. Any mention of a compromising medical condition, such as a history of depression, will have to be gleaned from admission forms that may or may not be thoroughly read. As is the case in too many clinics, women are not given full disclosure of the known risks of abortion, including the well-documented psychological risks.

In an attempt to cut through the prevailing media spin on the abortion issue, many women's organizations, including Feminists for Life, are fighting to win better choices for women. Some of their efforts include:

1. Proposing new laws that will strengthen child-support enforcement and paternity establishment so that men cannot coerce women into having abortions by threatening to abandon them.

2. Pushing for federal funding for credible pregnancy resource centers. At present, there are more than 4,000 centers in the U.S. that provide, food, housing, clothing, legal assistance, employment and education assistance as well as pre-natal and medical assistance - all at no charge to women. But these centers rely mostly on donations, while Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers receive federal funding.

3. Demanding stricter regulation of abortion clinics. Questionable medical practices are escaping notice, such as those discovered in a recent law suit filed against Planned Parenthood by a worker who was fired for not complying with her job requirement of assisting during abortions, even though she had no prior medical training.

Connie Mackey, Vice President of the Family Research Council asks, "Why do we have tough regulations for veterinary clinics but allow abortion clinics to go unregulated? The lack of inspections and reporting requirements is unacceptable."

4. Educating society about the myth of the so-called "safe, legal abortion." The pro-abortion slogan - Abortion is many times safer than childbirth - is dangerously misleading because it completely ignores the high rates of other physical and psychological complications associated with an abortion. Some of these major risks include:

SUICIDE OR DEATH: In a recent study of pregnancy-associated deaths in Finland, the risk of dying within a year after an abortion is 76% higher than the risk of dying after miscarriage or childbirth. The risk of suicide among teenaged girls increases 10-fold after abortion -- 0.4% for girls who did not abort compared to 4% for teens who had aborted. See

It is also worth noting that the suicide rate among women in China is the highest in the world, with 56% of the world's female suicides occurring there. China is the only country in the world where more women die from suicide than men. It is also the only country in the world where women are forced to be sterilized or to have abortions to comply with the country's one-child policy.

MENTAL ILLNESS: In non-death related cases, a recent study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry revealed that women were 63% more likely to receive mental health care within 90 days of an abortion compared to women who gave birth. Over the past four years, abortion was most strongly associated with treatments for neurotic depression, bipolar disorder, adjustment reactions and schizophrenic disorders. (See Elliott Institute at

SUBSTANCE ABUSE: Heavier drinking and substance abuse are well-documented aftereffects of abortion.

INFERTILITY: The risk of infertility and increased miscarriage rates have long been recognized as resulting from abortion.

BREAST CANCER: Even the American Cancer Society identifies abortion as a possible risk for breast cancer. (

Right to Know laws, such as those currently in effect in Pennsylvania, are being passed in many states to provide women with full disclosure of these and other complications associated with abortion. Although abortion clinics do caution women, they are not specific about the possible dangers and use language such as "rare" and "inconsistent and inconclusive" about studies such as those cited above. Right to Know Laws will force abortion clinics to provide realistic information to their clients.

"Women deserve better," Serrin Foster said, and it's tough to argue with her.

When put to the test, one can't help but wonder if the abortion industry slogan should be "pro-choice" or "no choice'?"



Priests for Life
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Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 •