Too often Right to Life forces have ignored a crucial element in the debate over the legalization of abortion. While they have correctly supposed that the true stake in the matter lies with the unborn child, they have mistakenly supposed that the rights of the mother would have to be sacrificed in order to assure the baby’s survival. Because of this mistaken supposition, the forces of so-called "Pro-Choice" groups have successfully duped much of the American public into believing that they are the champions of freedom, liberty, and all that is American. Much of the blame for this lies within the elements of the Pro-Life movement that have refused, partly because of their virtue, to confront the issue of personal freedom. When "Pro-Choice" forces ask "What about the rights of the mother?" Right to Life forces have characteristically simply retorted, "But what about the rights of the child?" thereby supposing that the rights of the two individuals are pitted against each other an allowing the terms of the argument to be defined by the other side—and we all know where the discussion goes from there: It isn’t too long before e are forced to compare the latest medical findings regarding viability and other such ridiculous matters.
What we are not seeing is that this is exactly the way that "Pro-Choice" or, as I will from here on out refer to them, "Pro-Abortion" forces wan the debate to proceed. By forcing us into this corner they can thereby take the moral high ground. Don’t we look ridiculous trying to defend the rights of a being that have called human but have consented to discuss I terms of trimesters and vital signs? Don’t they look like the good guys while defending the "rights" of a being whose human character none but the most hopeless nihilist would question? So it is time, then that we stopped evading a question that we should be most prepared to answer, a question that if answered thoughtfully, could end this quasi debate once and for all. What about the rights of the mother?
O.K., so what about them? Upon creative reading of our Constitution, it has been decided by the Supreme Court of the United States that women are constitutionally guaranteed the right to an abortion. Thus, the laws of 46 states were overturned and today our trash bins are the final resting places for some 1.6 million babies each year., Yet behind those 1.6 million crudely disposed of babies are approximately 1.6 million women whose souls have been affected (or, one could argue, infected) by the irresponsibil8ity and blatant disregard to liberty that the legalization of abortion is a manifestation of. The truth is that the legalization of abortion places an artificial burden on women who are faced with unplanned pregnancy. In America, we usually expect our laws to be respectful of the fundamental principles of our regime—the equality of all men and the rights that are born out of that equality. When laws that allow for the murdering of innocent infants as a means of birth control exist in a regime with our principles, on is bound to be confused. For a woman who finds herself fin the uncomfortable position of an unplanned pregnancy, these laws can be as enticing as the sirens were to Odysseus, and perhaps more harmful. What effect has the legalization of abortion had on the true rights of Americans, and specifically, the rights of women? Let’s look at the cases of three actual women who have lived in the age of legalized abortion, and see how that legalization has affected their lives.
Fonda Brennan was single, 23 years old, and beginning her first teaching job when she found out that she was pregnant. Although she was unprepared for the shock that the news of her pregnancy brought her, she was even less prepared for the reactions of her friends and colleagues. "It seemed like every person I told, told e to have an abortion," said Brennan. Fonda was, to say the least, confused by this reaction. Luckily for her and her son Ian, she got more sound advice from her doctor. Her doctor told her that he had seen many women who regretted keeping her baby.
Fonda decided to keep her baby, but she has not forgotten the scorn that she faced as a result. It seems that since abortion has become legal it has gone from being legal but not preferable, to being legal and accepted in some cases, to what it has become for many today, preferable and legal as a matter of "right." The damage this has done to the souls of individual women faced with the dilemma of an unplanned pregnancy can only be speculated, but the damage it has caused to the institution of motherhood and the children who have somehow escaped the holocaust of abortion is clear. Motherhood used to be the most respected and revered institution for women. Today, a woman who decides to have children and take care of them herself is often put on the defensive. Though few today would argue that women are not capable of raising children and having an outside career a the same time, all would agree that doing the latter would be easier if she weren’t doing the former. It seems that the question of which is more worthy will inevitably be confronted. Whatever the individual woman might decide is of more worth, the Supreme Court and society have already made a determination from their end. Thus, ironically, legalized abortion, along with most of the other laws born out of the radical feminist movement, have crippled most those that they were thought to be freeing. While a woman’s nature tells her that motherhood is good in and of itself—something that is in fact "choiceworthy" —these laws, and most especially abortion, tell her that it is not.
