30 Years of Roe v. Wade: Death, Deceit, Depression

Thirty years later and what do we have to show for virtually unlimited abortion rights? A history of death and deception, along with a marred public conscience and countless broken lives of abortion "survivors," according to many. But let us not forget the estimated 40 million pre-born babies with no chance at life. First, the promised liberation of women from abuse and the utopia of "every child a wanted child" remains unrealized and, in many ways, has been borne the opposite fruit. Secondly, the inhumane aftermath of severe depression, related health problems and suicide among post-abortive women continues to be well-documented. Thirdly, the allegedly fraudulent legal basis of the defining cases for abortion, the (in)famous Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton cases, has come back to haunt us. The plaintiffs of both landmark decisions - now Christians - seek to overturn the cases with the claim that they were both pawns.

Where do we stand? The Pro-Life movement has moved from abortion clinic confrontations to a movement characterized mostly by legislative, legal and educational efforts, along with abortion-prevention counseling and post-abortion aid to the "second victims of abortion," women. The American public is slowly but steadily becoming less prone to support abortion, especially if unrestricted. A 2001 USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll announced that Americans who identify themselves as pro–choice are now officially in the minority at 48 percent, down from a high of 56 percent in 1996. Sixty percent of nurses say that they would not work in an OB/GYN unit where any kind of abortions were performed, whereas 52 percent a decade ago said they would. And only 37 percent of nurses who work in obstetrics or nurseries say they would work in abortion–performing units, down 18 percent from 1988.

The laws of the land regarding abortion now consist of a matrix of state and federal codes. The 90's saw a trend toward restrictions on the state level (parental consent and notice laws in 46 states) and a corresponding decline of one-third the number of abortions in those states with parental consent laws. There was a similar marked decrease in states where parents had to be notified of abortion plans for their minor daughters. The state-level battles began in earnest in 1992 when the Supreme Court, in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, upheld Pennsylvania's abortion restrictions, including parental notification, a 24-hour waiting period, and mandatory pre-abortion counseling. Pro-Life advocate groups like the American Center for Law and Justice foresee the battle staying at state level.

Women's views on abortion show a complicated mix of general opposition and grudging allowance of the right for others' sake. Paul F. Swope, in a review of Speaking of Abortion: Television and Authority in the Lives of Women suggests that the Pro-Life movement has missed this point, writing, "[An] emphasis on the individual context in which abortion decisions are made has been a key to the pro–abortion strategy all along because pro–choicers realize that, for vulnerable women in our modern culture, anecdote trumps abstraction, and individual differences trump principle." Perhaps, as Swope says, traditional "Pro-Life" and "Pro-Choice" labels matter little to the primary audience: women. Those who would persuade women of the growing evidence and sociological arguments against abortion do well to mind these perceptions.

Meanwhile, amazing advances in technology - like 4-dimensional sonograms that show lifelike movement in the womb - and intra-uterine corrective surgery continue to belie the long-dead claims that unborn babies are simply "products of conception."

Health concerns provide one more reason to question the Supreme Court's insistence that it had no choice than to provide abortion rights for the sake of women in our culture. From the parade of studies showing an increase in breast cancer rates to the proliferation of depression and suicide among post-abortive women, the interests of women seem to be negated, rather than ensured, by abortion-on-demand. In fact, the early feminists spoke vociferously against abortion as the epitome of the abuse of women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the original feminist, on abortion: "When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit. There must be a remedy even for such crying evil as this (abortion). But where shall it be found? At least, where begin, if not in the complete enfranchisement and elevation of women." Susan B. Anthony, another early suffragette and women's rights activist, spoke prophetically of abortion, saying, "The woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life. It will burden her soul in death." (Anthony even more heartily decried men who would force women into this desperate act as "thrice guilty.")

Findings you may not hear from popular sources (from Special Report: Roe at 30, Citizen, January 2003):

A web of deceit surrounds every aspect of the abortion lobby, from day one. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who completed or participated in thousands of abortions and who was at the fore of the early abortion rights movement, recalls how glibly he and his colleagues made up cherished euphemisms of the nacent Pro-Choice movement. He was fully cognizant of the fact that, if they could "own" the language surrounding the issue, they would shape the public's views. What about the mantra of rape and incest? According to Planned Parenthood's own research arm, about 13,000 abortions each year are attributed to rape and incest—representing a mere 1 percent of all abortions (Guttmacher Institute, 2001). Even smaller numbers represent cases where abortion was indicated to save the mother's life, despite the fact that saving the mother has served as a pillar for apologists of unfettered abortion rights.

Even a major court case involving Pro-Life protestors has reputedly been tried based on fabrications, according to recent reports from World magazine. Clinic employees may have perjured themselves about alleged violence perpetrated against them in cases that have made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court, reports World. After the high court reviews whether clinic protestors from cases in years past could be equated with extortionists and racketeers, other courts may well review new evidence in the same cases that testimony by the plaintiffs has been shown inconsistent with earlier statements and downright suspect. These claims of fabrication are supported by footage and film taken during the protests. (See: www.worldmag.com/world/issue/10-05-02/cover_1.asp.)

Now, the very foundation of both the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton cases - the cornerstone judgements ensuring unfettered rights to abortion-on-demand - have been undermined by the actual plaintiffs in both cases. According to an article published in Focus on Family magazine, 30 Years of Lies, the plaintiff for the Roe v. Wade case, Norma McCorvey, never even got an abortion after lying to her lawyers about being gang-raped. "When she found out the case went all the way to the Supreme Court and resulted in legalizing abortion in all 50 states, she was stunned" and attempted suicide, writes Tom Neven. Sandra Cano, the "Doe" of the companion case known as Doe v. Bolton, claims that she was played as a pawn by her lawyer, who surreptitiously had her sign an affadivit stating that "she had applied for an abortion, had been turned down and had therefore sued the state of Georgia.... This is a lie," states Cano. She was even opposed to abortion, so the case was not even representative of her views. Both women have begun new lives as followers of Christ and are seeking to have their infamous cases overturned as part of a campaign called Operation Outcry.

And then there are the controversial cases of Planned Parenthood employees caught on tape keeping secret the supposed incidence of statutory rape when a Pro-Life activist called feigning a crisis pregnancy.

We have marshalled resources to help gain a backward view of this 30-year war, assess the current state of affairs briefly and get a few glimpses toward the future. Whether you are Pro-Life oriented, a Pro-Life activist, Pro-Choice or undecided, check out this collection of resources. Your feedback is welcome.

—Byron Barlowe, Editor/Webmaster, Leadership University

Feature Articles:

Common-Sense Answers to Arguments for Abortion
Dr. Norman L. Geisler
Eminent Christian apologist and author Dr. Norman Geisler examines 14 common arguments for abortion and presents logical answers.

Roe v. McCorvey
Roe No More Ministry
Norma McCorvey with Gary Thomas

Testimonial of the namesake in the Roe v. Wade case that shares the first-person story of the person who was used to kick off the greatest systematic elimination of humans since Stalin. "I could out-cuss the most crass of men and women; I could out-drink many of the Dallas taverns' regulars; and I was known for my hot temper. When pro-lifers called me a murderer, I called them worse. When people held up signs of aborted fetuses, I spit in their face. I had a reputation to protect, after all. As the plaintiff in the infamous Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, my life was inextricably tied up with abortion." So begins Norma (a.k.a. Jane Roe) McCorvey's story of her personal journey.

Revenge of Conscience
Professor J. Budziszewski
Budziszewski adroitly examines the cultural slide of the mid-90s, the digression of morality and associated language-games while holding out some hope for change--repentance. Based on the book by the same title.

30 Years' War
Bob Jones in World

As Roe turns 30, are medical facts and a determined pro-life movement causing legalized abortion to show its age—or is it just becoming more entrenched? While others debate the question, abortion opponents quietly legislate, litigate, and demonstrate compassion.