Vicki Dusauzay, 20, was initially thrilled at the news of her pregnancy. Unfortunately, her family did not share in her joy. Vicki’s boyfriend was black and her family did not think that it would be "fair" to the child to allow it to live in an interracial marriage. (Of course, the logic of these people is amazing. Much better to kill the poor child than to have it, or should I say them, suffer the effects of such a taboo.) Vicki gradually gave in to the desire of her family and their arguments for waiting until she was more economically stable to have children. Vicki’s words probably best express the pain this "decision" has caused her. "I remember lying on the table looking at all of the equipment and I just kept crying. The counselors at the clinic told me I didn’t have to do it and I could come back when I felt better about it. But I couldn’t go out to the waiting room and tell my sister that I couldn’t do it and wanted to go home." At another point, Vicki admitted that the legality of abortion was what finally convinced her to go through with it. "If I had to do it back-alley style, I don’t think I could have gone through with it."
Shandi Kidder was 21 years old and the current "Miss Louisiana Petite" when she discovered that she was pregnant. Although she had always considered herself Pro-Life, her trauma and the legality of abortion caused her to think desperate thoughts. She called an abortion clinic but luckily she was repulsed by their cold attitude toward her situation and the situation of her baby. She then discovered a place called "Living Alternatives." They counseled her on the alternatives to abortion and let her hear her child’s heartbeat. Today, Shani does not regret her decision to have her baby at all. What she does regret, or rather resents, it the fact that she nearly gave in to a temptation that is most evil in it’s nature and yet is presented to American women as a legitimate, nay, the correct attitude toward unplanned pregnancy.
As a woman, these stories infuriate me, as they should all women who have any respect for themselves and their freedom. As you read the three stories again, ask yourself "Which of these women seemed to be the most helpless, the most passive, the most submissive?" I can tell you that it was not the first or the last. Which of them really made a choice? I can tell you that it was not the one in the middle. For time immemorial women have been having, raising, and supporting children under some of the most mean circumstances. Many have done so without the benefit of a husband’s help. If women really want to know what causes the perceptions that men have of their so-called weakness, the whining and whimpering of the Molly Yards of the world would go a long way toward explaining them.
Yet, the biggest myth that is perpetuated by Pro-Abortion forces and is therefore the one we should be most eager to destroy, is the myth that states that in some cases abortion is good for the baby as well as the mother—the "positive good" argument. The parallels that this runs to the debates of another time in the history of our Republic have been drawn out elsewhere, but the point I wish to make of this myth is simply this: Pro-Abortion forces are not really concerned about the "rights" of anyone. What Pro-Abortion groups really care about is power; power that they have obtained by manipulating the very women whose rights they claim to champion. By convincing women that they are the champion of their "cause" (whatever that may be), they have been able to perpetuate their "world-view" or, as I see it, a systematic program to rid the world of those types of people that they find to be either burdensome or distasteful. Their antipathy to motherhood clearly demonstrates this. If they were truly concerned with a "woman’s right to choose," then why don’t they espouse an equal amount of respect for those women who chose not to have abortions. Pro-Abortion forces always comment that women who do decide to have their children are naturally more inclined to say that it was the right thing to do, even if it was in fact a "mistake." It is through this, and their other rhetoric and deeds, that Pro-Aborts expose their true agenda. Pro-Aborts favor abortion because they see it as their ticket to power. They successfully eliminate those that they view as a threat to their power while claiming to be the champion of another group’s rights, namely women. And so far we women have been successfully duped.
When it was discovered that women who undergo abortions were suffering from the logical depression and guilt that follow one who has just murdered their own flesh and blood, Pro-Abortion forces were quick to react. Their answer (surprise, surprise), was counseling. This counseling is not, however, the kind of counseling that one would expect to receive when one is making a life and death decision. In fact, this counseling rivals the brainwashing techniques that go on in today’s sensitivity and consciousness raising sessions on American campuses. Women are encouraged to deny any responsibility for their pregnancy. They are not responsible, their boyfriend is not responsible, society is not responsible (though it could have, they are told, been more helpful in preventing her pregnancy if it would have funded her birth control), and therefore we are witness to a no-fault pregnancy. It was just "bad luck" or the "winds of fate" that got her pregnant. Must’ve been some winds!
It is time that Pro-Life forces recognize that the Pro-Abortion movement really is, and prepare to battle it with all of the intensity that we would fight any enemy that was attacking both our liberty and our children. "Pro-Choice" forces are not about choice, they are about forcing women who find themselves in desperate situations to consider options that they would find abominable under normal circumstances. What a choice they have secured for these women. Should we really be surprised if the only grateful ones in this issue are the psychotherapists that the women led into this "choice" must eventually face?
*The names of the women mentioned in this article and the facts concerning them were obtained from The Times Picayune of New Orleans in July of 1990. Their identities have not been altered.
Julie Kessler is a junior from Zanesville, Ohio, majoring in Political Science and minoring in History.