Legal and Public Policy Articles:

First Roe, Now Doe: The Legal Facade Crumbles
Roy Maynard in World
The plaintiff in the other key 1973 abortion case, Doe vs. Bolton, publicly recants the false story the Supreme Court believed, saying, "This case was based on lies." She never even believed in abortion.

The Public Policy of Casey v. Planned Parenthood
Michael G. Smith
The Court asserts in effect that the unborn child has no real nature, that what it is solely a matter of conventions concerning names (nomina in Latin). Yet the moment of birth is assumed to mark an essential difference, a real (not merely conventional) transition to a living entity, human in nature. In the past twenty–five years, this "birth wall" has been largely dismantled or, to use appropriately the more fashionable expression, "deconstructed." That is, the purely nominal character of the birth difference has become increasingly accepted by those on both sides of the abortion debate. My purpose here is to elucidate this shift and to show the possibilities and perils of our emerging legal world.

How Not to Overturn Roe v. Wade
Paul Benjamin Linton

Several organizations, including the National Foundation for Life and the Texas Justice Foundation, have undertaken litigation that is intended to overturn Roe v. Wade and establish the legal personhood of the unborn child. This strategy suffers from many analytical and methodological errors, according to Linton.

The Supreme Court 2000
Robert P. George
Abortion is pure destruction. It destroys the human beings whose lives are snuffed out in utero. It is destructive of the interests of women who are so very often, and in so many respects, truly abortion’s “secondary victims.” And, as Scalia does not tire of remarking, it has proven to be destructive of the institutions of American democratic self–government and, indeed, the basic integrity of our constitutional system. Abortion’s record is one of taint and damage to everything it touches.

The America We Seek: A Statement of Pro-Life Principle and Concern
Signed by various Pro-Life advocates, authors and educators
An eloquent apologetic for the Pro-Life position, albeit seven years old. Though a statistic here and there may be out-of-date, this explanation covers the nation's troubled conscience, victims of the then-unlimited license of abortion, the negative public affect chiefly seen through the courts and other institutions and a view to the future. It offers a thorough view of this majority position, concluding with an invitation for Americans of all viewpoints to join in the momentous debate, working not only to help women in crisis and their offspring, but to heal a society broken, in some real part, by the license of taking unborn life.

Drawing Pro-Life Lines
Nathan Schlueter
Schlueter seeks to navigate the subtleties of the pro-life stance as it meets political realities. Shall one vote for a winnable candidate who does not share the depth of one's convictions on abortion or remove oneself from the process so as not to be complicit in evil, given said candidate's weak stand on abortion? Schlueter contends that to say "that it is morally illicit to vote for a candidate who supports abortion, even in limited cases, while immensely attractive for those who feel deeply the horror of abortion (as I do), is based on a principle that is deeply flawed and therefore politically dangerous. In the seductive guise of moral purity, it represents a failure to distinguish between degrees of cooperation in moral choice and collapses an ethic of political choice into an individual ethic."

Medical/Psychological Issues Related to Abortion:

Physical and Psychological Complications of Abortion (A Series):
The woman is a second victim of abortion. Physical and psychological damage caused by abortion has been well-documented. We will look at how to begin the healing process when a woman comes to realize how far-reaching her decision was and wonders if there is any hope of making her situation better.

Part 1: Post-Abortion Syndrome
Part 1 of the Physical and Psychological Complications of Abortion. Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS) is a term that has been used to describe the emotional and psychological consequences of abortion. Whenever we go through a traumatic experience, without the opportunity to process the experience emotionally, we can expect a delayed negative reaction. This article examines Post-Abortion Syndrome.
Part 2: The Tasks of Healing
Part 2 of the Physical and Psychological Complications of Abortion. This article explores ways a woman can begin the healing process.
Part 3: Post-Abortion Problems: Resource List
Part 3 of the Physical and Psychological Complications of Abortion. This article lists several resources to help women through the complications of overcoming the abortion process.
Part 4: Procedural Risks & Complications
Part 4 of the Physical and Psychological Complications of Abortion. This article explains the process and potential complications of surgical and chemical abortions.
Part 5: The Second Victims of Abortion
For every child who dies in an abortion there is at least one other victim - the mother of that child. Many women find they have not only allowed the destruction of the lives of their children but also damage to their own lives.

Medicalizing Abortion Decisions
Thomas Murphy Goodwin

The author, a physician himself, argues that the medical community has a crucial bias with regard to the abortion issue. More specifically, this bias consists in bringing political aspects of the abortion issue into the medical decision-making process. To build his case, Goodwin points out the scarcity of cases in which pregnancy poses a genuine health risk to the mother. He also uses five case studies, taken from his own experience, in which abortions were unnecessarily recommended by other doctors as a therapeutic procedure.

Abortion, Breast Cancer, and Ideology
Joel Brind

Many studies over the decades have linked induced abortion to an increased risk of breast cancer in women. In spite of their substantial statistical evidence, however, these studies have been ignored and criticized by the medical establishment. On what basis do they attempt to undermine these consistent research findings?

Does the Fetus Feel Pain?
From Texans for Life's Web site, which provides broad, practical information from a Pro-Life perspective. Summary of a presentation given by Dr. Paul Ranalli entitled Pain, Fetal Development, and Partial-birth Abortion. One surprising fact: "A 20-30 week old fetus actually will feel more pain than an adult."

Women's Mental Health Declines After Abortion While Childbirth Helps: Two New Studies (2000)
From Texans for Life's Web site, which provides broad, practical information from a Pro-Life perspective. Cites two studies that contradict the popular notion that abortion benefits women. Rather, they both show that abortion greatly increases the risk of psychological problems, including substance abuse.

Fetal Psychology
Janet L. Hopson
Behaviorally speaking, there's little difference between a newborn baby and a 32-week-old fetus. A new wave of research suggests that the fetus can feel, dream, even enjoy "The Cat in the Hat." The abortion debate may never be the same. This article explores fetal alertness, fetal movement, fetal taste, fetal hearing, fetal vision, fetal learning, and fetal personality.

Related Articles and Reviews:

College Right-to-Life Handbook
Andrew A. Siicree
This handbook is intended to serve as a resource for college students working to bring the Right-to-Life movement to their campuses. It is meant to be a practical, working manual - with a smattering of pro-life theory for good measure.

Winning Hearts and Minds
Book Review of Speaking of Abortion: Television and Authority in the Lives of Women
Reviewed by Paul F. Swope

Swope discusses Press and Cole's sociological study of the dynamic between ordinary women's opinions on abortion and how abortion is presented on television. Despite the decidedly multiculturalist, feminist viewpoint of the authors, Swope says,"...Speaking of Abortion could prove to be a valuable resource to pro–lifers engaged in the battle of persuasion."

Other Sites and Past Special Focus Collections:

Information-rich site that details myths surrounding the whole topic of abortion, including court cases and medical studies.

Focus on the Family Research Papers
"Abortion" is the first topic in this listing of footnoted essays and articles.

Leadership University Special Focus: Culture of Death
As our nation passes the 25th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand in all 50 states, perhaps this is an appropriate moment to reflect upon the significance of this most famous and controversial of modern constitutional cases. The road from Roe has been long, complicated and emotional. What revealing cultural signs may we view today as symbols of its now quarter-century-long legacy? Do we in fact live in what some have designated as the "Culture of Death"?

Leadership University Special Focus: Sanctified Life
Sanctity of Human Life Week celebrates the value of all human life as sacred. We explore the broad ethical implications of abortion, and sister issues like euthanasia and fetal research in our Special Focus.

We would love to get your feedback on this special focus. Please tell us what you think.

Go here to see our past Special Focus features.